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Valparaiso's Kennedy Wagner draws inspiration from sister before choosing Ole Miss
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WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL

Valparaiso's Kennedy Wagner draws inspiration from sister before choosing Ole Miss

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VALPARAISO — Recruiting might have been stressful for Kennedy Wagner, but the Valparaiso star volleyball player embraced the process to make sure she found the right fit.

Wagner announced her commitment to Ole Miss on Twitter late Wednesday night, bringing an end to a process that began when she burst on the scene as a freshman two years ago.

“It’s such a stress relief for me to have this over with,” Wagner said. “I was overwhelmed at first, but I really didn’t want to rush things. I wanted to take things slow and that ended up being the best thing for me.”

Wagner picked Ole Miss after considering offers from Alabama, UC Santa Barbara and Virginia. The 2020 Times All-Area selection had 374 kills, 361 digs and 49 aces as a sophomore. She has started off her junior season on a blistering pace, averaging 5.4 kills per set in the first three matches of the year.

“I felt a lot of pressure, but once I committed, it was a weight off my shoulders,” Wagner said. “I can just go out there and play without worrying about where I’ll be next.”

Wagner drew inspiration through the recruiting process from her sister Serena, who committed to Butler early in her high school career. After spending less than a year with the Bulldogs, she ended up transferring and is now at Southeastern Louisiana.

“We had a couple conversations about things and after seeing how they turned out for her, I really didn’t want to rush anything,” Wagner said. “She just told me that I’d know when I would be ready and to enjoy the entire process. She wanted me to get to know the coaching staff and have those conversations.”

It was the Ole Miss coaching staff that drew in Wagner to ultimately commit to join the Rebels. She visited the campus earlier this summer and fell in love with the staff, the team and the chance to get away from home.

“The Ole Miss community and how they treat their athletes, especially when it comes to academics, that was really important to me,” Wagner said. “The culture and the atmosphere; everyone was really welcoming. I told myself that I didn’t want to stay close to home. I wanted to explore something new and going down south is where I fit perfectly. I love the (Southeastern Conference) and I can’t wait to get down there.”

Wagner is the second athlete from Northwest Indiana to commit to Ole Miss in recent weeks. Munster softball senior Paige Vukadinovich committed to the Ole Miss earlier this month.

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Paul Oren has been a correspondent reporter for The Times since 2005. A member of the United States Basketball Writers Association, Paul has spent more than 15 years covering Valparaiso basketball.

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