WEST LIBERTY — Macy Daufeldt went out swinging.
While her West Liberty High School volleyball team finished 39-5 and took second-place at the Class 3A state tournament, the senior outside hitter ended her career in a record-setting blaze.
The 2021 Muscatine Journal player of the year, Daufeldt put forth a Herculean effort at state, going for an incredible 91 kills over the dozen sets the Comets played on the Alliant Energy PowerHouse floor.
Against Mount Vernon, the first of those matches, Daufeldt set a 3A record for kills in a state tournament contest with 33. The next, the penultimate of her career and five-set semifinal thriller against Davenport Assumption, she bested her own mark with 37.
This season, Daufeldt, who committed to Drake as a freshman and sealed the years of wait a couple weeks ago with an official signature, had few rivals individually.
Total numbers? Check. Daufeldt led the state (all classes) in kills with 693.
Efficiency? She had that in spades. Her six kills per set was also a state best and her .440 efficiency mark was fourth-best among all Iowa preps.
And the three-time all-stater has proven the consistency over time to keep improving her overall game, as well, going for 357 digs (and over 1,000 for her career), 42 blocks and 25 aces on an 89% serve success rate while chipping in 32 assists in 2021.
Daufeldt also displayed durability, playing virtually every set of every West Liberty match during her four-year career as the Comets racked up a 122-31 record over that span while reaching state twice as she went for a school-record 1,819 career kills.
It was all on display for the 2021 season, the culminating campaign for a player who holds herself to a standard that went beyond the numbers produced. Daufeldt was recognized as the top player in 3A and co-player of the year for the state, which she shared with Dike-New Hartford's Payton Petersen (2A).
But yet, the power, vertical and torque of a Daufeldt kill were equaled, perhaps even one-upped, by another of her traits.
“One of the main memories of Macy we have (going forward) is how she treated the underclassmen,” assistant coach Brittney Boffeli said. “She was always available for advice and to support them. She cared more about the team's success than her own. She was a true leader that left her mark on our program.”
Head coach Ruben Galvan recognizes that in Daufeldt as well.
“She’ll give credit to her teammates before she takes credit herself,” Galvan said. “She cares about others’ success and really helped the (underclassmen) grow this season.”
Galvan even surmises that, as West Liberty went into the season with only two returning starters besides Daufeldt in setter Brooklyn Buysse and libero Monica Morales, that the team felt more free this season on the court. It may have been from the team’s resistance to big goals, even as the Comets ended up the runner-up in 3A behind the effort of Daufeldt, Buysse and Morales, all of whom were all-state this season.
“We really didn’t expect to reach state at the beginning of the season,” Galvan said. “We focused on more individual goals and each player’s approach to getting better. That really took some of the pressure off. … We never felt any pressure. And Macy took charge with her leadership.”
Daufeldt has also been in a pretty unique position, having locked up a Division I offer so quickly. Rare is a prep athlete of such caliber who spends as little time as Daufeldt in the recruiting pipeline.
Drake was a natural fit and allowed the Comets' star to lean even more heavily into her team-first mindset.
"I really like the Drake coaching staff," Daufeldt said. "It's a smaller school, and their academics are really great. But I know people going there from the past, and none of them have said they would change anything. I liked the feel of being there.
"My gut told me I was going to like it there and I went with it ... (and because of that) a lot of stress has been taken off of my shoulders for the last three or four years. If I went somewhere else, I feel like I wouldn't get what I want to get out of it."
The love from the game was there from the beginning.
“It’s always been there, I grew up watching my sister (Hailey) and going to her (club team) tournaments, then her high school games,” Daufeldt said. “And I was like, ‘I want to do that.’”
And the talent was evident to those who watched.
“I had some coaches tell me when I was like 12 or 13 that I could do big things if I worked hard enough,” the record-setting Comet said. “Whether it was through club or school, they helped me get to where I am. It was kinda other people pushing me that made me like, 'Okay, I’ll give it a shot,' and this is where I ended up."
Daufeldt may not have recognized it as early.
"I'm not a big player, I'm kinda small for my position," the 6-foot Daufeldt said. "And I've been told in the past that I'm not a back row player, necessarily. ... But I've always been able to jump pretty high. Even though I was tall, my dad (Matt) would always tell me, 'You have to jump,' and I built muscle memory, then with (weight lifting), I increased my vertical and overall strength.
"I eventually kinda figured out, like, 'Wow, when I jump, I can be up here for a little bit.' I heard a commentator this year at state say 'She kinda hangs in the air for a second and then swings,' not like in one, fluid motion. I never noticed that before. I knew that I had time to look around for a split second, but I didn't know it looked like I wasn't going to swing until the last possible second."
What really seemed to set off the competitive rage inside Daufeldt, however, came from a select few points early on in her career that didn’t result in a kill where the ball ricocheted off a high school gym ceiling fan after overpowering the opponent.
“Up through her sophomore year, we subbed her out once in a while, but now she excels on defense (and) has grown tremendously there and with her serve.” Galvan said.
“I don’t like sitting on the bench,” said Daufeldt, who also owns a state long jump title and has been all-state in basketball. “I’m a very competitive person, whether it’s a card game or sports, or in school, I like to do as well as I possibly can.
"I use my competitiveness. I think it just fuels me. It's how I score in volleyball, it's what I use to beat everybody up and down the floor in basketball and what I use in track.
"At the start of (volleyball this season), we didn't know what we had. We were really young and really, really short. But I wanted to see where it went and I think we all realized what we could be."