DAYTON — If Madison Foley had a nickname, it would be “Money”.
It’s not hyperbole, Foley is that good. When she goes up for a kill, there’s almost a 50 percent chance that Dayton’s volleyball team is going to win the point. She is money in the bank.
Heading into this weekend’s trip to Elko and Spring Creek, Foley had 171 kills in 320 attempts, including a 48.7 kill percentage and a .376 hitting percentage with just 35 attack errors. Those numbers are off the charts.
The 5-foot-9 senior is the main reason why Dayton is 30-1 overall and has already clinched the regular-season championship with a 13-0 record following wins at Spring Creek and Elko. The only thing missing in Foley’s career is a state title, and she believes this could be the year. Dayton last won a state title in 2004.
“I’m really happy with the way I’ve played this year,” Foley said recently. “I’m proud of my team and the way we have played.
“That’s all we want (is to win state). Coach (Monica Halverson) talks about it all the time. If we keep playing like we are, we can definitely can do it. That might sound cocky, but honestly I think we can do it.”
And, if the Dust Devils reach and/or win state, it will be Foley doing the bulk of the damage. Her success is no surprise to either of her coaches, Dayton’s Halverson or ex-Carson coach Justin Malley, who coaches Foley at the Silver State Volleyball Club.
“She is a force to be reckoned with,” Halverson said. “It’s been great having her for four years. She works extremely hard and is very coachable. Everybody on our team contributes, but Madi elevates our team.”
That’s the sign of a “star” player. He/she makes players around her better.
“If you look at her, at 5-9 she’s not physically intimidating,” Malley said. “She’s extremely quick and fast on her feet. Even when she’s off balance, she’s able to generate a lot of speed on the ball. She sees the block well, and she’s very confident at hitting the ball inside the block.”
Part of Foley’s success at Dayton can be attributed to setter Peach Coons, who is the person responsible for getting the ball to Foley.
“She knows what I like; what kind of sets I want,” Foley said. “I couldn’t do it without a good setter. If she’s off the net, I know exactly what she’s going to do.”
Foley said that her lack of height forces her to hit around, off the top or inside the block. It takes a player with good vision to see how she’s being blocked, and to have the skill set to adjust.
Many would argue that Foley racks up numbers against inferior high school teams. There is no doubt she would more than hold her own if she were playing Division I schools. In fact, Dayton has already beaten Douglas and Reed this year.
“I’ve thought about it,” Foley said. “When we’ve played those teams, I’ve done well. I think I’d be able to compete. It might be more fun to be in a better league, but I would not want to play with any other girls. I love my teammates.”
“She would be one of the best hitters in Northern Nevada,” said Carson coach Robert Maw, who has watched Foley play at the club level. “I have no doubt in my mind that she could play at the Division I level.”
On to UNR
Sometime next month, Foley will sign a national letter of intent to play for the University of Nevada and coach Ruth Lawanson in the fall. Because of NCAA regulations, Lawanson can’t make any comments about Foley.
Malley said there was a lot of interest in Foley, but that Idaho and Nevada were the only schools to make firm offers.
“I gave Nevada a verbal last November,” Foley said. “They wanted me to commit by a certain date, and I told them that I wasn’t going to be able to commit by then. After we talked on the phone, I ended up agreeing to go there. It will be great because my parents will get to see me play a lot.”
“Nevada has been going through some struggles,” Malley said. “Madi can help them make the next step. I think with Nevada she will be able to get some playing time right a way. I think she’ll be able to compete for a starting spot.”
Added Halverson, “I think she’ll do great. She works hard. She will make a name for herself; make a statement from Day 1.”
When you ask Foley what she needs to improve on to make it in college, she is quick with an answer.
“I need to work on my vertical,” Foley said. “I have these catapult shoes that are supposed to help your vertical by six inches. I’ll use them in the off-season.”
The Dayton senior also wants to be better at passing.
“I have to be better at passing. If I’m a good passer, it will help keep me on the floor; help with my playing time,” she said.
Malley thinks Foley is just being hard on herself.
“She’s tough on herself,” Foley’s club coach said. “She’s a better passer than she thinks. Because of the skill level of the liberos, she’s become a target in club tournaments. Her passing will get better. She’s not a bad passer.
“She needs to put on some weight and get stronger. The college game is tremendously long and physically draining compared to club and high school.”
It’s a challenge that Foley is prepared to meet head on.