In her second year as a finalist, Park Hill South volleyball player Annika Welty was named the 2017 recipient of the Evelyn Gates Award on Thursday.
Other finalists for the award, which recognizes the best high school volleyball player in the area, were St. James Academy’s Allison Coens, Kearney’s Callie Schwarzenbach and Lee’s Summit’s Claire Wagner.
Welty, a senior middle hitter committed to Creighton, led a young team to Missouri Class 4 state tournament, where it lost to St. Teresa’s Academy in the round of 16.
She recorded 274 kills in 526 attempts spanning 60 sets. She served 33 aces. She also made 54 digs and 75 blocks, 55 of them solo.
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“This year’s team surrounding Annika (was) extremely young and inexperienced,” Park Hill South coach Karen Rule wrote in her nomination of Welty. “In many cases that can prove frustrating for such a talented player, but Annika embraced her team and encouraged them instead of discouraging them. ... Her team has had much more success than was ever expected.”
The Evelyn Gates Award was established after Gates, a longtime official of girls and women’s volleyball, basketball and softball, died in 2003. The recipient is selected by the area high school coaches. Evelyn passed away in 2003,, and this award was set as a memorial to her and to girls and women in sport.
The annual traveling trophy is presented to the student-athlete to display at her school along with a $500 stipend for its athletic department. Park Hill South previously housed the trophy when Erin Birmingham won the award in 2005.