Temple Volleyball’s Falanika Danielson is a team player, leading the team in digs with 370 while completing 94.7 percent of her receptions. While her back-line position does not produce the highlight-reel kills some of her teammates get, Temple may not have reached 10 wins without their 107 sets-played libero holding down the defense.
Only a sophomore, Danielson has been an important piece for the back row of Temple’s defense, playing as the libero in 26 out of 27 matches so far this season. She is also third on the team in service aces with 19, only three behind outside hitter Jelena Prolic, who has 22 service aces, and eight behind sophomore setter Patrycja Zielinska who has 27 so far this season.
Danielson reached eight kills in a match against East Carolina University (10-18, 5-11 The American) on Oct. 5, becoming the first person since defensive setter and libero Alyssa Drachslin in 2014 to achieve the milestone of 1,000 career digs. Her efforts were honored with a commemorative volleyball at Temple’s match against the University of Cincinnati (8-18, 6-10 The American) on Oct. 7.
“Me being able to reach the 1,000 digs is all of the support behind me, the coaching staff, and then on top of that, just being able to play and do what I can do and control what I can control,” Danielson said.
Danielson was the 2020 American Athletic Conference libero of the year and ranked 27th in the nation with 5.27 digs per set during her freshman season. She also tallied 73 assists and 21 service aces on the year. After playing as an outside hitter in high school, she is learning how to perform at her position through daily reps in practice.
“It’s been a great experience learning the new position in college and having great teammates behind me as well,” Danielson said.
Former Temple volleyball player Sun Ying-Ling currently holds the record for total digs in a career with 1,716, a milestone Danielson is on her way to passing by her senior year.
“She just wants to win,” said coach Linda Hampton-Keith. “You can’t ask for a better teammate.”
Danielson has many recognizable performances, tallying more than 20 digs four times this season.
“When I have those over 20 dig games I feel like that means I’m fully locked in,” Danielson said. “I stop thinking about the scores, stop thinking about the stats, just play.”
With a new coach and system in place this season, Danielson has thrived as a consistent starter through her role as the main defensive specialist. She is tasked with directing the team while on the floor, and has become a key member of the team and Temple volleyball’s upbeat personality this season, Hampton-Keith said.
Danielson consistently makes her teammates smile and is a positive source of energy for the squad, Hampton-Keith said. Her talent on the floor creates another reason for her teammates to listen to and respect her.
Danielson’s poise and leadership at the libero position puts her well on her way to becoming a force in the American Athletic Conference.
“She’s great for the team,” Prolic said. “And she’s a leader.”
The Owls play their final sets of conference opponents, beginning with the University of South Florida (9-17, 3-11 The American) on Friday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.