One of the top female athletes in USF history received an honor to solidify that argument.
Michelle Collier, a 5-foot-9 senior who recently graduated, was selected to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American third team. It was the first time a USF player has received All-American recognition.
Collier had 738 kills in 2002, posting 5.63 kills per game along with 3.42 digs.
Collier heard the news right after graduation, with her mother and family there sharing the news.
“(USF coach Nancy Mueller) called me from New Orleans, where she was (at) the Final Four,” Collier said. “She said, ‘You are an All-American,’ and I said, ‘No way.’ It was pretty cool.”
Collier left USF as the all-time Conference USA career kills leader with 2,792.
“I think it’s awesome,” Mueller said. “A player like that comes along once in a coaching career.
“I was very fortunate to have her when I was establishing myself.”
With Collier’s impressive statistics, Mueller feels had it not been for the Bulls’ seeding in the NCAA Tournament, Collier could possibly have had a higher honor.
USF was matched against the No. 5 seeded Gators, losing 3-1, in the second round of the tournament after winning the C-USA Championship.
“The kid deserves it,” Mueller said. “If we had been given a better seed than going up against Florida, I think she would have had higher honors.”
Collier’s award-winning play also added to the program by helping to bring Mueller her second Midwest All-Region Coach of the Year award.
After receiving her first regional award in 2000, Mueller led the squad this year to its second 30-win season in school history.
“I’m very grateful for the recognition, but I think it means just as much when our athletes are recognized,” Mueller said. “I think it means a statement of what our program has done.”
Collier and 2002 C-USA Setter of the Year Ale Domingos were also named to the Midwest All-Region team.
“I think she is one of the best setters in the country, so she deserves to be recognized,” Collier said of Domingos.
Domingos had 1,753 assists — 13.28 per game — during her senior season.
“That’s like losing a quarterback,” Mueller said. “Ale got it done for this program. She stepped up to the plate when she needed to.”
Bryan Fazio covers USF volleyball and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org