WHY SHE WAS SELECTED:
Newark sophomore outside hitter Madi Malone had 31 kills – one shy of her career-high – to lead the Norsemen past Durand in a Class 1A supersectional and back to the state tournament for the second straight year.
Malone talked to sports editor Joshua Welge about her big match, about the improvements in her game and the weekend ahead. Here is an edited version of the transcript:
Welge: 31 kills. That's crazy! What was your reaction when you heard that number?
Malone: I knew I was getting the kills, but obviously I would not have got them without my passers and my setter [Olivia Nelson]. I was pretty amazed that I got that many.
Welge: You had a tough match against that team at state last year. What did your coach tell you before this match?
Malone: She said make them remember me as a player. The last time I played them, I didn't really like how I played. She told me to make them remember me, to play my hardest.
Welge: Is it a different feeling this year going to state?
Malone: It is. We feel more experienced this year. I feel like last year we were just happy to be there. This year, we are very motivated to win these games. We know what it is like to be there. It was definitely intimidating being down there last year, but we got play at Redbird Arena during the summer and last year.
Welge: Your team seems so much more balanced this year. How has that helped you?
Malone: It's really good. All of our front-row players can put the ball down in the right situation. It's great that we can spread it around. They're all doing a good job.
Welge: How has your hitting out of the back row improved?
Malone: I'm definitely trying to place the shots more, and trying to score instead of just hitting them as hard as I can. Olivia is giving me great shots to hit to those corners.
Welge: You're a great hitter, but how much pride do you take in the other parts of your game?
Malone: I've really wanted to focus on becoming a six-rotation player, where I can play just as well out of the back row and play defense, improve my serve receive and passing.
Welge: OK, let's end with a few fun questions. Do you have a routine before each match?
Malone: We do a few cheers as a team, and we always pray.
Welge: What's your favorite TV show?
Malone: "One Tree Hill."
Welge: Favorite movie?
Welge: Favorite subject in school?
Welge: Favorite pro sports team?
Malone: White Sox.