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The Daily Wildcat

 

Volleyball’s Kingdon ready to assume leadership role

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Amy Webb
Amy Webb / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona Wildcats Volleyball vs. Oregon.

Madi Kingdon, a sophomore on Arizona’s volleyball team, is expecting more of herself as a player and a leader this year, in the hopes of improving on a 2011 season that saw the Wildcats sputter out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round.

The former All Pac-12 Freshman Team member and outside hitter spoke with the Summer Wildcat about her adjustment to the collegiate level, playing for Team USA this summer and how her role on the team has changed.

Summer Wildcat: How hard was it to make the adjustment from high school to college?

Madi Kingdon: It’s really hard actually, because when you go to college, the game is a lot faster. Most of the practices involved just adjusting to the speed of the game rather than speed or technique. Girls are a lot slimmer and stronger, so they hit faster and harder because it’s a faster game I guess.

You were selected to be on the All Pac-12 Freshman Team, how could you have been better?

Actually, during the season, I was injured halfway through, so I feel like if that were to not happen I would have been a lot better, not to blame my not doing better on injury. I think having that not happen, I would have been able to perform a lot better because I missed some games because of that.

There are seven freshmen on this season’s roster. What do you tell them to ease the transition you just had to make?

Just to stay focused. A lot of times, even now, I get frustrated when they’re trying to teach me stuff, but the faster you adjust to the new higher level of play, the easier it will be. I would tell them to focus on what you’re learning instead of getting angry about learning new things from our coaches and the new style of play.

Three of your teammates are headed overseas to play for the Team USA Development Team. How does experience like that from other players help the team?

It helps a lot because they get to play with different players and of course, they’re in another country, so they get to see how players play over there. It’s just a different level of intensity instead of being at open gyms and playing against the same people all the time. They get to experience a new team and play with other girls and see how it is to play with other girls. They can bring that back to us and have a different way of playing with us and incorporate things that they learned from playing with other girls.

If you could change anything about last season, other than injury, what would it be?

I think when we went to the NCAA tournament we lost in the first round. I think that we had a lot of team drama I guess you could say. I wish in that game, in that one situation, we all could have been more of a family instead of separate individuals playing.

How do you prevent that team drama from coming up again this season?

I think just making sure you include everyone in team activities because girls have a tendency to be very cliquey. I think everyone hanging out and being friends and a family atmosphere, we’ll be all right.

What did you most want to improve on at the end of last season?

I think being a leader and a role model for the incoming freshmen, and even for people on our team now. We don’t have any seniors this year, so some younger people are going to have to step up and lead our team. I think that me and our libero (junior Candace Nicholson) do that really well.

You played for Team USA Volleyball this summer. How does that experience help you individually?

It’s the same thing as the other girls who are in Europe right now. It’s a whole different experience with some of the best girls in the country, so it is like a higher level of play. I just feel like going there and getting away from my team and playing with girls that play just because they love the sport is so refreshing. Sometimes, people will go to practice and everyone is like “Oh, it’s just another day of practice,” so going there and playing with people who genuinely love playing volleyball is a refreshing experience.

How do you resist a sophomore slump?

I go to therapy and stuff every day. I rolled both my ankles, so I got to rehab every day for that and then for team drama stuff, we’ve just been including a lot of the freshmen in going to dinner, just hanging out with them and stuff and making them feel included. It sucks to come here and not know anyone and not have your team accept you.

What are your best and worst attributes on the court?

I think my best attribute would be that I’m an all-around player. I support my team really well, but on the other hand, when I’m frustrated, I kind of shut down and I don’t really talk to people, so I figure I need to work on when I make mistakes, being able to come back from that in a less negative way and more positive toward myself.

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