By Ray Hamill — Former Del Norte standout Kaleya Sanchez has wasted no time settling into life at Sierra College, where she has had an immediate impact on a Wolverines volleyball team in contention for one of the toughest conferences in the state.
With four games remaining in the regular season, the Sierra women are 10-2 in the Big 8, just half a game out of first place and right in the thick of a championship chase.
And Sanchez has had as big a say in that title challenge as anyone.
The 2019 Del Norte graduate, who was a Big 5 MVP in both volleyball and basketball last year, leads the conference in kills with 288.
That’s impressive on its own, but especially so when you consider the Big 8 features four of the top eight teams in NorCal.
More importantly, Sanchez appears to be settling into college life off the court as well.
“She’s doing fantastic,” Sierra head coach Vera Nelson said. “She’s fun, she’s kind, and she’s family oriented, which is something we look for. She’s a team player all the way. She loves the game, and loves to compete, and that’s a great combination.
“The sky’s the limit for Kaleya.”
The coach admits that the former Del Norte Warrior still has things to learn about the game, as with any freshman, but believes that once she starts to understand the game at a higher level, she has the athletic ability and mindset to go far.
“She’s a hard worker, and she’s still working on a lot of things,” Nelson said. “She was a big fish in a small pond, and now she’s in the big girls’ pond, and she’s adjusting to that.”
Sanchez also is second on her team with 252 digs this season, and posted a season-high 21 kills in a win over De Anza back in September.
On Friday, she had eight kills and nine digs in a straight sets win over Diablo Valley.
The Wolverines close out the season with back-to-back games against American River and San Joaquin Delta, each of whom is also in contention for the conference championship.
“We’ve won it three years in a row and we’d love to make it four,” Nelson said.