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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Volleyball’s Kingdon playing well beyond her years as frosh

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Annie Marum
Annie Marum / Arizona Daily WIldcat Soccer vs Oregon

She leads the team in kills, starts every match and was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week.

Her award reminded everyone that Madi Kingdon is only a freshman.
Apparently, even she forgets.

“I feel like everyone else on the team doesn’t classify me as a freshman either,” Kingdon said. “It’s weird being freshman of the week when I’ve already been here.”

Kingdon, who hails from Phoenix, opted to graduate early from Sunnyslope High School and come to Arizona in the spring 2011 semester.

Arizona volleyball head coach Dave Rubio approached her during the summer before her senior year with the proposition of coming early.

“It was really hectic trying to get all of my classes together for that,” Kingdon said. “I took a bunch of online classes and a full schedule just so I could leave early.”

Another motivating factor was her club coach Terri Spann’s decision to switch teams, making Kingdon’s upcoming club season look less appealing, she said.

Rubio also told her she would play in every rotation.

“I actually talked to Dave (Rubio) about it before I got here, and the thing that he recruited me for was because I was a six rotation player,” Kingdon said. “That’s why I came here, because he told me I’d play all the way around.”

Rubio knew Kingdon could consistently score and pass, a rarity in volleyball.

“She’s very competitive,” Rubio said. “She’s got tremendous skills as a freshman — her skill set is like that of someone who is a junior in college. You can sometimes find someone who scores, but it’s hard to find someone who can pass too.”

Kingdon said she doesn’t regret forgoing half of her senior year, missing prom and other senior festivities. She didn’t even go to her graduation ceremony.

A coach’s influence develops an Arizona-bred volleyball player

During Kingdon’s senior year of high school, her team won its third consecutive Class 4A Division I championship (41-3), and she was named both the Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year and Arizona Republic’s Player of the Year.

In her final season, she racked up 587 kills and is currently the record-holder for kills at Sunnyslope.

She started playing volleyball in eighth grade, and played on Arizona Storm club volleyball under Spann.

Initially she was a middle blocker, but gladly switched to the outside because she didn’t enjoy the heavy emphasis on blocking.
Through club she not only found her signature position, but also a close friend in Spann.

“I love her, she texts me all the time after games, and Dave will text her,” Kingdon said. “We talk a lot. She’s really important in my life.”

Spann, who is currently the co-director of Arizona Storm, referred to herself as Kingdon’s occasional, “personal shrink.”

“Student-athletes go through so much,” Spann said. “Madi leaving high school early to go to college — she was always a mature player — but it’s challenging to deal with everything that comes with being a student-athlete. Anytime she has issues, she texts me or calls me. I wasn’t going to sit there and coddle her or anything like that. I’m all about thickening up her skin and getting her ready to be great.”

When Kingdon left for Arizona, she became somewhat of a rival to Spann. But the rivalry didn’t stop Spann from supporting Kingdon’s decision.

“I’m an ASU alumna so I wasn’t that keen on Arizona,” Spann said. “But, I also know that Dave is a phenomenal coach, so I was totally supportive of her going to Arizona. I’m just so happy about how well she’s been doing.”

Labeled a Wildkitten

So far she is enjoying her freshman season and likes all of her teammates, Kingdon said.

She especially enjoys her playtime.

“Playing all the way around,” Kingdon said, “I’m one of the only players that gets to do that.”

Her favorite moment happened last Saturday, when Arizona upset No. 2 UCLA.

Against the Bruins, Kingdon had 16 kills and 11 digs, making it her fifth double-double of the season — further proof of her maturity.

Even with her skill set and apparent experience, her team has an interesting nickname for her.

“Everyone calls me ‘Fetus,’ because when I got here I was 17,” said Kingdon. “They all call me Baby or Fetus. I’m like, ‘Stop calling me that.’ And there are freshmen that are younger than me, but they still call me Fetus, especially Tori (Moore). She does it all the time, and I’m like, ‘Tori, I’m not that young anymore,’ and she’s like, ‘You’ll always be a little fetus.’”

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