If records are made to be broken, as the saying goes, then Michelle Collier sure doesn’t want to waste any time. With 22 kills against Florida State Sept. 18, the junior passed Nikki Richt to become the all-time leader in that category at USF. In four matches since, Collier has collected an additional 84 kills to currently give her 1,812 kills in a little more than 2 1/2 years. Collier and the Bulls (8-4, 2-1 in Conference USA) will be looking to extend that mark tonight when they take on Alabama-Birmingham (6-6, 0-4).
“I can’t set the ball to myself, so my teammates really helped me get this,” Collier said. “It does seem like the hard work has paid off. I never set a goal to break any records.”
UAB has lost five straight, the last four to conference foes Marquette, DePaul, Tulane and Memphis. In those four matches, the Blazers have won just one game. This year has been an improvement as compared to a year ago, when UAB won just six matches all season, none in C-USA play.
“After we had the last game in our hands, we know that every team has a shot to knock you off,” Collier said. “This time, we’ll have the crowd at our backs and we won’t let them back.”
In her career, Richt tallied 1,726 kills from 1985-89, with a redshirt year in 1988. Collier is no stranger to redshirts herself. She played four matches in the 1999 season before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in the Bulls’ fifth match against Nebraska.
“I don’t think I ever had that thought (that I couldn’t play at this level again) in my mind,” Collier said. “I knew it would be difficult (to come back), and I knew that great athletes come back from it. But with the help of my teammates, I made it back.”
Collier is also hot on Richt’s trail in two other categories. With 123 digs in 12 matches this season, Collier has 1,110 digs in her career. That number places her fifth on the USF career list, 352 behind Richt’s school mark in that category. Collier’s 21 aces this year brings her career total to 153. She’s currently in sixth place just 73 behind Richt for second in that statistic. Belinda Spivey is USF’s leader in career aces with 373.
“She’s unbelievable,” USF coach Nancy Mueller said of Collier. “Setting a record like that doesn’t happen everyday, especially so young. Eventually, that will just be another one in a long list.”
The list of numbers doesn’t stop there either. Collier has the four highest single-game totals in kills and attempts. Last year, Collier set the single-season records for kills and attempts. Collier’s kills per game average in her two full seasons, 1998 and 2000, are the two highest in USF history.
“I love to play and I give all I can for my teammates,” Collier said. “I don’t always have 30-kill matches, but when I do, they’re right there supporting me. We aim high, and there’s no limits on this team.”