It’s not common for a fifth-grader to excel at setter drills, but Hannah Graham is not a common volleyball player.
The Southeast Whitfield senior and four-year starter was an individual standout on a talented roster in 2012, helping the Lady Raiders to their best season in program history this fall. Southeast claimed a program-record 37 wins, won an area title for the second year in a row and made its deepest run ever in the state tournament, reaching the Class 4A semifinals before falling to eventual champion Sandy Creek.
For her achievements, Graham has been named The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Volleyball Player of the Year. This is Graham’s third all-area selection; she’s the third straight Lady Raider to capture the Player of the Year honor, following Shelby McFarland (2010) and Megan Collins (2011).
Joining Graham on The Daily Citizen’s 2012 All-Area Volley-ball Team, as selected by the newspaper’s sports staff with input from area coaches, are fellow Lady Raiders McKayla Burse, defensive specialist, and Collins, an outside hitter; Dalton outside hitter Susan Meinders; Christian Heritage setter Jessica Seehorn; and North Murray libero Hanna Abdelrazzaq.
Jake Dickey, the Lady Raiders’ head coach since the 2006 season, was an assistant in 2005, the year Graham attended a Southeast volleyball camp as a fifth-grader. There was a drill called “setter’s eye” where players had to try and place the ball perfectly into a basket or circular object.
It’s a tough drill for most girls that age.
“Usually no one gets it into the basket,” Dickey said. “She got several in there as a fifth-grader. You could tell from the way she was holding her hands that she would be good.”
Graham attended the camp at the request of her physical education teacher, Carrie Burch, who now teaches and coaches at Southeast. Graham had never played volleyball before that camp and did not play on an organized team until she and Collins joined Southeast volleyball’s junior varsity program as eighth-graders in 2008. The duo were co-MVPs of that team.
“We did it together because neither one of us wanted to do it alone,” Graham said. “We’ve been friends since the sixth grade when I was at Valley Point (Middle).