Cameron Graves was a late bloomer when it came to volleyball. But things have a way of falling into place for the Valencia alumnus when it comes to the sport.
After starting prep volleyball later than most, Graves also had a little bit of a delay when it came to playing volleyball at the college level.
He wanted to take a year off of school before beginning college, but his parents encouraged him to start right away. By the time Graves came around to the idea, registration had already passed for his school of choice, Fontbonne University.
He spent a semester at Grand Canyon University and another at College of the Canyons, then was ready to register for classes at Fontbonne, located in St. Louis.
“I wanted to get away, like, live my own life to see where it will take me,” Graves said.
At Valencia, Graves had an impressive volleyball career in a short amount of time. He joined the varsity team as a junior and liked the sport, but wasn’t sure how much talent he had for it.
“When I heard I made it, and just going from there, I had to really work hard because everyone else had played club and had way more years on me,” Graves said. “So in order to catch up I had to put time in the gym more than just staying at home.”
In two years’ time, Graves had earned himself a starting position with the Vikings. At the conclusion of his senior season, he led Valencia in kills with 319. He averaged 3.1 kills per set and had a 41.8 kill percentage.
He was also skilled at the service line, leading the Vikings in aces with 23 in his senior campaign.
Graves also started playing for Legacy Club volleyball, which helped him make a valuable connection with a teammate that helped him join the team at Fontbonne, an NCAA Division 3 school.
His Legacy teammate knew Fontbonne head coach Ryan LeGrand and helped him get in touch with the college program. Graves secured a spot on the roster and got straight to work.
In 11 matches this season, Graves ranks sixth on the team in kills with 44, averaging 1.76 kills per set. He also added 24 digs.
He also says he’s gotten better in the mental aspect of the game, staying calm when it comes to serving and controlling the ball.
“I’ve definitely have gotten better since when I played in high school,” Graves said. “I feel like I’ve done better for the time I’ve put in the gym and also my teammates motivating me and pushing me to go even further to really push my limits.”
As a team, the Griffins finished 25-2 overall and 7-2 in the Midwest Collegiate Volleyball League (MCVL) in the regular season. They won the MVCL tournament for the first time ever by beating Carthage in five sets and as a result, earned a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Fontbonne, which is ranked No. 15 in Division 3 plays No. 9-ranked MSOE on April 19 at 6:30 p.m. in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Definitely try and win the NCAA Tournament,” Graves said. “That’s definitely the only goal that’s on my mind at the moment. Give it all I’ve got before the season ends, win or lose.”
Regardless of how far the Griffins go in the tournament, playing volleyball at Fontbonne has already paid dividends for Graves.
“It’s really exciting, especially since I came in late in the semester,” Graves said. “It’s nice to like, have teammates that I can count on and really call family. It’s hard to put it into words.”