Tucson, AZ (Arizona Athletics) -
In the fall of 2008, before she was a high school All-American, before she was the Gatorade Player of the Year, before she set her school's record for career kills, Madi Kingdon was a promising sophomore at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix. Prepping in the heart of Sun Devil country, her college choice may have seemed obvious, instead, she opted to head south on Interstate-10.
Six years later Kingdon is an All-American, ranks third in the country in kills, averaging 5.68 per set and has led Arizona to its best start since 2009. For ASU head coach Jason Watson, Kingdon may be the one that got away. Kingdon took an unofficial visit to ASU, but was never offered a scholarship.
“It didn't matter,” said Kingdon. “I knew where I was going.”
A week later, she committed to Arizona, where she is currently fifth all-time in career kills (1,525), third in 10-plus-kill matches (89), fourth in 20-plus-kill matches (20), third in attempts (4,382) and is on pace to leave Arizona with the most career matches played.
On Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Kingdon will square off with Arizona State for the final time in McKale Center. This time it carries a little extra weight, as both teams are ranked in the top 20, making this the first Arizona-ASU matchup that features two ranked teams since 2002.
“I'm excited,” said Kingdon. “It should be a great atmosphere in McKale. Nothing beats the energy in McKale when we get big crowds for big games like this.”
Kingdon grew up playing with and against many of the ASU players.
“Being from Phoenix, this game means a lot to me,” said Kingdon. “I feel like I always bring a little extra when we play ASU.”
The stats back her up. In six career matches, Kingdon has totaled 102 kills (4.44/set). Kingdon has recorded double-digit kills in each match, including three 20-kill efforts.
The implications of this game are abundant. The rigorous road of the Pac-12 begins Wednesday, and both teams, who are jockeying for postseason positioning, want to get off on the right foot. Arizona is trying to stay perfect at home this season, where it has not lost a set. This is the first rivalry matchup of the year and it counts for half a point in the Territorial Cup Series. And of course, bragging rights.
“The rivalry is strong,” said senior libero Ronni Lewis, who also will be playing her final home game against ASU on Wednesday. “The territorial cup is important. Now as seniors, this school's become more a part of our lives. This means a lot to us and our hard work will show that and the support of our fans will show that.”
Senior Taylor Arizobal is also preparing to play her final home match vs. ASU.
“Everyone all around McKale all week always comes up to you, ‘beat ASU!'” said Arizobal. “It adds a little extra hype. I hope we get a large crowd; just energy-wise that would really help us out.”
Kingdon and the seniors meet ASU on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network, where pride and a 1-0 conference start is on the line.