From the YMCA to Texas State, Jaliyah Bolden, senior middle blocker, has been continuously perfecting her craft on the volleyball court.
“I was in third grade and a bunch of my friends were talking about the YMCA league. It was called GBA then,” Bolden said. “They were all doing it, so I wanted to do it. I went home and told my mom. And my first season ever playing was playing in the GBA league and my mom was the coach.”
Bolden received her first scholarship sophomore year of high school from the University of Central Florida. However, she instead decided to accept a scholarship from Colorado State. After only two seasons, the athlete decided it was time to make a change.
“I wasn’t getting the playing time that I wanted there,” Bolden said. “I really loved the girls. I loved the atmosphere and the school and everything. I just didn’t get along with the coach that well. Here, it’s closer to home, but not too close to where it’s like I’m right down the street, so I like that.”
Bolden was third on the team with 113 sets played and led Texas State with 322 kills, which ranked sixth in the Sun Belt Conference.
Bolden has also been named to the 2016 North Harbour Marriott Challenge All-Tournament Team and the 2016 Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team.
The Bobcats were 21-12 in the 2016 season, but lost in the second round of the SBC tournament to Coastal Carolina University.
This year, however, Texas State beat Coastal Carolina in their lone matchup this season. Bolden said beating Coastal Carolina was a goal for her and some of the other teammates this season.
“We beat Coastal,” Bolden said. “That was a big win for us because last year they came in the conference and they destroyed us and everybody else. That was a big goal of mine and (Erin) Hoppe’s and the rest of the returners was to beat Coastal.”
The Bobcats are 18-8 this season and, before Saturday’s game against Louisiana, were on a 10-game winning streak. According to the athlete, the team’s chemistry is the only difference in comparison to other seasons.
“We get along really well and that’s the one thing that’s different between this team and any other team I have been on,” Bolden said. “We’ve gotten along in the past, but this year we can be really aggressive on the court, and we can also go in the locker room and be super goofy. We can bring that goofy to the court, but when it’s time to focus we’re really good at that as well. It’s just like how we all gel together.”
Bolden considers this the best team she has ever been a part of.
“I actually enjoy these girls. I enjoy going to practice. I enjoy being here, and this is the first year that has ever happened,” Bolden said.
One of Bolden’s main goals was to be a leader on the team, but not just any kind of leader—the kind of leader to bring the team together no matter the age difference.
“In the past, it’s been very categorized into seniors, freshmen, juniors,” Bolden said. “This year, my main goal wast o make it into more of a family atmosphere, but still leading them in the right direction for the teams that come in the future.”
Bolden has only a handful of games left in her senior season before the Sun Belt Conference Championship. However, she still has one goal left in mind.