CC McGraw

Sophomore CC McGraw of Prior Lake won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for a second time this fall for the No. 11-ranked Minnesota Gophers.

CC McGraw has performed at high level ever since she stepped on to the Division I volleyball court.

The sophomore defensive specialist for the University of Minnesota earned her second Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors Oct. 21 for her performance in the Gophers' wins over Northwestern and Illinois Oct. 18 and 19.

McGraw, a 2016 Prior Lake High School graduate, has been a starter since she set foot on the Gophers' campus. Minnesota was ranked No. 11 in the latest Division I poll Oct. 20.

McGraw averaged 6.86 digs per set in the wins over Northwestern and No. 17 Illinois. She also added six assists and an ace serve and didn't commit one reception error.

Against Northwestern, McGraw had 16 digs and tallied three assists and one ace. She added a career-best 32 digs and three assists in beating Illinois.

McGraw became the first Gopher to earn 30 digs in a match since 2010, breaking a nine-year record. Through 45 sets this season, McGraw had a team-best 209 digs and ranked third in the Big Ten in digs per set (4.64).

In her first season with the Gophers, McGraw was a Big Ten All-Freshman selection, playing in the all of the team's 107 sets (31 total matches). She had a team-best 428 digs along with 23 ace serves and 98 set assists.

Her accolades have piled up over the years.

McGraw was the Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice. Following her first season at Minnesota, McGraw earned a spot on USA Volleyball's Collegiate National Team.

The squad toured Japan last May and competed in a series of training sessions and matches against Nippon Sport Science University, one of the best collegiate volleyball teams in Japan, and Japan's Women’s 20U and World University Games teams.

"Overall, it was an incredibly memorable experience," McGraw told Gophersports.com. "I was able to learn a lot about the Japanese culture by exploring a variety of cities such as Tokyo, Okayama, Kawasaki and Kyoto. The games were very competitive, and it was an awesome opportunity to feel uncomfortable by trying new things while playing the game.

"The Japanese teams have a very different style of play which is very focused on defense. They practically dig everything," she added. "It was fun getting to meet so many new athletes while enjoying a beautiful country."

McGraw has played on the top Minnesota Select 18s team since her sophomore year in high school. She helped her 18U select team win the 2016 USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships.

At Prior Lake, McGraw was a five-year letterwinner and became the program's first-ever Ms. Baden Volleyball award winner, which goes to the top senior in the state. She led the Lakers to a third-place finish in the Class 3A state tournament in her final season with the Lakers.

Prior Lake was fifth at state in McGraw's junior year and the state runner-up when she was a sophomore. The Lakers compiled a 78-21 record over in McGraw's final three years.

McGraw finished her Prior Lake career as the program's all-time leader in ace serves with 152. She ranked second all time with 1,886 digs.

McGraw was a three-time all-state selection and was named an Under Armour First Team All-American after her senior year. She was also a two-time Junior Volleyball Association All-National Team selection.

"CC’s preparation and focus allowed her to maximize her skills and play on the court to the point that she made routine plays look easy and the amazing plays look routine," Lakers coach Mike Dean said. "It was a pleasure to have a front row seat to watch her play."

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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