For the second time in as many seasons, Arizona State is losing a player by way of transfer as freshman setter/outside hitter Madison McDaniel announced via her Instagram account that she will be heading to Rice in the spring.
McDaniel, a 6-foot prospect from The Woodlands, Texas, played an important utility role this season in Tempe, routinely stepping in at both pins when sophomores Kizzy Willey or BreElle Bailey struggled. On October 10 against California, McDaniel recorded a career-high seven kills.
She also posted 34 assists in an exhibition match against Mount Royal U, and that only complemented the flashes of productivity throughout the season.
Although ASU still boasts junior setter Bianca Arellano on the roster to run the offense, McDaniel provided a stability throughout the season as she gained more experience and adjusted to the speed of college volleyball. In 25 sets played, McDaniel racked up 23 kills, 14 digs and 12 blocks.
Head coach Jason Watson also complimented her willingness to do whatever the team needed her to do, whether that be setting, attacking or serving. What this move also takes away from Watson is the potential of running a 6-2 offense with both Arellano and McDaniel setting from the back row.
Watson never explicitly stated he was leaning toward that offensive philosophy, but even with various other Pac-12 teams (USC, Washington, Oregon, etc.) running the 6-2, the ability to explore that option is temporarily put to rest with McDaniel headed to Rice.
For McDaniel, the move will bring her back to her home state of Texas. Rice finished the season 23-10 (11-5 in conference) with their last game being a five-set loss to Western Kentucky in the Conference-USA tournament. Currently, the Owls’ roster possesses just one setter, redshirt freshman Katie Steel, so McDaniel should be able to compete for playing time quickly.
This is the second time in as many years ASU has lost a setter. Early in the 2013 season, Allison Palmer chose to transfer to Illinois after Arellano was given the majority of the playing time in an early-season tournament.
Watson’s team will not be short of depth, however, as the 2015 recruiting class boasts 6-foot-1 setter/right side hitter Kylie Pickrell from Coppell High School (Texas) and 6-foot middle blocker Jasmine Koontz from Klein High School (Texas). Pickrell would ideally play the type of role that McDaniel provided as the backup setter.
You can reach Zac Pacleb on Twitter @ZacPacleb or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org