COLUMBIA — Paola Ampudia and Rosa Medrano bicker just like every other pair of roommates.
“She never has time to talk to me,” Medrano said. “She’s always talking on the phone. To her family, her friends, her friends…her friends.”
The Missouri women's volleyball team lost 25-14, 25-20, 25-20 to No. 2 Texas on Wednesday 3-0 in Austin, Texas.
Paola Ampudia led the team with 16 kills and Rosa Medrano added 10. Ampudia has 82 kills in the past five matches.
Missouri plays next against rival Kansas at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Lawrence, Kan.
Ampudia denies the accusation with a long laugh and the conversation between friends moves on.
It’s a friendship that did not begin at Missouri.
As a freshman at Miami Dade, Ampudia moved right in with Medrano who was a sophomore on the volleyball team at the time. The two knew of each other through a family connection, but grew up in different countries, Ampudia in Colombia and Medrano in the Dominican Republic.
After playing two years together at Miami Dade, it was Ampudia who first started thinking about playing for a new school.
“At first I wanted to stay in Miami because of the Latin people and Spanish, but then I realized I need to learn more English, and I wanted a change in my life,” Ampudia said.
Medrano started looking at some other schools as well, but planned on staying somewhere in Florida.
“At the beginning I wanted to stay in Florida,” Medrano said. “It’s close to Santa Domingo, so I got to go home anytime. Life was like the same.”
But that was the problem. Ampudia wanted something different, so she convinced Medrano to visit Missouri with her. It was the last of the four schools the two visited and the only one outside of Florida.
It was the one.
“I’m here because I came to visit, and I like the culture and I liked the campus,” Ampudia said with her friend by her side.
“I’m here because my friend Paola’s here and the ex-Miami (Dade) coach told me about it,” Medrano added. “Also the coach (Wayne Kreklow) is super nice.”
Senior Amanda Hantouli said she couldn’t imagine making a move to a foreign country that speaks a different language, but she understands how having a friend to go through it all would help.
“I think it’s really neat that they have each other,” Hantouli said. “I think that’s a really good thing for them they that can feed off each other. It’s made the transition easier.”
Having Ampudia and Medrano around has made the atmosphere around the team more fun, Hantouli said.
“They’re both really great girls,” Hantouli said. “They are a lot of fun. We always have a lot of fun together as a team especially when we try to imitate them speaking Spanish. We have no idea what we’re saying. We just laugh a lot.”
More importantly for Kreklow, the two have made a positive impact on the court.
Ampudia came in with plenty of hype. The National Junior College Athletic Association named her the 2007 National Player of the Year for her success at Miami Dade, and she was dubbed the preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, but none of that guaranteed production for the Tigers.
After her best week of the season, Ampudia was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Monday. It was the third time this season she’s been given the award, the most times any Tiger has won it.
Saturday night against Nebraska, Ampudia found herself in a new role. With Julianna Klein, the Tigers’ leading hitter, bench ridden because of sickness, Ampudia was the go-to option rather than a complement to the offense.
“What can you say about Paola? I thought she just did a phenomenal job, just phenomenal,” Kreklow said after the game. “She’s the kind of player that seems to get better the more she swings at the ball.”
Ampudia got to swing at the ball a career high 61 times that night, and she made the best of them. She had a career high in kills (23), digs (13) and blocks (6).
“To be able to do what she did against that kind of a team (Saturday night) I think just shows what kind of a great player she is,” Kreklow said.
Medrano's in-game contributions haven’t been quite as lofty, but Kreklow said that’s likely because she didn’t spend the summer with the team in Columbia like Ampudia did.
Even with all the recent changes in their lives, Ampudia and Medrano have had each other to provide stability in new situations, despite all the time Ampudia spends on the phone instead of chatting with her roommate.