Another One Bites the Dust

If Michelle Collier keeps up at this pace, she won’t have any records to break next season.

Having already eclipsed Nikki Richt for the USF record for kills in a career Sept. 18 vs. Florida State, the junior outside hitter became Conference USA’s all-time leader Oct. 7 with a 36 kill outing.

“Everything happens because of the team,” the humble Collier said of her accomplishments. “Even if I’m getting all the kills, there’s a lot of people behind (the success) who should get recognized.”

In addition to being the conference and school’s career kills leader, Collier ranks fifth on the USF career digs chart with 1,178. Averaging nearly three digs per game this season, Collier should pass Michelle Grubka, Belinda Spivey and Haylee Red for second place by next week. Sunday, in a loss to Alabama, Collier’s two aces gave her 166 for her career to place the native of Recife, Brazil fourth in USF history, one ahead of Grubka.

“I think it shows how good this program is and how far it can go,” Collier said of her numbers. “(These records mean) all the hard work paid off.”

The fifth-game heartbreaking loss to the then-No. 23 Cardinals may have been bittersweet for the Bulls (12-7, 6-3), but Collier’s 36 kills propelled her past Cincinnati’s Becky Tenkman to become the new C-USA leader. Tenkman racked up 1,843 kills from 1995-98 for the Bearcats.

After her performance against Louisville, Collier passed Tenkman by 29 and added 56 kills in the subsequent four matches to give her 1,928 in her career.

It has been a bad month for Tenkman, as DePaul’s Stephanie Bishop finished this weekend with 1,856 kills to move Tenkman back to third place.

USF coach Nancy Mueller suggested that her superstar is oblivious to the pressure that accompanies such lofty records.

“I don’t think she even thinks about (records),” Mueller said. “She could honestly care less about being the kills leader. She plays for the team and the love of the sport.

“She’s very humble about her success and she would give it all up for this team to win conference. That’s the way she is.”

Even with Collier’s record-breaking success, the Bulls find themselves in fifth place in C-USA, 2 1/2 games back of Cincinnati. The Bearcats are 10-1 in the conference and have won 11 straight.

“I think it’s a realistic goal, as far as us taking care of our own business,” Mueller said of the Bulls’ chances of winning C-USA. “We’re in control of our own destiny. It’s on our shoulders.”

After splitting their matches this weekend with UAB and Alabama, the Bulls will look to break out with a strong performance against UCF today, before C-USA foes TCU and Houston arrive this weekend.

“We’ve had some chances that would have made it easier for us (to win conference),” Collier said. “But we like to fight and we never give up.”

  • Anthony Gagliano covers volleyball and can be reached at