It wasn’t long after Liberty High School volleyball coach April Fleming met Madison Duello that the tall, lanky sixth-grader began talking about her dream to play college volleyball.
Nearly six years later, that goal will soon be reached, when Duello, the ninth-ranked volleyball recruit in the 2015 class, heads to Wisconsin to continue her athletic career.
There have been a whole lot of other accomplishments along the way.
In her senior season at Liberty, Duello led the Blue Jays to the Missouri Class 4 Final Four, where the Jays settled for fourth place. She recorded 546 kills, 239 digs, 53 blocks and 23 aces this season and earned Missouri Gatorade player of the year honors.
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Her latest accomplishment: The Star’s All-Metro player of the year.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone quite like her,” Fleming said. “It’s not just the talent. It’s just the way she totally bought into volleyball. She has the ambition to be the best, and she doesn’t miss a day of training to do that. She’s always the hardest worker, leading us on the court and by example, too.”
Those examples churned toward a high level of production, which eventually resulted in All-American selection by various associations, including the American Volleyball Coaches Association and MaxPreps.com.
Liberty constructed its team around finding ways to best feed its 6-3 outside hitter, who recorded a .495 kill percentage this season. As a result, the Blue Jays finished 34-2-1 and took an unbeaten record into the state semifinals.
“Our strategy, more or less, was to get Madison the ball, and we’ll win the point,” Fleming said. “All of her teammates bought into that, too. They understood that’s what it took to win. We were really lucky with that part of it.”
The Star’s All-Metro volleyball team
Madison Duello, Liberty, senior. An All-American selection by multiple publications, Duello had 546 kills, 239 digs and 53 blocks while leading Liberty to the Missouri Class 4 Final Four. As the ninth-ranked recruit in 2015, she has signed with Wisconsin.
Audriana Fitzmorris, St. James Academy, junior. The CBS MaxPreps All-American had 668 kills, 219 digs, 67 solo blocks and 36 aces with a .455 hitting percentage on the season. She has a handful of Division I offers but hasn’t committed yet.
Lexi Hart, Truman, junior. The Evelyn Gates Award winner moved to outside hitter full-time this season and recorded 424 kills, 35 aces and a .356 hitting percentage. The Division I schools are already calling.
Carlisa May, Lee’s Summit West, senior. The outside hitter was an Evelyn Gates Award finalist after tallying 371 kills, 277 digs and 40 blocks this season. She was a MO-KAN All-Star and is headed to Arkansas State.
Carlyle Nusbaum, St. Thomas Aquinas, senior. The 2014 Gatorade Kansas Player of the Year led the Saints to the Class 5A state championship with 390 kills, 59 blocks and 262 digs. She will attend Lipscomb University.
Maddie Schneider, Olathe Northwest, senior. The Kansas Class 6A state player of the year recorded 520 kills and led the Ravens to a second-place finish at state. She was also named the Sunflower League Player of the Year.