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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

As UA volleyball ends season, Madi Kingdon ends her storied career

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Rebecca Noble

Arizona volleyball outside hitter Madi Kingdon (9) spikes the ball past BYU middle blocker Amy Boswell (10) during Arizona’s 3-1 loss in the second round of the NCAA Division I Championship Tournament in McKale Center on Friday. Kingdon ends her Arizona career as one of the most decorated players in program history.

As senior outside hitter Madi Kingdon walked off the McKale Center court for the final time in an Arizona uniform, something just didn’t seem right. She had played her hardest, and it wasn’t the way she had wanted to go out. Instead, the BYU Cougars took Arizona’s chance for a Sweet Sixteen bid, defeating Arizona volleyball in a four-set affair in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The 6-foot-1 senior from Phoenix had fought for her team’s life throughout the match, amassing a career-high 33 kills, along with 23 digs and five blocks. Of the Wildcats’ total 184 attacks, Kingdon alone had 84.

But on the final strike of her career, the ball hit the net and rolled onto the floor, labeled as an attack error.

“I just didn’t think the end of our season would come this soon,” Kingdon said. “I thought we could have made it past this round. It’s disappointing, and I’m sad to be done, but there’s nothing we can do now.”

Kingdon will leave the Arizona volleyball program as one of the best and most decorated players in program history. She holds the record for career matches played with 129, is second in kills with 1,943 and second in digs with 1,366.

In addition, Kingdon also holds the all-time record in sets played, kill attempts and 10-plus kill matches.

As soon as Kingdon stepped onto the UA campus, she became a leader. As a freshman, she led the Wildcats in kills in 17 of 30 matches. During her sophomore season, she earned Pac-12 Conference honorable mention all-conference honors, and in her junior season, she was named to the All-Pac-12 team.

When you add in her leadership and poise, Kingdon brought much more to the table than stats and awards. Opposing head coaches had to plan around her, and she provided that captain role for the Wildcats all season long.

“I take it for granted, as I do with all of the seniors next year when their presence is not here,” UA head coach Dave Rubio said. “There are a lot of things that you take for granted right now as a head coach that you won’t really know about how good you have it, until you no longer have it.”

This senior class is highly regarded in Rubio’s eyes, and he said that this class may be the best since 2005.

“Their presence and their leadership throughout the season is the reason why we were as good as we were,” Rubio said. “Their leadership has been outstanding. They will surely be missed next year.”

Last season, the Wildcats lost two senior liberos in Emily Kiser and Candace Nicholson due to graduation. Nicholson was one of the best liberos in school history, but this year’s team was able to move forward.

“This year,” Rubio said, “and what I think we are all most proud of, is that a year ago, maybe nine months ago, we lost a couple of players that were significant players for us. … This group really rallied and didn’t let those departures affect the team. In fact, it actually made the team stronger, and as a result, we were able to have the best year in close to 10 years.”

This season, the Wildcats will lose Kingdon and outside hitter Taylor Arizobal, libero Ronni Lewis, middle blocker Rachel Rhoades and libero Kennedy Wesley. Arizobal, Lewis, Kingdon and Rhoades have played with each other since they were freshmen and have had Rubio to guide them every step of the way.

“We are going to be alumni, and I just hope that next year, they can make us proud and we are going to be involved,” Lewis said. “Even though we are not on the court, we are still going to be team members.”

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Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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