Pittsburgh -- Senior captain Amanda Graham (Melbourne, Fla. / Eau Gallie) of the Robert Morris University volleyball team was named ESPN Academic All-America Second Team in an announcement by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Tuesday.
Graham becomes the first female student-athlete in Robert Morris history to earn Academic All-America recognition and the fifth overall to receive the award.
Graham is the second Robert Morris student-athlete within a week to earn Academic All-American accolades, marking the first time in school history that two Colonial student-athletes have earned this esteemed distinction in one academic year. Sophomore defensive lineman Nolan Nearhoof (Gibsonia, Pa. / Mars Area) of the RMU football team was honored last Tuesday, Nov. 23, with a spot on the second team.
“To me, the Academic All-America award is one of the most prestigious awards in all of college athletics,” Robert Morris head coach Dale Starr said. “To excel in the classroom as well as the athletic arena is what college athletics is all about. I think that Amanda is very deserving of this honor. No student-athlete I have coached in 13 years has ever come close to putting up the numbers that Amanda has during her career at RMU. On the court she is a tremendous player, and off the court she is a tremendous person and leader. To accomplish what she has in the classroom and on the court is amazing, and we are truly very proud of her accomplishments.”
This acknowledgment of Graham’s academic and athletic prowess is just the most recent in a long line for the veteran middle blocker. Graham was named one of 30 semifinalists for the inaugural Lowe’s Senior CLASS Volleyball Award prior to the 2010 season and also received the Northeast Conference’s (NEC) Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for volleyball at the conclusion of the 2009 season.
The nuclear medicine technology major carries a 3.98 cumulative grade-point average. She has made the dean’s list every semester she has attended RMU and has been named to the NEC’s Academic Honor Roll in each of the past three years.
Graham, who previously became the first-ever student-athlete from any Robert Morris sport to earn academic all-district honors three times in her career, recently wrapped up another impressive statistical season for the Colonials. She had team-leading totals of 312 kills and 31 service aces and hit at a .329 clip while playing in all 35 matches. She topped RMU’s previous single-season total block record, finishing with 151, and broke her own single-season block assist record, totaling 125, which gives her three of the top four single-season block assist marks in program history. Graham was named to two all-tournament teams and was twice been recognized as NEC Co-Player of the Week. She averaged 1.17 blocks per game and collected 113 digs, both career highs, along with tallying her first-ever collegiate double-double.
Graham’s 2010 season capped off the consistent remarkable play throughout her career that has ensured she will leave her name in the RMU record book for years to come. She recently became just the second RMU volleyball player to be a four-time All-NEC honoree and garnered three first team selections. She surpassed numerous career milestones in 2010 while moving up in the Colonial record book in a litany of categories. Graham shattered the career block assist record along with topping both 1,000 kills and 400 blocks for her career during her senior season. She finished her RMU career ranked among the top 10 all-time in the following categories: first in block assists (358), second in attack percentage (.331), second in total blocks (438), fifth in aces (131) and fifth in kills (1,107).
Graham also becomes just the second volleyball player from any current NEC school to receive Academic All-America honors.
“I can't think of someone more deserving of the recognition she has received,” Starr said. She is the definition of a student-athlete and has set a great example for our younger players. She has represented the Robert Morris volleyball program and Robert Morris University with dignity and class and will be sorely missed in the coming years. On behalf of the entire RMU volleyball program, I would like to congratulate Amanda on this wonderful accomplishment.”
To be named Academic All-American, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale) at his or her current institution. Additionally, student-athletes are not eligible until they have completed one full calendar year at their current institution and have reached sophomore athletic eligibility.
Graham and her Colonial teammates went 13-3 during NEC play this season and qualified for the NEC Tournament for the 12th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the league. Robert Morris advanced to the championship match of the tournament and played for a NCAA berth before dropping the rubber match of its season series to Sacred Heart.