From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Senior outside hitter, St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.)
Greatness Present: When your parents are Hall of Fame enshrines in their respective sports, that can be a daunting standard to live up to. So far, Carlyle Nusbaum doesn’t seem to be fazed.
That much became clear earlier this fall when the St. Thomas Aquinas star helped snap perennial powerhouse Lenexa (Kan.) St. James Academy’s string of six straight Class 5A state titles. Nusbaum led her Saints to victory in the state final, avenging a crushing three-set loss in last year’s championship match. The win came thanks in large part to the sublime Nusbaum, who slammed eight kills in the title-clincher.
She collected a team-high 390 kills for the season, recording a .340 hitting percentage and a .474 kill percentage. For her efforts, Nusbaum helped earn a national ranking for Aquinas (No. 24 in the country by MaxPreps). She also solidified her status as a bona fide Gatorade Player of the Year candidate and cemented her legacy in a family that already had some serious athletic credentials.
After all, Carlyle’s mom Kris Rehm-Nusbaum is a 2004 inductee into the Rockhurst University Athletics Hall of Fame. She starred on both the basketball and volleyball teams for the Hawks from 1988-91. Her dad Mark Nusbaum recently retired as head basketball coach at Kansas City’s Rockhurst High after a 32-year career in which he racked up more than 500 victories. He was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2013. Incidentally, during his Hawklets tenure, Mark Nusbaum coached a pair of Gatorade Missouri Boys Basketball Players of the Year: 2006 and 2007 honoree Conner Teahan and 2013 winner Kyle Wolf.
Could Carlyle Nusbaum be next on the list of POY-worthy efforts witnessed by her dad? Only time will tell, of course. But the awards are already rolling in, and Nusbaum can at least take comfort in knowing she’ll end her prep volleyball career as a champion.
Greatness Past: Nusbaum has led St. Thomas Aquinas to the Class 5A state final each of the last two seasons. She concluded her prep career with more kills (1,276) than any player in school history.
Greatness Future: Nusbaum has verbally committed to Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Volleyball Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for daily updates on the top contenders making their case.