Sports Spotlight: Kaley Mathews sets up her future with commitment to UCLA

Jordan Kimball

As a four-year varsity athlete, Kaley Mathews has lifted Redwood volleyball to a new level. With her height and athleticism, Mathews has always had an advantage over others on the court, but the work she puts in on her own time is what really makes her a stand-out player.
Mathews began playing volleyball at ten years old, thanks to her sister’s interest. They started with indoor volleyball, practicing as often as they could. When Mathews turned 11, she played beach volleyball for the first time, once again with her sister. Mathews was always a big fan of the beach, and getting to play there made her fall in love with the sport.
As Mathews grew up, she continued to play volleyball and began to thrive with her fiery spirit and competitiveness. Even though this trait could help her, it sometimes hurt her as well, forcing Mathews to learn how to use her emotions to her benefit.

Spiking the ball, Kaley Mathews wins a point for her team in an important match. (Photo courtesy of southlakesportspics)

“I give a lot of credit to [my coaches]. They changed me from an angry player to a motivated player,” Mathews said. “I am now able to channel that spirit and turn it into determination.”
With her intensity, Mathews could lead her teammates by motivating and encouraging them whenever possible. Mathews’ longtime teammate and friend, Emma McDermott, acknowledged how this has helped elevate Redwood to the next level.
“[Mathews] puts a lot out on the court. She emotionally connects to the game and gives it her all and when others see that, it motivates them to do the same,” McDermott said.
Mathews has had some exciting experiences throughout her young volleyball career, such as being on the national team for beach volleyball and winning the national championship. With these moments, Mathews has been able to see that hard work and dedication pay off.
“Being a member of the national team was one of my best experiences. I was able to meet other girls from all across the country, and we all shared the same goal and determination to succeed,” Mathews said.
In addition to beach volleyball, Mathews also helped Redwood capture the 2021 state championship for indoor volleyball. She continued her phenomenal high school career in her senior season and led the team in many categories, such as serving aces, hitting percentage and assists. With Mathews being a setter, it is extremely important that she forms a connection with the hitters. Outside hitter McDermott believes that their relationship with each other has led to their success throughout the years.
“The trust that I have for her is excellent. Even just seeing her walk down the halls and [thinking] ‘that’s my teammate, and we have so many memories together’ has made me have a better connection with her not only off the court, but on it as well,” McDermott said.
Over time, Mathews has worked extremely hard to get to where she is now, and colleges instantly reached out to her once the commitment process began, leaving her with tough decisions. After day one of recruiting, Mathews had seven full-ride offers, but all for indoor volleyball.

Posing with their medals and banner, Kaley Mathews and her teammate celebrate their national championship victory. (Photo courtesy of southlakesportspics)

“I checked my emails and saw many indoor volleyball offers when recruitment started. I wasn’t upset but was still hoping for a beach volleyball offer somewhere in Southern California,” Mathews said.
As Mathews dug deeper and kept persisting in beach volleyball, she finally got an offer from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) beach volleyball program, one of the country’s best teams.
“It was a dream come true to receive that offer,” Mathews said. “It felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders and that my hard work had paid off.”
Mathews will leave Redwood with an everlasting impact as she continues her volleyball career at UCLA, but what she has accomplished will not be forgotten by her friends and teammates.
“She is a great leader, very supportive and a great person to be around. Without her, [Redwood volleyball] would be nowhere near where they are now,” McDermott said. “She shows respect, a love for the game and competitiveness, which will translate into the future of Redwood volleyball for years to come.”