South seniors sign letters of intent with St. Francis

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¦ Graziano to play volleyball, Carroll to bowl
PATRICK NAGY
Sports Reporter


Williamsville South seniors Christian Graziano, left, and Haley Carroll signed letters of intent with St. Francis University Wednesday. Graziano will play volleyball and Carroll will bowl. Williamsville South seniors Christian Graziano, left, and Haley Carroll signed letters of intent with St. Francis University Wednesday. Graziano will play volleyball and Carroll will bowl. Williamsville South seniors Christian Graziano and Haley Carroll have nothing in common with one another, but both are taking their talents in their respective sports to St. Francis University, a Division I school in Loretto, Pennsylvania. Graziano will play on the men’s volleyball team while Carroll will compete on the women’s bowling team.

The 6-foot-3 Graziano was not looking at too many other places besides St. Francis. He said he will redshirt his freshman year.

“It’s a good fit,” he said. “It’s a small campus, it’s not too far away from home and it’s a good volleyball program. It’s nice to know where I will be playing for the next five years.”

Graziano said his two years with Eden Volleyball Club, coached by Robert Pierce, was big in his development as a player. It was while playing for Eden that St. Francis coach Mike Rumbaugh saw him.

“Club volleyball was huge,” he said. “We traveled to a bunch of places for tournaments. It helped me become a well-rounded volleyball player.”

Graziano will major in business.

The 6-foot-3 Graziano was a three-year starter for the Billies, playing his first two years at middle blocker before moving to the outside for his senior year.

South coach Thom Knab said Graziano had no problem changing positions for his senior year.

“In some ways, it was unfortunate we had to move him to the outside and help with serve-receive because we lost other players, but it showed his teamwork mentality,” Knab said.

Graziano finished his senior season with 222 kills, 95 blocks and 45 aces and his career with 572 kills, 385 blocks and 104 aces.

He helped the Billies to a 54-18 record and back-to-back division titles in 2013 and 2014, and a sectional final appearance two years ago.

“Christian is a student of the game and wants to keep getting better,” Knab said.

Carroll always wanted to bowl in college and have the opportunity to compete at NCAAs. Now she has her chance at St. Francis.

Carroll she said attended a collegiate expo last summer and St. Francis was there, but she did not get a chance to speak with them. When Carroll emailed St. Francis’ coach Tom Falbo about the team, he said she was one of the athletes he wanted to speak with.

The St. Francis women’s bowling team finished 74-40-1 and third at the Northeast Conference Championships, a year removed from placing first.

“The whole process has been exciting,” she said. “Now that I know where I am going to go, I’m excited to be part of a Division I team.”

Carroll finished her high school bowling career as one of the most decorated competitors in Section VI history.

She become the first female bowler in school history to win a section title — accomplishing the feat as a junior — and is a four-time state qualifier. She helped the Lady Billies to Class B section titles and the Section VI all-star team to state titles in her freshman and senior years.

As a freshman, she bowled a state record 779 set.

As a senior, Carroll was named the top ECIC all-star with a 214.72 average, had division high average and high set (735) and was named an ECIC North Large Division all-star.

“St. Francis has signed one heck of a player, student and person,” South coach Steve Delisanti said. “Haley will be a huge asset to their program.”

Haley’s father, Jerry, Cheektowaga’s boys bowling co-coach, said he never pushed his daughter into bowling, but said she has the fire and desire to compete from her mother, Cindy Coburn-Carroll, a Hall of Fame bowler.

Coburn-Carroll said she has seen a greater maturity in her daughter’s game, which will help get her prepared for competing in college.

Haley Carroll will major in business.

email: pnagy@beenews.com

2015-05-13 / Sports

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