Brooke Westphal

Michigan City grad Brooke Westphal (No. 2) has returned to the volleyball court. She will play for Valparaiso University.

Brooke Westphal thought she was done with collegiate volleyball two years ago until a recent change of heart has her coming back to the Region.

Westphal enrolled at Valparaiso University and was granted a waiver by the NCAA on Friday morning for one final year of immediate eligibility this season. The waiver completed a whirlwind process that began late last month for Westphal.

“I took two years off from volleyball, and I thought I was done,” Westphal said. “Then I realized my time wasn’t over. I put my name in the transfer portal and two weeks ago I got picked up by (Valparaiso coach) Carin (Avery). Everything went really fast.”

Westphal couldn’t have predicted two weeks ago that she’d be going through photo shoots with the Valparaiso volleyball team on Friday, just as she couldn’t have predicted how her collegiate career would’ve unfolded when she graduated from Michigan City in 2015.

Westphal signed with South Florida College after a shoulder injury cut her senior prep season short. The outside hitter had 240 kills, 337 digs and 19 aces in an abbreviated senior year for the Wolves. She switched to libero in college and earned a scholarship to Arizona State after two years in Florida. She committed to the Sun Devils despite never visiting the campus and things didn’t work out once Westphal arrived in Tempe.

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“South Florida was the whole package for me and it was a really great time,” Westphal said. “Arizona State was a very good experience the couple of months I was there. I made a rapid decision to commit there and after that time, I just wanted to settle down and regroup on what I wanted to do going forward.”

Westphal left Arizona State in the fall of 2017 and hasn’t played collegiate volleyball in more than two years. Aside from playing a handful of beach and indoor volleyball matches in the last two years, Westphal concentrated on getting a job and beginning adulthood. Still, she felt an urge to finish what she started. Westphal wanted to earn her degree and fulfill a childhood dream of playing Division I volleyball. It all turned out to be music to Avery’s ears.

“I had heard through the grapevine that she might want to get back into volleyball and that she might want to stay around home to do it,” Avery said. “It was a real whirlwind. She had to get a waiver and we just found out this morning. I couldn’t be more excited for her and I couldn’t be more excited for us. She fits right into our program. She’s a gritty, competitive athlete. She’s a talent and I love that we’ll see her play one more time.”

Westphal will go back to being an outside hitter for the Crusaders, where she’ll team up with Bishop Noll product Brittany Anderson. The pair played together on the 11 Black team for Dunes Volleyball Club when they were in middle school.

“Brittany is an old friend,” Westphal said. “We just figured it out a few days ago when we were looking at old pictures. Coming home is one of the reasons why Valpo is such a perfect fit. To be able to finish out my volleyball career, and to do it where my family is close and can come watch me play. I’m really excited.”