VOLLEYBALL: Together again

Amber North

The two high school graduates knew it was going to end soon. All the good times they shared, all the fights they pulled through, all the guarantees of having a shoulder to cry on – gone.

Summer came but went quickly. Then came the autumn of their freshman year when they weren’t side-by-side on the volleyball court for the first time in seven years.

Sophomore outside hitter Jessie Wagner remembers how hurt she was when she found out her best friend, sophomore setter Caron Blotch, opted to attend University of Texas in Austin.

“I was kind of upset because I always said we’re going to be a package-deal when we go to college,” Wagner said. “I just always wanted to stay with her, but she decided to go to Texas, and I found Western.”

It was difficult for the two to cope with being miles away from each other, especially after being around each other for seven years.

Blotch and Wagner grew up in Franklin, Ind. and became friends in sixth grade at Custer Baker Middle. Blotch, who has played volleyball since fourth grade, convinced Wagner to join the volleyball team in seventh grade.

Their friendship grew closer, mainly during their junior and senior years of high school.

When together, the two are reminiscent of a Laverne and Shirley episode; Blotch is the levelheaded voice of reason while Wagner enjoys making everyone laugh with her goofy comedy.

Their different personalities were what kept them close.

“If we were alike we’d both be fighting for attention,” Blotch said.

But then the dreaded summer after graduation came when they had to face reality that they’d never be as close to each other or play volleyball together again.

“It was hard because during school and the summer before we left, we were always together and hanging out, so it was hard leaving,” Wagner said.

The two kept in touch while they were away because Blotch found herself unhappy at Texas. She called Wagner almost every night to be consoled, the way she was used to when they were in the same town.

“It was just that I wasn’t that close with anybody at Texas,” Blotch said. “I just needed someone to talk to and she basically turned into my counselor.”

Wagner knew her friend was miserable and began persuading her to leave Austin.

“The whole first semester I talked to her all the time and tried to get her to come here,” she said.

Blotch initially blew off the idea of transferring to Western but once Christmas break came around, she realized that she enjoyed being around a family atmosphere.

Blotch finally gave in to Wagner’s constant determination to come to Western. And she decided to transfer.

“Jessie came over to my house and basically lived at my house for three days talking about it, talking about how much she loved the players there,” Blotch said.

Before she finalized her decision, Blotch knew she had to do something she dreaded: telling her coach at Texas the news.

“The hardest thing I ever had to do was to call my coach and tell him that I was leaving,” she said. “I loved my coach, and it had nothing to do with him.”

After a year hiatus from each other, the duo are back together again, and they couldn’t be happier. And it isn’t a secret that they have a special connection, either.

“They’re like sisters because they fight like sisters,” Western coach Travis Hudson said. “But just like sisters, they’ll do anything for each other.”

As they await their season opener against Kansas, they don’t regret their decision to reunite.

“I’m glad we’re back together again and glad to see her happy now,” Wagner said.

“I’m happy that she got me here,” Blotch added.

Package delivered.

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