CORVALLIS, Ore. -- As Oregon State looks to return to the big dance in volleyball, the Beavs will lean heavily on the likes of Haylie Bennett and Maddie Gravely.
They're not just two pivotal players, but two homegrown athletes playing in their own backyards.
Gravely is a Santiam Christian alum while Bennett is a Philomath grad.
Bennett's path to OSU may had been paved well before she even started playing volleyball; her mother Helen is a former Oregon State middle blocker.
"Ever since I was little I would say, 'Mom, I'm going to go here and I'm going to beat your records,' and she would say, 'OK; I'll be happy if you do,'" recalls Bennett, a sophomore outside hitter for the Beavers.
Both athletes take to the Gill Coliseum court with a sense of pride, representing their hometowns with their friends and families in the stands.
"That's a really big deal to me," says senior Gravely, a middle blocker, "and to play for my family and make them proud in front of my hometown, that's why I chose it here."
With being local comes an extra sense of support and never taken for granted "when you're just walking around town, the fan base is super strong."
"It's been really special being a hometown girl and having that fan base. It's also been really special having my parents here to support me."