SW’s McGraw bound for OCU


Jeep blocker to continue volleyball career

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



South Webster senior Rylee McGraw (9) attempts a block on a Newark Catholic kill during the Lady Jeeps’ Division IV regional final win over the Green Wave.

South Webster senior Rylee McGraw (9) attempts a block on a Newark Catholic kill during the Lady Jeeps’ Division IV regional final win over the Green Wave.


Ed Litteral | Daily Times

South Webster High School senior Rylee McGraw, seated center, announces her intention to play collegiate volleyball at Ohio Christian University. Seated with McGraw are, from left, Ohio Christian University volleyball head coach Ally Coyle, mother Amy McGraw, father Jared McGraw and South Webster High School volleyball head coach Darcee Claxon. Standing are brother Jase McGraw (left) and brother Jacob McGraw (right).


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

SOUTH WEBSTER — With last season’s South Webster High School volleyball team, Rylee McGraw got a good role of being a role player.

After all, she was on the same state semifinalist squad — and in the same senior foursome — as all-Ohio first-team middle hitter Faith Maloney, excellent outside hitter Bri Claxon, and all-Ohio Honorable Mention libero Graci Claxon.

But McGraw — many times over for the Jeeps — just did what she was asked, made kills and blocks when needed, and more than played her hitter role quite well.

Now, McGraw gets rewarded with continuing her volleyball and academic career —as the five-foot and 10-inch tall Jeep, officially last Thursday, announced she will play collegiately for Ohio Christian University in Circleville.

The Trailblazers, a member of the NAIA, are coached by second-year mentor Ally Coyle —who flanked McGraw for her recent signing ceremony at South Webster High School.

Also joining McGraw were her parents, Jared and Amy McGraw; brothers Jacob and Jase McGraw; South Webster High School volleyball coach Darcee Claxon; and several family members, Jeep teammates and many friends.

McGraw is a key member of the Jeeps’ softball team, and was a cheerleader for South Webster boys basketball.

With McGraw making it official, all four of the 2021 Jeep seniors will continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level —although Bri Claxon will play basketball for Division II Gannon University in Erie, Pa.

Graci Claxon and Maloney are together bound for Mount Vernon Nazarene University, another NAIA member and faith-based school, although OCU and MVNU are not scheduled to play each other next season.

For McGraw, she said she chose OCU for its “family atmosphere of the team” —and appreciated Coyle’s determined recruitment of her.

Kentucky Christian University in Grayson (Ky.) was also on her radar, but “I felt a better fit at OCU”.

“She (Coyle) texted me multiple times, always saying if I needed anything she was always there. Then the girls there, I really felt a connection. It honestly felt like the bond we have here at South Webster, I can form one there at OCU with those girls,” said McGraw. “It’s a Christian school, so I want to continue to build my faith there as well. And academically, they (OCU) made it affordable for me. I’ve been up there a few times, and I’ve really liked it. The atmosphere and just how the practices are ran are very similar. The coaching styles are very similar, which is what I really looked for, just because that’s what I’ve been used to for so many years.”

McGraw said she will likely play the right-side outside hitter, where she played some at South Webster — but seemed noticeable in the middle, either alongside Maloney on the floor, or whenever Maloney was out of the front-row rotation.

She said she was quite comfortable in the role which she played, which as a senior included 78 sets played out of a possible 87 —as she amassed 110 kills on 304 attempts, and assisted on 26 blocks with one solo.

She only made four block errors all year — with 62 attack miscues.

In 247 career sets played, she collected 232 kills on 766 attempts for a 30-percent attack percentage, as her hitting percentage soared to 70-percent —accounting for 75 blocks and 165 digs.

“It was definitely easier to be in that role just because of the team that we had,” said McGraw.

The program which McGraw was a member of was a three-time Division IV district champion, a one-time Region 15 runner-up, and finally a regional champion in volleyball for the first time in school history.

“Ever since our freshman year, Faith and Bri and Graci and I made it a goal to get to the state. To achieve that in our senior year, it was the best feeling for that to happen,” she said. “I’m just so proud of us as a whole. It’s just a really great accomplishment. I want to thank all of our coaches, especially Darcee for how hard she pushed us and motivated us all the way through.”

Coach Claxon credits the players for making that magical year happen, with McGraw playing her role especially well.

“These girls understood what it meant to be dedicated to something beyond themselves. That is ultimately why we saw so much success over the past four years. They understood what it was to be selfless and great teammates. Rylee was huge for us. She was 5-10, almost 5-11 and was a huge block on that right side. That gave A LOT of outside hitters trouble. She really worked on her shot selection, her ability to hit different types of shots, and that all culminated for her senior year,” said the coach. “She was a huge part of our success. She works hard, she never complains, she is not upset about not being in the spotlight. She wanted what was best for her team. The light maybe shines brighter on other people, but we are not as good as we were without her on our team. I’m really excited for her to have this opportunity to get to go on and play, and see that hard work pay off.”

McGraw said she is undecided upon a major —but said something in either education or in the medical field appears the most enticing.

The one thing she said she could not go without was volleyball —and is grateful to continue on from a Jeep blazing another trail.

“Softball and volleyball have always been my two favorite sports. After we went to state, I texted my mom after we lost that game (state semifinal), and told my mom that I just couldn’t go another year without playing volleyball,” said McGraw. “Yes the bond of the girls is amazing, but just the sport as a whole, I definitely want to continue playing.”

South Webster senior Rylee McGraw (9) attempts a block on a Newark Catholic kill during the Lady Jeeps’ Division IV regional final win over the Green Wave.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/04/web1_Rylee-McGraw-pic-1-1.jpgSouth Webster senior Rylee McGraw (9) attempts a block on a Newark Catholic kill during the Lady Jeeps’ Division IV regional final win over the Green Wave. Ed Litteral | Daily Times

South Webster High School senior Rylee McGraw, seated center, announces her intention to play collegiate volleyball at Ohio Christian University. Seated with McGraw are, from left, Ohio Christian University volleyball head coach Ally Coyle, mother Amy McGraw, father Jared McGraw and South Webster High School volleyball head coach Darcee Claxon. Standing are brother Jase McGraw (left) and brother Jacob McGraw (right).
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/04/web1_Rylee-McGraw-signing-1.jpgSouth Webster High School senior Rylee McGraw, seated center, announces her intention to play collegiate volleyball at Ohio Christian University. Seated with McGraw are, from left, Ohio Christian University volleyball head coach Ally Coyle, mother Amy McGraw, father Jared McGraw and South Webster High School volleyball head coach Darcee Claxon. Standing are brother Jase McGraw (left) and brother Jacob McGraw (right). Paul Boggs | Daily Times
Jeep blocker to continue volleyball career

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved