There’s no question that this season’s Valley High School varsity volleyball team is a special group, and no, it’s not merely because of immense talent.
It’s due to chemistry, camaraderie, and support — on and off the floor — that’s led the Class 5A third-ranked Tigers to a 38-3 overall record and a 22-match win streak into postseason action. Every student-athlete on Valley’s 13-player roster understands their role, with the intent of hoisting an Iowa high school state tournament gold for the first time in program history come November.
And senior Madi Kubik, one of the most accomplished student-athletes to come through West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS), is at the forefront of this outstanding unit.
“A lot of us are really close both on the volleyball court and outside,” Kubik said. “I think we have a really close-knit group. That makes it easier for us to push each other.”
‘It’s Amazing To See Her Continue To Grow’
Kubik, a 6-foot-1-inch outside hitter, has earned every athletic accolade imaginable during her high school volleyball career: Gatorade Iowa Volleyball Player of the Year, Elite all-state, Class 5A Player of the Year — you name it.
Additionally, she’s a member of the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team, competing internationally while donning the red, white, and blue. Kubik and her fellow U.S. teammates qualified for the 2019 FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship earlier this year after defeating the Dominican Republic in finals of the 12-country NORCECA Championship in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
#USAVwjnt is #GOLDEN and 2019 @fivbvolleyball U20 World Championship bound after def. #DominicanRepublic 3-0 in #NORCECA Women's U20 Championship. @mollyphillips_ leads with 13 pts. @MadiKubik adds 12. @loganegg_ named MVP. Recap | https://t.co/TXH4eDy7gw pic.twitter.com/ZaF4UJZKFv
— USA Volleyball (@usavolleyball) June 24, 2018
Kubik, a University of Nebraska recruit, has started for Valley since her freshman year in 2015. Since then, and prior to the Tigers’ Oct. 23 regional match vs. Des Moines East, Valley has gone an astonishing 162-26.
Kubik has recorded 1,815 kills so far in her Valley career, which is tops in Valley program history and fifth-best all time in Iowa, according to a recent report by KNIA Radio in Pella.
This season, she’s averaging 5.16 kills per set — a mark that ranks among the best in all classes.
“It’s amazing to see her continue to grow as a player,” Kubik’s mother, Renae Kubik, said. “Every single year, it seems like there’s something more that she’s received. It’s awesome to watch.”
Ninth-year head coach Jeremy Mikesell said strong athletes have come through Valley’s program, but Kubik has taken things to a whole new level.
“She knew from Day 1 that teams win championships, and it comes from not only individual accolades and statistics,” he said. “I’ve always respected that about her. She understands the benefits of having everyone on board and sets the example.”
What’s more impressive, though, is how Kubik balances her volleyball triumphs with the usual life of an everyday high school student. Throughout her Valley academic career, Kubik has maintained a 3.62 grade-point average. She has also volunteered locally on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Meals From the Heartland, and at youth volleyball camps.
Brad Rose, Valley’s athletics and activities director, thinks what makes Kubik so special is her leadership and a burning desire to help her teammates and others accomplish their goals.
“Her impact on our program has been felt up and down all levels of West Des Moines Community Schools,” Rose said.
How does Kubik manage all of her commitments and responsibilities? By developing and honing a skill she claims she struggled with early on.
“I definitely think as a student, I learned a lot about time management, and I don’t think I was very good at that going into high school,” she explained. “I was able to learn that skill and work hard to have all my stuff planned out so I can focus on volleyball.”
Kubik arrived to WDMCS in the midst of her eighth-grade year. During her time in the district, she said she’s recognized WDMCS as “a community of people who all care about each other.”
“I think that comes off from the teachers, our administrators, and everyone that’s in the buildings,” Kubik said. “Everyone is really supportive of each other, and I think that’s nice for such a large school district to be so involved with one another.”
Kubik will graduate from Valley in December and will start at Nebraska in January.
A Sisterly Bond Over The Years
When skimming through Valley’s roster, fans will notice there are two Kubiks listed.
Kubik’s sister, Hayden, is a freshman on this year’s team and has been a solid contributor to the Tigers’ scoring attack. She ranks second on the team with 266 kills — right behind her older sister’s team-high 454 mark.
This is the first time Madi and Hayden have performed on the same team competitively. Growing up, the pair would play against each other over their couch in the basement of the Kubik household. Even on vacations, Mom, Dad, and the four Kubik girls would try to find a sand court and get in a few matches.
“It’s been really awesome (this season) because I feel like we’ve been able to connect a lot on the volleyball court and kind of get each other in that aspect,” Madi Kubik said of playing alongside Hayden. “It’s also nice to look to her and feel comforted and supported.”
The Kubik parents are no slouches to competitive athletics, either. Renae Kubik played volleyball at Missouri State University. Brad Kubik, Madi and Hayden’s father, played football at Missouri State and later with the Kansas City Chiefs for three seasons.
“It’s cool that you have those relationships with players you go to battle with every day or that you compete with,” Brad Kubik said, “but when it’s your sister — when it’s blood — it takes it to a whole new level of what kind of relationship they have.
“They’ve grown a lot closer this year, and it’s fun to watch them compete and be successful.”
Kubik said her inspiration comes from her parents.
“They are my biggest examples of what it means to be a hard worker and what it means to be a good person, a good friend, and to be there for people,” she explained. “They’ve taught me so many lessons…. They’ve helped me become the best person I can be.”
Mikesell added how Brad and Renae Kubik seize all of the family’s moments in athletics.
“I think a lot of people overlook a process for a kid like that to get where she is. I know (Madi’s) parents well enough where they just really embrace this fun environment of playing sports and being involved and having a good time,” he said. “It’s really fun to see a family support volleyball and the sheer fun of it.
“Through (Madi and Hayden’s) upbringing, they have a great mindset of handling the adversity this sport brings.”
‘This Is About Leaving A Legacy’
Keeping the topic of adversity in mind, Valley has never won a state volleyball title and has had its chances spoiled in recent years.
Last season, the Tigers dropped a 3-0 match to Cedar Falls (the top-ranked team in 5A this season) in the finals.
Ankeny Centennial (currently the second-ranked team in 5A) was the three-time defending champ from 2014-16.
Will 2018 be Valley’s year?
“With Madi and other players who have gone through our program, the bar has been there to say, ‘We have the ability and we have the experience,'” Mikesell said. “Through Madi’s career, both in our gym and many other gyms, the weapons are there. That mindset and the skill set are there. It just comes down to that discipline and a lot of what goes on in that environment.”
Kubik admitted she does feel a sense of pressure when she takes the floor, holding herself to high standards for her teammates and coaches. But Mikesell said his senior star embraces the biggest of stages.
“This is about leaving a legacy and putting something out there that other people can learn and grow from,” Mikesell said. “That’s really the overriding cause of what we’re trying to do.”
All that’s left is this: Defeat. Conquer. Create history.
Watch: 2018 Valley Volleyball
Valley Volleyball Schedule
Class 5A, Region 5
Oct. 23: vs. Des Moines East—7 p.m. at Valley
Oct. 29: vs. winner of Johnston/Cedar Rapids Kennedy/Iowa City West—7 p.m. at Valley*
Nov. 6-9: Iowa high school state volleyball tournament—U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids*
* = barring Valley victories.
2018 Valley Volleyball Roster
- Camryn Anonson—senior
- Allison Blythe—senior
- Olivia Curry—junior
- Karsen Duve—senior
- Shea Fuller—senior
- Grace Hinkle—junior
- Hayden Kubik—freshman
- Madi Kubik—senior
- Payton Lombardi—sophomore
- Macy Schuette—senior
- Jacey Spann—junior
- Jasmine Spann—senior
- Katie Stevens—sophomore
Individual and team statistic information compiled from Quik Stats Iowa.
- October 18, 2018