Stephanie Samedy remembers when she wasn’t a very good volleyball player, but that’s certainly no longer the case.

The East Ridge senior’s drive and determination to be the best was rewarded recently when Samedy was named Miss Volleyball for 2016 by the Florida Dairy Farmers following a final round of voting by a statewide panel of coaches and media.

Samedy, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter, had previously been named the Class 8A Player of the Year. She received 158 points, including nine first-place votes in the final voting for Miss Volleyball.

She easily outdistanced Boca Raton’s Christine Jarman — the Class 9A Player of the Year — who finished with 136 points and six first-place votes. Orlando First Academy’s Brynna Deluzio rounded out the top three with 84 points and one first-place vote.

Samedy is the first volleyball player from Lake or Sumter counties to win the award since it was first handed out in 1992.

“I’m honored to get this award,” Samedy said. “It was a blessing, especially when I think back to just a few years ago when I wasn’t a very good player. It’s an amazing feeling to realize how far I’ve come, but I'm not done. I’ve still got a lot of work and a lot of learning ahead of me.”

Samedy said she learned of the award on Friday when she was in her Spanish class at East Ridge.

“(East Ridge volleyball coach Mayra Cuebas) walked into the classroom and announced it to everyone,” Samedy said. “I had no idea what she was doing when she came into the room. To say I was shocked would be an understatement.”

Samedy led East Ridge to a 21-4 record as a senior and a spot in the Class 8A regional semifinals. It marked the deepest postseason run for the Knights since 2003 when they advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals.

Her final stat line was impressive: 442 kills, 189 digs, 38 service aces and 25 blocks.

Samedy has signed a national letter of intent to continue her career with the University of Minnesota, which advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 2015. Minnesota is the nation’s top-ranked team in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

“Stephanie’s an amazing player,” said Cuebas. “She has always been such a hard worker and has put East Ridge — and Lake County, for that matter — back on the volleyball map. She’s raised the standards and we’re getting better players because of her.

“She’s definitely going to be very difficult to replace.”

Samedy leaves today for Columbus, Ohio, where she will begin practicing for the Under Armour All-American Game on Friday. She is also a member of the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team.

In addition, she is still in the running for the Gatorade Player of the Year for Florida. If she wins that honor, Samedy would be up for National Player of the Year honors.

All of the sudden attention is somewhat unsettling for Samedy, who rarely seeks the limelight. She learned her humble nature from her parents, who taught her not to take anything for granted and to never take the easy way out.

That’s also the legacy she hopes to have left for her teammates.

“My parents and my coaches taught me the values of hard work,” Samedy said. “Give everything you have at every practice and in every game. I never take anything for granted and I will never take the easy way out. It’s harder that way, but it’s much more rewarding when you reach your goals."

This marks the 25th year that Florida Dairy Farmers have been honoring the state’s top student athletes and coaches in all 30 Florida High School Athletic Association sanctioned sports.