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Girls volleyball: Lauren Carlini named No. 1 senior recruit in the nation

West Aurorsenior Lauren Carlini has been selected No. 1 senior recruit natiby panel 100 college DivisiI coaches for’s annual

West Aurora senior Lauren Carlini has been selected the No. 1 senior recruit in the nation by a panel of 100 college Division I coaches for’s annual Senior Aces rankings. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 12, 2012 6:17AM

Accolades are nothing new to Lauren Carlini, but this one took her breath away.

“I was so surprised, I started shaking. I was so stunned,” the West Aurora senior said Monday.

She was describing what it was like to learn she had been selected the No. 1 senior recruit in the nation by a panel of 100 college Division I coaches for’s annual Senior Aces rankings.

Starting at 100 and working its way down, the site has been announcing 10 players at a time almost daily since late August. On Monday, the top 10 were released.

“I didn’t know what was going on. I expected to be 6 or 7 maybe,” said Carlini, who verbally committed to attend the University of Wisconsin as a freshman and has competed for her country internationally.

“When I saw I was No. 1, I called my dad (Tony) and said, ‘Oh my God, check online.’ It was crazy. It’s such an honor. I definitely did not expect to be No. 1.”

West Aurora coach Kari Nicholson uses the 6-foot-2 Carlini as a setter and right side hitter to take full advantage of her all-around talents.

“That’s fantastic,” said Nicholson. “It’s a fantastic honor and I think that she completely deserves it. She’s a great kid. She’s a phenomenal volleyball player. It’s nice that she got the recognition. We’re proud of her. She’s a phenomenal volleyball player, and everybody can see that. She’s pretty to watch.”

In making the announcement, Editor John Tawa wrote, “Watch Carlini play and be amazed. … Her athleticism and body control shine as she flies for a ball defensively, or chases a pass down across the court. When Carlini jump sets, time seems to stand still as she delivers sweet accurate sets time and time again.”

Tawa said he projected Carlini as this year’s No. 1 when he began working on the list, but he relies on the college coaches.

“I start the process in May,” he said, noting he solicits nominations from every high school and club coach in the country. “I then send out a proposed Top 100 to the panel. We’ve been doing it every year since 2003.”

The two-time Beacon-News Player of the Year has been playing the sport competitively with Aurora’s Sports Performance Volleyball Club since she was 6.

Carlini set for the USA Youth National team in Turkey in 2011 after being named MVP of the USA High Performance Tournament in Tucson that summer.

“She does not have a single weakness on the court and her overall skill level is the highest I have seen in a junior player since (eventual four-time U.S. Olympian) Logan Tom in 1998,” said Sports Performance Director Rick Butler. “Not only is she an outstanding setter, but she is also a great point scorer as both an attacker and a blocker and her defensive and serving skills are excellent.”

Carlini also has an outstanding work ethic, wrote Tawa, “she is an absolute animal in the weight room, which makes here stand out from many other high school age players who really have not learned yet how crucial that part of the training is to their long term health and development.”

Paul Johnson contributed to this report.

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