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SV’s DeGraaf, McDonough named to Fab 50

Seneca Valley’s Nathan DeGraaf (front), and Coleman McDonough react to the Raiders winning a crucial point during a victory over North Allegheny May 10. Both players were recognized by VolleyballMag.com in the website’s Fab 50, which ranks the nation’s top 50 senior boys volleyball players. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle
National Recognition

Seneca Valley volleyball coach Brett Poirier knows how good Nathan DeGraaf and Coleman McDonough are on the court.

A national website has taken notice as well.

On Monday, both players were recognized by VolleyballMag.com with spots on its annual Boys Fab 50 release.

According to the website, the Boys Fab 50 ranks the top 50 seniors in the nation based on votes compiled by a panel of NCAA Division I and II coaches.

The state of California normally dominates the roster and tallied 22 players on this year's list. For one school in Western Pa. to get two players recognized, it speaks to not only their talent and level of commitment, but the quality of program for which they played.

DeGraaf, a right-side hitter, and McDonough, an outside hitter, will continue their volleyball careers at Lewis University (a Division I school near Chicago) and UCLA, respectively.

"The team was just remarkable the last two years," said Poirier. "Six of our seven losses came against North Allegheny, who just won their fourth straight state championship. It was a lot of fun and Nate and Coleman were two of our leaders.

"They're guys you hate to see graduate, but they're both moving on to bigger and better things. I wish them both the best."

SV's duo were teammates for Vanguard, a club team based near Columbus, Ohio, this past offseason.

"Nate and I knew each other before that, but being on the same club team took it to another level," said McDonough. "It elevated our game and the fact that we got to play for the same high school makes it really special."

DeGraaf led the Raiders in kills (339) and blocks (45) this spring, which saw the Raiders go 17-3 and reach the WPIAL Class 3A championship game.

"He's 6-foot-7 and is such a big presence at the net, can get you a big block when you need it," said Poirier. "I call him "The Unicorn" because everybody wants one, but not everyone can have one.

"His numbers were incredible, but he could've had even more kills ... missed a couple of games with a minor injury and there were a few games where he didn't come off the back row."

DeGraaf was new to Vanguard, but his time there made a big difference in his game.

"I put in a lot of work, training and trying to get ready for college," he said. "It helped me level-up my game and I felt good coming into the high school season."

Lewis University is the college of choice for six of the Fab 50 players, including DeGraaf, who admitted: "It's a little intimidating, but I want to take my game to the next level and am super-excited to learn from the best."

Poirier let McDonough know prior to the season that he would be moving from libero to outside hitter.

"As good of a libero as he is, he's such a strong hitter and we needed him on the outside," the coach said. "His knowledge of the game is tremendous."

McDonough, who was named the WPIAL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2021, says he had been a libero "my whole life", but relished the opportunity to play at the net.

"It's every libero's dream to play outside hitter and I loved it," he related. "I've been around the sport for so long, I can play anywhere on the court."

And he proved it with 308 kills while still contributing 320 digs.

At UCLA, he will move back to libero and knows that he will have to elevate his game.

"I wanted to get out of my comfort zone," he said of choosing the PAC-12 school. "The pace of play will be something I have to get used to, but I feel I can still be successful."

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