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Senior Spotlight: Alianza Darley

Gianluca Cuevas
Alianza Darley shines in academics as she received C-USA Commissioner’s academic medal.

Volleyball senior thrives at UTEP

As the volleyball season comes to an end, senior outside hitter and middle blocker Alianza Darley contemplates what her next step will be. The Robertson High School graduate is eligible to play for the upcoming 2023 season, but that has not stopped Darley from thinking about her life outside of UTEP. 

Sports run deep in Darley’s family. Her father played both football and basketball at New Mexico Highlands University, her stepfather played basketball at San Diego State University and her grandfather played college basketball and played in the National Basketball Association (NBA). 

Darley has several academic accolades from Conference USA such as All-Conference Second Team, the Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll, and received the Commissioner’s Academic Medal in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Darley’s academic success did not just sprout in college but comes from years of academic successes. 

“I mean, it’s pretty easy because I know that if I don’t do good in school, I’m not going to be able to perform on the court.” Darley said. “It’s like a healthy balance for me and it helps me.” 

The New Mexico native was recruited to play not just volleyball, but basketball as well. 

Darley mostly played basketball during high school while rapidly becoming a strong leader among her peers and teammates.

In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Robertson coach José Medina praised Darley’s leadership as a student athlete.

“She’s a good role model,” Medina said. “She leads by example, works hard every day, is good to her teammates and motivates and pumps her teammates up. She pushes them to work to be at the next level.” 

“I wouldn’t say I was like a leader in my freshman or sophomore year,” Darley said. “But I think being able to help lead this team has been one of the reasons why the program is so successful. It is because all of us have put in a lot of time into creating a great culture here.” 

Before her exemplary run with the UTEP volleyball team, Darley experienced some uncertainty about what sport to play in college.

She found herself choosing between playing basketball or volleyball, but came to a decision after prioritizing her collegiate success. 

“It was a hard decision,” Darley said. “I knew regardless of where I went or what sport I played, I wanted to succeed. With volleyball, I’ve done that. I didn’t play volleyball as much as I played basketball, so you know, I’m just glad that I got the opportunity to play.” 

With her future still in the air, Darley reminisces about her time at UTEP. She specifically remembers a moment during the 2021 National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) where the Miners fell to the University of Las Vegas (UNLV) in the semifinals.

In that match, over 2,000 fans filled Memorial Gym to watch UTEP try and punch its ticket to the 2021 NIVC Finals. 

“I remember running out after we changed into our jerseys,” Darley said. “The amount of fans and how loud (Memorial Gym) was , is a feeling that I will never forget.” 

The Miners volleyball team lost that game 3-1 in dramatic fashion. 

UNLV defeated Valparaiso University in the following round to become champions for the 2021 NVIC Championship. 

This year, the Miners qualified for the C-USA Championship as the No. 3 seed and faced the Charlotte 49ers at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Kentucky. 

There, the Miners lost to the No. 22 Rice in the semifinals in a shutout after beating  the University of Charlotte in a shout out of its own.

Looking forward, Darley is still undecided as to what to do after this years fall commencement, mirroring Darley’s uncertainty when deciding what sport to play out of high school for college. 

That is not to say the soon to be kinesiology graduate is completely clueless at the moment.

“I haven’t really thought much of it,” Darley said. “I want to become either an occupational therapist or a type of field like that. That is the plan right now, but it might change in a couple of months.” 

Statistics provided by UTEP Athletics and

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram

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About the Contributors
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
Gianluca Cuevas
Gianluca Cuevas, Photographer
Gianluca Cuevas is a staff photographer for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics. He plans to work in the automotive industry designing cars/mechanic in the F1. He also has his small photography business 365elements which he plans to continue to grow.
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Senior Spotlight: Alianza Darley