Unknown Senior Star Leads Missouri Volleyball Team

8 years 3 months 6 days ago Saturday, March 12 2011 Mar 12, 2011 Saturday, March 12, 2011 10:34:00 AM CST March 12, 2011 in Tiger Talk
By: Eric Blumberg

COLUMBIA - The Missouri volleyball team has won seven of its last eight matches. The Tigers are led by an unknown, even among her teammates.

It's not unusual for the Missouri volleyball team to have a foreign influence. In the past they've had players from Brazil and China...and now a Colombian is making a name for herself.

The first thing you need to know about Mizzou's team leader in kills is how to pronounce her name. Teammates, coaches, even announcers get it wrong. Her name is Paola Ampudia.

"They say Ampudia, but I don't know why," Ampudia said, "I'm just like, okay, whatever."

"We just call her P," explained Coach Wayne Kreklow, "keep it simple."

Simple sounds swell... a recommendation from her junior college coach sent her to Mizzou.

"Susan and Wayne are the best coaches in the United States. They're really good so you have to go there," stated Ampudia.

Ampudia is the first student manager Coach Kreklow's ever recruited.

"She was a student manager for her third year. She was with the program, but did not compete," explained Kreklow.

Instead she focused on the academics and Ampudia earned her way into a division one school.

"I miss my family," said Ampudia. "We used to meet on the weekends, on Sunday. Everybody at my grandpa's house so I miss that part."

But recently, the family came to her. Ampudia's mom and dad are in the United States for the first time to see the final month of her college volleyball career.

"I watched her on the internet and I'm happy with that, but to be here is amazing," said Pablo Ampudia, Paola's dad.

Ampudia says there's only one problem having the parents in town...

"My mom wants me to cook," explained Paola, "she's like I'm on vacation."

Ampudia says she eventually got her mom to cook her a favorite chicken and rice meal. She credits her parents for her athletic skills...her mom played basketball and her dad played soccer.

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