A Semiahmoo Peninsula volleyball player is a few steps closer to playing for an NCAA volleyball title.
White Rock Christian Academy alum Gabby Brown is a member of the Baylor Bears women’s volleyball team – the No. 1 team in the U.S. university ranks – that has advanced into the Final Four round of the 2019 NCAA Div. 1 Women’s Volleyball Championship.
Baylor, which is located in Waco, Texas, will hit the court in Pittsburgh for a semifinal tilt Thursday against No. 4 Wisconsin.
Should Brown – who, as a freshman has not seen much playing time this season – and her Bears teammates defeat Wisconsin, they’ll advance to the championship game Saturday against either Stanford or Minnesota, who are squaring off in the other semifinal, also on Thursday.
Brown, who plays libero, was one of a handful of players with South Surrey/White Rock connections to hit the court for the 64-team national championship tournament.
Tiffany Westerberg, a Maple Ridge native who played club volleyball with Cloverdale/South Surrey-based Academy Volleyball, made it to the third round of the tournament with the No. 12-seeded University of Hawaii, winning an opening-round game against Northern Colorado, and a second-round tilt over San Diego before losing to No. 5-seeded Nebraska.
That San Diego team had among its ranks Thana Fayad, a Victoria native who, like Westerberg, trained at Academy Volleyball under local coach David Carrasco.
Another Peninsula athlete, Elgin Park Secondary alum Donnée Janzen, nearly made the tournament, as well, but her University of Idaho squad narrowly missed the cut, losing its final qualifying game.
Speaking with Peace Arch News earlier this month about the rarity of having some many local players in the tournament, Carrasco likened it to “a lightning strike.”
Brown was a key member of the White Rock Christian Academy team – coached by Carrasco – that won a senior girls single-A provincial championship in 2016.
Brown finished her high-school career at Semiahmoo Secondary, and after fighting through a handful of NCAA eligibility issues during her Grade 12 year and beyond, was accepted to play at Baylor.
Seeing her play at the NCAA level, Carrasco told PAN this week, “is to me one of the greatest achievements” he’s seen.
“I witnessed something special and I’ll never forget it,” he continued.