Macey Gardner heads east, far east.
Can’t beat the heat? Go to China.
Literally, in the case of Macey Gardner, the Arizona State freshman and former Gilbert High volleyball standout.
She’s taking part in a Pac-12 all-star volleyball exhibition that will play at least six matches throughout China from June 15-27.
The team was selected by the coaching staff (led by USC coach Mick Haley) and includes two setters, one libero, three middle blockers and six outside hitters. Gardner is one of two freshmen on the squad. A Pac-12 All-Freshman and All Pac-12 honoree, Gardner set a new ASU freshman record for kills in a season (577) and finished the year as one of only three freshmen ever to lead the Pac-10/Pac-12 in total kills.
The 2012 Tribune Player of the Year as a senior at Gilbert who also led the Tigers to a state championship as a junior, Gardner’s first year in college volleyball didn’t appear to have speed bumps most encounter: Pac-12 All-Conference First Team; Pac-12 All-Freshman Team; Pac-12 Freshman of the Week (twice); MVP of ASU’s Sheraton Invitational; All-Tournament Team at the Kansas Jayhawk Invitational and All-Tournament Team at UTEP’s El Paso Sports Commission Invitational.
She now owns ASU freshman records for total kills (577), kills per set (4.40) and kills in a match (28), and is the first ASU player in a decade to be an all-conference selection.
She’s done the national competition circuit before (to a degree) after winning a bronze medal in the USA Junior National Olympics late in her high school career, but hadn’t seen this corner of the world before.
Such travels only make a person better, especially outside the lines. But ASU has not only an ambassador, but an anchor between the lines in the sophomore-to-be Gardner. Add in a core group of upcoming sophomores and juniors and a solid incoming recruiting class, and Gardner appears poised to not only lead the Sun Devils back to the postseason — where its been absent since 2006 — but, as she did at Gilbert, go above and beyond a quick postseason cameo.