In its 27th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, announced Caitlin McInerney of Laramie High School as its 2011-12 Gatorade Wyoming Volleyball Player of the Year.

McInerney is the second Gatorade Wyoming Volleyball Player of the Year to be chosen from Laramie High School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the court, distinguishes McInerney as Wyoming’s best high school volleyball player.

Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award announced in December, McInerney joins an elite alumni association of past state volleyball award winners, including USA Volleyball players Kim Glass (2001-02, Horseshoe HS, Penn.), Kim Willoughby (1998-99, 1999-00, Assumption HS, La.) and Ogonna Nnamani (1999-00, University HS, Ill).

The 6-foot-1 senior setter and middle blocker recorded 238 assists, 150 kills, 133 digs, 92 blocks and 27 service aces this past season, leading the Plainsmen (27-6) to the Class 4A state championship game.

The Class 4A Player of the Year and a three-time First Team All-State selection as named by the Wyoming Coaches Association, McInerney compiled a .290 hitting percentage and .440 kill percentage.

She clicked for 21 assists, 15 blocks, 12 digs and nine kills during a 3-1 loss to rival Sheridan in the state title match.

Also a basketball and track standout as well as an accomplished clarinetist and choir singer, McInerney has maintained a 3.95 GPA in the classroom.

In addition to participating locally in peer and youth leadership programs, she has led fundraising efforts on behalf of Invisible Children and donated her time as a youth volleyball instructor.

“Caitlin McInerney made a big-time impact,” said Wendy Bider, head coach of rival Rock Springs High. “Laramie swept us in three meetings, and McInerney put a whoop on us every time. They could put her in any position, from setter to middle, and she can make an impact. She’s a well-rounded, all-around player.”

McInerney remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.

The selection process is administered by ESPNHS and the Gatorade high school sports leadership team, which work with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

McInerney joins recent Gatorade Wyoming Volleyball Players of the Year Meghan Sipe (2010-11, Cheyenne East High School), Paige Hellbaum (2009-10, Wheatland) and Emily Rochelle (2008-09, Kelly Walsh) among the state’s list of former award winners.