KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Winning at any level is quite the accomplishment, but to be able to do it in front of friends and family isn’t something many get the chance to do.
That’s why this year’s NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four is very special for Jenna Gray and Audriana Fitzmorris, sophomores on the Stanford women’s volleyball team.
“It's just a dream come true for Jenna and for our family," said Debbie Gray, Jenna Gray's mother. "It is clearly something that you dream of as a little girl and as a mom."
“We're going to be there," said Maria Luisa Fitzmorris, Audriana Fitzmorris' mother. "It's going to be fun. It's like a party. This is like a gift to be able to do this and be able to do this in Kansas City."
Audriana and Jenna have been teammates since high school. While at St. James Academy in Lenexa, the duo helped bring home three Kansas state championships.
Both girls moved out west to join the Stanford volleyball team and played key roles in helping Stanford win the 2016 National Championship as freshman. The duo now have another chance to add to their trophy case this year, and they’ll be able to do it in front of hundreds of familiar faces.
“It is great when it's somewhere else, but it's great when things get together and you can do them in your hometown," Maria Luisa said. "That's what I would really like to take out of this entire experience and having all the family and everybody being able to go and see them. This is unique, it's a treat."
Playing in the Final Four in KC is a goal the girls have had their eyes set on since watching the 2012 Final Four tournament at the Sprint Center when they were in high school.
"They watched a tournament in Kansas City in 2012, and they were in the line getting autographs," Maria Luisa said. "I think that kind of focused them because they knew that Kansas City was ahead for the tournament.”
“In playing, even against some of the girls that are seniors this year, were girls that she has gotten autographs from and admires them so much," Debbie said. "It`s pretty exciting to also be a role model, too, and have these little girls be so excited to get an autograph from her."
But more important than the hardware that’s on the line is the opportunity these lifelong friends will have performing at the highest level in front of the people that have supported them the most.
“Now that they are here it's also going to be part of our memories and their life, and our memories are all important. I think it's great,” Maria Luisa said.
“Being able for both of them to share because I know they had an equal dream and had both been at that Final Four years ago. I`m just excited for Audrey and for Jenna to share this together,” Debbie said.
Stanford will take on the Florida Gators at 8 p.m. Thursday at the Sprint Center.