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Kathi Goertzen Coug of the Year finalist: Lia Galdeira

The now-sophomore Galdeira is arguably the best player WSU has had in recent memory.

Photo Courtesy WSU Athletic Communications
Photo Courtesy WSU Athletic Communications

On the northern end of what's still an active volcano sits a piece of land a little different than what most of the world assumes it'd be. For most folks, going to the Big Island of Hawai'i means beautiful beaches, a few rounds of golf and what could be their only ever look at lava. But Kamuela looks more like the place Lia Galdeira is now than the picturesque sandy shores most people see on postcards.

Maybe the transition from the vast cow pastures of Hawai'i to the vast wheat and lentil fields of the Palouse was easier than most would think. Granted, it generally doesn't dip below freezing for weeks on end near the Tropic of Cancer but that's nothing a fleece sweatshirt can't fix.

Before Galdeira came to Pullman, she was named the Hawai'i State Player of the Year three times over (not unlike someone else who played at WSU before here), establishing her as arguably the most decorated player to ever don crimson for the women's basketball team. Before she ever set foot on the floor at Beasley Coliseum, we already had a pretty dang good idea that Galdeira was good.

I'm not sure anyone knew she was All Pac-12 Honorable Mention in her freshman season good.

Sure enough, the 71 inch tall guard took home those honors in addition to her All-Defensive team honorable mention and All-Freshman Team nod. Her resume is already longer than most collegiate basketball players ever will be but that wasn't good enough for Galdeira. She was also invited to the team trials for the U19 FIBA National Team for a tryout in May of last year and although she didn't make the team, it's a high honor.

During her freshman season, it was easier to figure out which statistical categories Galdeira didn't lead the team in. Galdeira topped the team in scoring, rebounding (as a 5'11" guard no less), steals, made three-point field goals, minutes and finished tied second in the country for scoring among freshman.