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Friday, September 8, 2017

Madison Rigdon tallies 1,000th career kill as KU volleyball downs Purdue

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Madison Rigdon spiked the ball off a Purdue defender and turned back to her team.

She quickly and nonchalantly slapped hands with a pair of teammates. Her stoic expression remained as she returned to her spot on the floor.

Rigdon had done that exact thing a countless number of times in practices, scrimmages and games, and this one was no different. The milestone she’d hit was nowhere near her mind. It was on to the next point.

“I’ve always played like that,” Rigdon would later say with a shrug.

The kill, the 1,000th of her college career, and the 14 others she tallied on Friday helped the No. 7 Jayhawks down No. 17 Purdue in four sets (25-18, 25-17, 18-25, 25-19).

And while the history of the moment — Rigdon became just the 16th Jayhawk to accomplish that feat — was an afterthought, it wasn’t lost on those watching.

Several rows back of the court, Madison’s father Ronnie surveyed the action. He donned a No. 14 KU baseball jersey with the nameplate “Mad Dawg Rigdon” ironed onto the back.

Asked about his daughter after the game, Ronnie merely pointed to the court. Against Purdue, Madison opposed a pair of outside hitters who stood at a towering 6 foot 5 and 6 foot 4. But as the match began, none of that seemed to matter. The Jayhawks dominated the early action, taking the first two sets and never appearing to be in any sort of danger of losing.

“It’s an uphill battle for her. You see the size of some of the opponents we face,” Ronnie said of his daughter, listed at 6 feet on the roster. “She works really hard to do the best with what she’s got physically. She might not be the tallest or the biggest, but man, she’s got the biggest heart.”

Certainly her teammates feel that way.

Regardless of how atypical Rigdon’s demeanor may seem on a rather energetic Jayhawk squad, it's one that helps guide the team through each of its matches. Even sophomore libero Allie Nelson, perhaps most dissimilar to Rigdon in temperament, notes the outside hitter is her “favorite person” to pass next to.

“She gets me amped,” Nelson says genuinely. And it shows.

No more did the two contrasting personalities come together than when they stood together after the match and Rigdon was asked about her accomplishment.

Nelson, who had little voice left after the Jayhawks’ pair of matches on Friday, slapped Rigdon twice in the stomach with the back of her left hand, beaming from ear to ear and overflowing with anticipation for her words — both of them, as it were.

“Pretty good,” Rigdon downplayed.

But on the historic night, with players like Kelsie Payne (19 kills), Ainise Havili (50 assists, 10 digs) and Nelson (16 digs) leading the way to a ninth straight win, there was no shortage of praise for the quiet senior.

And while Rigdon's answers were short and carefully crafted, it was coach Ray Bechard who gave the strongest statement about her, simply calling the Jayhawks "lucky" to have her on the team.

“The kid wasn’t highly recruited and she’s going to go down as one of the all-time greats here,” said Bechard. “I hope she’s got a few more kills left in that arm.”

Comments

David Kelley-Wood 2 months, 1 week ago

The season is still young, and Rigdon will leave #1,000 well behind her before it's over. From what I've been able to pick up on by listening to the game broadcasts over the past couple years, when it comes to taking that clutch swing, Madison Rigdon is about as good as they come.

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