North Texas Daily

Volleyball libero breaks Hall of Fame digs record

Volleyball libero breaks Hall of Fame digs record

Volleyball libero breaks Hall of Fame digs record
September 12
14:00 2023

In the Sept. 1 match against No. 13 Houston, graduate student and libero Aleeyah Galdeira passed up North Texas Athletic Hall of Famer Carnae Dillard with 1,440 digs to become third in career digs.  

“It was a good feeling,” Galdeira said. “But I know that I have a lot more work to do and my goal is first so just a step closer.” 

For Galdeira, she believed that just playing naturally had led to her success — breaking records wasn’t on her mind. 

“I never paid much attention to it,” Galdeira said. “It shouldn’t be my main goal, I think that’s kind of selfish of me. Just doing my job at the moment helps me get to that goal of mine, but it’s not something I’m continuously thinking about.” 

Head Coach Kristee Porter believes in a similar mindset. 

“Records are records,” Porter said. “I don’t even think [Aleeyah] focuses on that part of it, I think she just loves the sport, and whatever record she breaks, she breaks.”

But Galdeira never expected to make it into the record books or even play at a D1 level. At one point, she did not even think she would play volleyball again. 

In May of her senior year at Kamehameha High School, Galdeira had not played volleyball in two years. She had no offers and no desire to play at the collegiate level.

Then out of the blue, Galdeira’s old club coach called her to come try out with a D1 coach. That coach was the university’s former volleyball coach, Andrew Palileo, who was in Hawaii scouting players, including Galdeira. 

At first, she hesitated.

Galdeira knew she was good enough at an early point in her career to play D1, having received interest from multiple West Coast schools including her first choice, UC Berkeley. 

But in her sophomore year, Aleeyah tore her ACL. When she had informed UC Berkeley and other colleges, their interest vanished, and , to Aleeyah, so did her future. 

“Once I tore my ACL, those schools just dropped me,” Aleeyah said. “Berkeley reached out to me and once I told them […] they were like, ‘Sorry, we can’t offer you anything.” 

Initially, Aleeyah was determined to make a full recovery. She wanted to be back even faster than they expected. 

“Recovery is what, six to eight months […] in the beginning I [wanted] to make this recovery in four months,” Galdeira said. 

But the process turned out to be much more difficult than expected. 

“After I realized how slow the process was, and I still couldn’t walk after like two weeks or however long it was, I quit,” Galdeira said. 

While it had been years, Galdeira still loved volleyball.

She had played it since the age of 12 and found her true passion in the sport after transitioning from playing setter to libero at the club level. 

“When I was a setter, I always loved playing defense,” Aleeyah said. “I barely wanted to actually do my job and be the setter; it was just transitioning to my forte.” 

At the club level, Galdeira credits Club Coach Kim Yamada-Lee as the reason she fell in love with the sport.Yamada-Lee was a motivator when Galdeira doubted herself. 

“She saw my potential and continued to push me,” Aleeyah said. “She would always tell me that, ‘You can go to a D1 school and you don’t need to go to a D3 school just because you’re 5′ 4.’” 

As she played for her club, Aleeyah traveled across the country, gaining confidence from playing a variety of opponents. 

“When we [went] to the mainland, and we saw like, their whole team was taller than six feet, and knowing that we could beat those types of teams would be really fun for us,” Aleeyah said.

The ACL injury had derailed Aleeyah’s life. Playing D1 seemed like a pipedream. But she decided to attend the tryout on a whim anyway. 

Coach Palileo offered Aleeyah a two-year scholarship and Aleeyah was ready to accept it. But Aleeyah’s club coach stepped in and told her to refuse. 

He called Coach Palileo stating that Aleeyah was not coming unless she got a full ride. 

The next day, Galdeira got an offer for a four-year scholarship. The next month, she was headed to Denton, Texas. 

“It was such a different culture out here,” Galdeira said. “Not knowing anybody, not having family out here, with volleyball […] two years later, I still had to recover because one leg was way smaller than the other.” 

At the same time, Palileo was not taking it easy on Galdeira. 

“If I didn’t do the right footwork, but the pass was perfect, I’m running,” Galdeira said. “But if I did the footwork right but the pass was off, I’m running.”

At times, he would even take Galdeira’s jersey if she made mistakes or had a bad game. The worst of which came her sophomore year in a match against Oklahoma, where the opposing players landed five aces consecutively.

“After that, I just went into a two-week slump,” Galdeira said. “I was just in my head overthinking things […] that was the worst game of my career.”

Aleeyah knew where Coach Palileo was coming from and still maintains a good relationship with the former coach today. 

“I may not have understood why he was doing it at the time, as a freshman,” Galdeira said. “But I have a good relationship with him and I understood where he was coming from.” 

In Galdeira’s junior year, the university made a coaching change and hired Porter. 

Junior teammate Truli Levy said the coaching change caused her to become much closer to Galdeira.

“We were in shock and nervous and just not really knowing how to feel in the moment,” Levy said. “So at that time, we expressed everything that we were feeling towards each other. And I guess that just made us even closer.”

Galdeira said Porter’s run as the coach has given her more freedom to rely on her instincts. 

“I think Porter allows me to play me,” Galdeira said. “She’ll definitely tweak my techniques but overall allows me to trust my own instincts and just play without really having to think.” 

Porter said Galdeira has given her no reason to control her play on the court. 

“She’s easy to trust, her instincts are very good,” Porter said. “She makes great decisions, so there’s not really any need for me to provide any more structure than she already has.” 

Galdeira played out her senior year and in the end, the team ended its run to Western Kentucky University in the semi-finals. 

But, this just left Galdeira coming into this season more determined to win.

“We want a ring, we need a ring,” Galdeira said. “I think we have a lot of older players right now, especially fifth years […] our urge to win is even higher than it was last year.”

Featured Image: Mean Green Volleyball player Aleeyah Galderia celebrates her team’s set win against Stephen F. Austin at North Texas Volleyball Center on Sept. 6, 2023. Charlie Shanks

About Author

Hyunsung Na

Hyunsung Na

Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad