By ANGEL CANEZ
Aztec Volleyball is being led by Madi Nash, a 19-year-old sophomore star outside hitter from Tucson’s Sahuaro High School.
Nash has a lifelong love for the sport of volleyball. She comes from a family of volleyball players: Her older sister Morgan Nash plays D-2 volleyball for Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri, and her twin, Abi, plays D-1 volleyball for Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.
Nash leads the team leader in kills (volleyball version on scoring a point) and is ranked 60th in the nation in kills per set at 2.7.
Nash gave a lot of credit for her improvement this year to Carla Garrett, Pima’s strength and conditioning coach.
“I think my physicality has improved a lot, and I feel like I started jumping a lot higher than I did last year,” Nash said. “I think that’s a lot to do with Carla Garrett, our strength coach. She also works with baseball, women’s basketball and softball.
“She started working with us this spring,” she continued. “I feel like that’s helped me get my vertical up a lot, and that’s helped me be better overall.”
“I’m really competitive and I love competing in general and it’s the one sport that I held onto and liked the most probably because I played with both my sisters so that also made a strong connection for me,” Nash said.
Nash said she started playing when she was about 10 years old in the second grade. She was won over completely while attending University of Arizona volleyball camp one summer, joining an official club team in the eighth grade.
Nash teamed up with her sister Abby and went on to win the national championship in 2016, winning four games in a row. Nash’s winning club team was coached by Pima’s current volleyball coach, Dan Bithell.
Nash’s decision to play for the Aztecs is rooted in loyalty.
“I’ve always wanted to play college volleyball,” Nash said. “But I wasn’t sure at what level. Through my senior year of school and club, I made the decision to stay in Tucson and have a couch like Dan who I knew and knew he was a really good coach.”
Bithell, too, spoke highly of Nash.
“Madi is a very motivated, detail oriented and high-energy player,” Bithell said. “Madi is always looking to make herself and her teammates better. She is a lot of fun to watch play the game because you can see she truly loves it and she thrives in the moment of competition.
“I have been very lucky to share some special moments with Madi both here at Pima and previously in club volleyball.”
Nash would like to continue playing volleyball after this year with the hopes of landing at a D-1 school outside of Tucson and hopefully out of state. Because she has lived in Tucson her whole life, she feels a change of scenery would be nice.
“It was a good choice for me to stay in Tucson the first two years of college, because I didn’t know if I was ready to leave,” Nash said. “But now I know I’m ready to leave and get out of Tucson and out of Arizona probably.”
Nash would like to pursue a career in athletic training and sports medicine after college.
“I had a really good sports medicine teacher in high school,” she said. “Having a good teacher in high school influenced me to want to do it more.”
Nash’s love of volleyball runs so deep that she even works as a youth volleyball coach. She recently found out that she will be head coach for a 12-year-old youth team this November.