West High senior Maddie FayBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – West High has more than 1,000 kills this season. 1,045 kills to be exact.
Seniors Madi Ford and Maddie Fay are officially responsible for less than three percent of that number, combining for exactly 30 kills this season.
The duo has been behind just about every one of those kills this season, they just don’t get credit for them.
And that’s precisely the way that Ford and Fay prefer it.
“I’m all for my team, whatever I can do to help us get a kill, help us get a win, that’s what I’m trying to do,” Ford said. “I don’t really care if I get kills and stats and fame or not.”
Ford and Fay have both played critical roles in helping eighth-ranked West High (23-14) return to the Class 5A state tournament for the third straight season.
Fay and Ford have excelled in those roles this season each earning all-conference honors.
It just so happens that neither player has a role that garners a lot of attention from the casual volleyball fan.
The work done by Fay, a three-year starter at setter and Ford, a libero is what produces the kills that draw big cheers from fans and grab the attention from media.
That’s fine with the duo that shares a name, a friendship and a similar view of how they fit into a sport that thrives on teamwork and each player doing their job.
“I want to get people the opportunity to get kills,” Ford said. “I don’t care if my name is in the papers I just want to help other people succeed.”
Ford grew up with the same vision as most of her teammates, becoming a dominant hitter that drew attention and piled up kills.
By the time Ford got to high school she decided to change that plan.
“I was shorter than everyone else,” Ford said. “Everyone out grew me.”
The 5-foot-8 Ford had tried libero her first season of club volleyball. She went back to the position at West High and found a home.
Ford was a first team selection in the Mississippi Valley Conference’s Mississippi Division this season after leading West High with 391 digs.
“Madi Ford has done a phenomenal job,” West High coach Dolson said. “She was first team all-conference and she definitely deserved it. I think she was the best libero in the conference.”
A Drake recruit, Ford went over the 1,000-dig mark in her career this season and ranks 13th in Class 5A in both digs and digs per set at 4.34.
“I just feel like I have the mindset of a libero and that kind of helped me out,” Ford said. “I think that a libero has to be a leader and has to know that every ball is theirs. You aren’t pushing people out of the way but you have to be aggressive about taking balls and know that nothing is hitting the floor.”
Fay always knew she wanted to be a setter.
A coach was impressed with her hands in her first season in the sport and put Fay at setter and she never left the position.
“I just always wanted to be a setter,” Fay said. “I didn’t think I would ever be that tall so I figured I would stick with setting.”
Staying at setter has proved to be a wise move for Fay, who has more than 2,100 assists as a three-year starter at West High.
The 6-foot Fay has handed out 682 assists this season after posting 814 last season as a junior.
Fay, who will play collegiately at South Dakota State, also leads West High with 38 aces entering West High’s quarterfinal matchup with second-ranked Ankeny Centennial (32-3) at the Class 5A state tournament on Tuesday at Noon at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
“She has stepped up,” Dolson said of Fay. She has the experience and that’s what we like. This is her third year setting at the state tournament and that experience is important.
Ford, who teammates call ‘Spice’ to avoid confusion with two Madis on the court at the same time, is often the first element in setting up a West High kill.
Her passing and communication with Fay is an important part in creating hitting opportunities. “Hitters get the fame but it’s nice to know that we can pass up and make that happen,” Ford said. “In our minds we know that it couldn’t have happened without us.”
Fay is the one responsible for distributing the ball to a talented group of West High attackers that features four players with more than 180 kills.
In order to get a good set Fay needs a good pass and seamless communication with Ford.
“I’m working really close with the libero because she talks to me in the back row and I tell her if she needs to get the pass higher,” Fay said. “She is right behind me so we are always talking to each other.”
This season that combination has been working together better than ever and people are taking notice.
“Last year we had trouble meshing but this year I think she has improved a lot and has really taken on a leadership role,” Fay said. “She has been really confident which I think has been good.”