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Next: Falyn Fonoimoana

1/29/2009
Falyn Fonoimoana might be the next great American volleyball player. Courtesy Leonard Xu

In 2007, Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) defeated Archbishop Mitty (San
Jose, Calif.) in the girls' volleyball state championship for the third consecutive
year. The Mustangs prevailed because they had the best player on the court,
even though she was one of the youngest.

Falyn Fonoimoana, now a 6-foot-4,
USC-bound outside hitter, was only a sophomore at the time, but she notched
15 kills to take home tourney MVP honors as Mira Costa finished the year No. 1
in the ESPN RISE FAB 50. The All-American is now the consensus No. 1 junior in
the country and arguably the top player regardless of class. This past fall, a season
during which the Mustangs went 28-6 and advanced to the SoCal Regional
Division I semifinals, she tallied an astounding 500 kills to go with 258 digs, 36
aces and 34 blocks.

Of course, if Archbishop Mitty had its most famous volleyball
alum on the court back in 2007, the Monarchs might have had more luck against
Fonoimoana and Co. These days, Kerri Walsh is best known as one half of the
most dominant beach volleyball duo in history, teaming with Misty May-Treanor
to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. But back in high school, Walsh was a
dominant indoor player, just like Fonoimoana. Walsh went from Mitty
to Stanford, where she earned All-American honors four times and won
two national titles before shifting to the beach.

Fonoimoana could follow
a similar path -- after all, she prefers the sand to the hardwood
and has all the tools to become a dominant beach player. Looks like the
future of American volleyball is in good hands.

REWIND
Hits and miss from our past NEXT picks

HIT
TOBIN HEATH TO KRISTINE LILLY
Heath has lived up to huge expectations. The junior midfielder
has won two national titles at North Carolina
(Lilly's alma mater) and played for the U.S. National Team
that took home gold at the 2008 Olympics.

MISS
ELENA DELLE DONNE TO CANDACE PARKER
In high school, Delle Donne seemed destined to follow in
Parker's footsteps. But Delle Donne left UConn without
ever playing a game and instead suited up for the
Delaware volleyball team as a freshman this year.

Next In Line
The next Michelle Kwan:

MIRAI NAGASU
Only a sophomore, Nagasu won a U.S. National Title last year at age 14, a year younger that Kwan was when she won the first of her nine U.S. Figure Skating Crowns.

The next Tony Hawk:

LACEY BAKER
Much like Hawk revolutionized skateboarding, Baker is spurring the sports' growth on the women's side. The California native copped bronze at the 2006 X Games.

The next Maya Moore:

SAMARIE WALKER
Moore is already one of the nation's top women's basketball players at UConn. Two years from now, she'll be joined by Walker, the No. 1 junior in the ESPNU HoopGurlz Super 60.