North Texas volleyball star Ayden Ames named Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year

The senior on her way to Texas was surprised with the honor on Tuesday inside the Prosper gymnasium.

PROSPER, Texas — With a room full of friends and family waiting in hushed anticipation, and Gatorade jugs full of confetti waiting to be dumped over her head from above, Prosper volleyball player Ayden Ames walked into the gym at Prosper High School Tuesday morning to a huge surprise.

“Are you kidding me!?” she said while dropping into a crouch, overcome by the moment. “Are you kidding me!?”

The All-American has a new honor to her name: Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year.

Ayden was embraced by her mom in a huge hug, holding back tears. The senior, who led Prosper to the state tournament this past fall, realized she had accomplished her goal.

“My heart dropped, and my hands started shaking,” she said. “Because I had no idea what to expect.”

Even after she had a chance to absorb the moment, she said it still didn’t feel real.

“You were basically just declared the best volleyball player in America,” I said to her afterward. “How does that hit you?”

“I can’t fully grasp it,” she said. “Seeing the names on the trophy. Like April Ross, and Kerri Walsh-Jennings. [The fact] that I’m even in the same conversation as those players, I can’t believe it. But this is the granddaddy of all awards, so I couldn’t be happier.”

So now, in the aftermath of all the confetti and celebration, Ayden turns her attention to her career at the University of Texas. She was rated the No. 1 recruit in the state of Texas in the Class of 2024. Now she joins a UT program that is a perennial powerhouse, and the defending national champion.

“You know, the goals obviously shift,” Ayden said. “Instead of winning a state championship, you now think of winning a national championship. When I get there, I know my goals are going to completely shift. And I’m going to be put in the hands of some amazing coaches and amazing staff, and I know they’ll take care of me well.”

And they’ll have a remarkable young talent to mold.

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