MERIDEN — Gaby Vazquez was sitting in math class on Tuesday morning when one of her classmates turned to her.
“You are the Gatorade State Player of the Year.”
The news, sparked by a Record-Journal tweet, spread like wildfire around Platt. Gabriela Vazquez: Connecticut’s top volleyball player for 2015.
After class, the senior rushed to her guidance counselor, who confirmed she was the choice.
Vazquez, a modest student-athlete off the court, averaging 3.69 in the classroom and volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club. On the court, she is a lethal 5-foot-7 outside hitter.
Vazquez is a star player, but also a stellar teammate. She knew she was a Gatorade Player of the Year nominee, but kept it to herself. She wanted to keep the focus on the entire team as the 23-3 Panthers made their magical postseason run in November, first to the Central Connecticut Conference title and then to the CIAC Class L crown.
“I was really surprised,” Vazquez said Tuesday. “I didn’t think I was going to win it, but I’m really happy and so proud. I’m really proud of what we have accomplished.”
Pride was fairly universal around the Silver City after Platt brought home the Class L championship, the first state crown the school has won in 25 years in any sport (the 1990 Class M title in volleyball was the last one).
As for the Gatorade recognition, Vazquez is first athlete in Platt history to earn the honor.
“I honestly didn’t know that,” Vazquez said. “Oh, my God, I can’t believe it. It’s amazing.”
Overall, Vazquez is the fourth Meriden athlete to be a Gatorade Player of the Year.
Maloney running back Paul Young was the first in 1989, the year Maloney football reached the Class M final. Maloney volleyball player Leah Hettrick followed in 2002, the year the Spartans won the Class L crown.
Meriden resident Kiah Gillespie, who attended Capital Prep in Hartford, was a two-time Gatorade basketball honoree before moving on to the University of Maryland.
With Gillespie earning her second award earlier this year, Meriden is now home to two Gatorade state players in 2015.
Vazquez has lived here since moving from Puerto Rico before her junior year. She went out in a big way, putting up a season-best 33 kills in leading Platt over RHAM in the CCC Tournament finals.
In the state tournament, Vazquez kept it rolling with 28 kills against Fitch in the quarterfinals and 31 against Farmington in the semifinals. In a rematch with RHAM in the Class L final, Vazquez racked up 24 kills and 15 digs and was named MVP of the state championship match.
Vazquez signed off with team highs in kills (424) and aces (121). She also had 15 blocks and 240 digs.
“This is a wonderful accomplishment,” Platt athletic director Rich Katz said of Vazquez’s Gatorade selection. “Gaby was an impact player for our volleyball program and this is a great thing for her and our school.”
Vazquez said she couldn’t have accomplished anything without her teammates, family and coaches.
“I feel that, honestly, everything that I’ve achieved I couldn’t have done it without their support,” Vazquez said. “They were there for me all of the time. It was nice to feel that sense of family. My coach showed me how to believe in myself. It’s just been a great year.”
As far as next year, Vazquez is still weighing her college options.
For those who can’t get enough of Platt volleyball, Vazquez and head coach Lou Gianacopolos will be appear on CPTV Sports’ “In Focus” tonight at 7 p.m.
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