The setter helped the Cougars reach the state playoffs for the second year in a row this past season.

by: KORY MACGREGOR - Canby setter Abby MacGregor (5), shown against Jesuit this past season, will continue her volleyball career at George Fox University in Newberg.Abby MacGregor wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to play volleyball after high school. She wasn’t even sure she was good enough.

Then came a call from Hesston College in Kansas, a letter from Corban University in Salem and a future-altering realization.

“I was like, ‘Oh, dang, I can actually play in college,” the Canby High School senior said. “It was really humbling.”

MacGregor, an all-league setter this past season, eventually decided to continue her athletic career at George Fox University in Newberg. She will join a program that is run by longtime coach Steve Grant, who is entering his 33rd year at the helm.

MacGregor expects to build on her skills as a setter for the Bruins, who compete in Division III. They went 12-12 overall this past season, including 7-9 in the Northwest Conference.

George Fox has always stood out as an attractive option to MacGregor, who has family connections to the school. She plans to study exercise science and pursue a career in physical therapy.

“I really wanted to go there,” she said. “I had been in contact with the coach there, and I emailed him saying, ‘Can I set up a meeting with you? I just want to talk about my future at George Fox.’ He told me he had a spot on the team.”

MacGregor’s decision to play at GFU starts another segment of a volleyball career that had a somewhat bumpy beginning.

Shortly after MacGregor’s love for basketball petered out in middle school, she was encouraged by her second cousin, Janissa Roth, to try volleyball. It led to MacGregor testing out the sport at a North Marion camp.

“I started out being the worst of the worst,” she said with a laugh.

But she got better. She played at Ninety-One School in seventh grade. She joined the club ranks. She developed her abilities under the tutelage of Terri Jo Schlatter, who later served as the high school volleyball coach for her senior season with the Cougars.

The training helped her earn a spot on her club organization’s top team the following year.

“I was super excited about that,” she said. “I proved to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to.”

MacGregor started out in volleyball as a defensive specialist but weaved her way into setting following the departure of her club team’s offensive orchestrator. The rest, it seems, is history.

“I like being in control of the game,” she said.

MacGregor was a multi-year starter at Canby. She dished out out dozens of assists to graduated star Emilie Wilmes as a junior under then-coach Caitlin Gustin, and she led the team to its second-straight state playoff appearance as a senior under Schlatter.

“Abby was our rock,” Schlatter said at the end of the 2013 campaign. “Being so steady, she leads by example. She ran our offense. A lot of the things we did were because of how well she has done.”

Over the last seven years, MacGregor has amassed a large collection of memories on the volleyball court. She remembers earning a rare win over North Clackamas in a club match. She recalls the excitement of making the CHS junior-varsity team as a freshman and scoring three aces against Jesuit during a jamboree. She hasn’t forgotten what it felt like to notch her first career block.

“I’m not very tall, so I don’t really block much,” she said. “I cheered so loud. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited.”

MacGregor also has fond memories of winning her first tournament, celebrating with teammates and learning the nuances of the sport from Schlatter.

“Having T.J. as a coach has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year.”

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