volleyball

Former Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs chases TCU’s quarterback Traevon Boykin in the team’s battle against the Horned Frogs last Thanksgiving. Diggs and the Longhorns lost the game and finished their season with a 6–7 record.
Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Friday marks the final day of classes for those who are graduating in just a few weeks. Since arriving on the 40 Acres as freshmen in August 2011, the Class of 2015 has seen mixed results for Texas Athletics.

Longhorn Network launched a mere two days after the Class of 2015 began school. The tenures of former football coach Mack Brown and former basketball coach Rick Barnes came to a close. 

Through it all, there were some triumphs but plenty of struggles. Here are some numbers, dates and stats that define the Class of 2015’s time at the University of Texas.

3: The number of Division I national titles. In the summer of 2012, Texas men’s golf defeated Alabama 3–2 to win the program’s first title since 1972. That fall, volleyball won its first national championship since 1988 by defeating the Oregon Ducks. In March, men’s swimming and diving won its first national title since 2010 — its 11th total.

169: Losses by the major three men’s sports. Baseball, football and basketball have amassed 169 combined losses over the past four seasons, the most since the 171 total losses endured by the class of 2001. If the baseball team drops five more games, the Class of 2015 will be the
losingest senior class in school history.

21: Losses by Texas football. The Longhorns gave up 21 losses from 2011–2014, tying it with 2010–2013 and 1988–1991 for the most losses over a four-season span since 1986-1989, when the Longhorns dropped 24 games.

58.33%: Men’s basketball’s winning percentage. Texas has had its lowest win percentage over a four-season span since it only won 58.08 percent of its games from 1995–1999. Texas’ 57 losses over this time were the most the program had recorded in four seasons since the Longhorns dropped 63 games from 1983–1987.

2004: The last time the women’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend until this year. The No. 5-seeded Texas women knocked off No. 4-seeded Cal 73–70 in Berkeley to advance to the Sweet 16, but the Longhorns fell to the eventual champion, No. 1-seeded Connecticut Huskies, 105–54 in the Sweet 16. This was the first time making it that far since 2004.

58.26%: Baseball’s winning percentage. Texas had its lowest winning percentage since winning 57.09 percent of its games from 1998–2001. Barring winning the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Texas baseball will miss the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the Class of 2015’s four seasons
in Austin.

2013: The year softball finished the season ranked No. 3 in the country. The No. 3 ranking in 2013 was Texas’ best final ranking in program history. This also marked the team’s first appearance in the Women’s College World Series since 2006.

4: Big 12 Conference titles for volleyball. The Longhorns went 61–3 in conference play and did not lose more than one conference match in a season.

0: The number of double-digit win seasons by football, single-digit loss seasons by men’s basketball or 50 plus-win seasons by baseball. The last University of Texas class to witness none of the three feats while enrolled in school was the class of 1969.

Lewis Hall, educational administration graduate student, won a national championship with the UT men’s club volleyball team. Hall says playing volleyball helped him cope during rough times and was his way of honoring his mother.
Photo Credit: Thalia Juarez | Daily Texan Staff

Lewis Hall stood in Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Missouri, next to the court on which he would play in the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation Men’s Division III Bronze Bracket championship game. 

Hall took out his phone, opened Snapchat and took a picture of court No. 9, his late mother’s favorite number. He captioned the photo, “Playing on Mom’s favorite number.” Glancing down at his mother’s pink water bottle, which he used all weekend, he soaked in the moment.

Last year, Hall, now a 27-year-old educational administration graduate student, was unable to play in the NCVF Championships because his mother had been diagnosed with cancer. She moved to Austin so he could take care of her, but this past February, Hall’s mother died. Two months later, he found himself in Kansas City with a chance to play for a national championship. 

“If you didn’t know what he was going through, you wouldn’t be able to tell by his outer personality,” said biomedical engineering freshman Zach Murray, one of Hall’s teammates. “It takes a strong person to push through such adversity, and Lewis is definitely that person.”

Hall and his mother were extremely close. Despite her illness, she encouraged him to continue playing, and that same encouragement allowed him to gather the strength to continue playing after her death.

“I know she would’ve been really proud,” Hall said. “I knew that [playing volleyball] was my way of fighting for her.”

Texas ended up defeating Michigan in the title game, winning the first game 25–12 and the second game 25–18. Hall was able to honor his mother by claiming a national championship, a culmination of a season Hall used as a coping mechanism ever since his mother’s death.

“It was an outlet for me to be able to play volleyball,” Hall said. “It was a good stress reliever and [gave] me peace of mind with the tough times we were dealing with.”

Hall began playing volleyball as a freshman at Quartz Hill High School in California. He simply had an interest in picking up a sport, and he had multiple friends trying out for the team. Hall went on to found a club volleyball team as an undergrad at California State University-Monterey Bay before playing on the club team as a graduate student at Texas.  

Once he completes his graduate degree in May, Hall plans to look for an opening at UT. He would be open to the idea of becoming an assistant coach for the club volleyball team and giving back to the program that gave him so much. 

“Being a part of something that really connects you to a campus and is bigger than yourself — I think those things are priceless,” Hall said. 

Gregory Gym to become home venue for Austin Aces during 2015 season

Gregory Gymnasium has primarily played host to basketball and volleyball, but this summer it will add indoor tennis to the list.

The Austin Aces, out of Mylan World TeamTennis, announced Monday that it would play its seven home matches in Gregory Gym after playing at the Cedar Park Center last year.

“We are thrilled to have been able to find a downtown home in Gregory Gym on the UT campus as the Aces work to become Austin’s premier professional sports brand and the must-attend sporting event each summer,” Aces owner Lorne Abony said in a press release.

Abony said that getting a downtown venue was something they found while evaluating the team over the offseason both on and off the court.

“From feedback we received and the analysis that was done by our front office, we felt that a relocation to a venue located closer to the city center would be in our team’s best interest,” Albony said.

While Gregory seats 4,000 people for volleyball, the Aces said that capacity for tennis matches will be over 3,500 along with VIP tables and courtside seating.

The Aces went 6-8 in its inaugural season last year, finishing third in the Western Conference. Austin is led by former world No. 1 Andy Roddick, who also resides in the area. The roster also includes two former NCAA champions as well as the second-ranked Russian on the ATP Tour, Teymur Gabashvili.  The team is coached by nine-time Grand Slam doubles champion Rick Leach.

The Aces open up their 2015 season July 13 on the road at the Boston Lobsters and will play their first home match on July 16 against the California Dream.

Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman battles against Zhejiang, a Chinese club team. Eckerman and the Longhorns outlasted their opponent through five sets to win their second straight match.

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

As the volleyball season enters its final month of regular season play, Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott has been searching for opportunities to replicate the feel of the NCAA tournament.

This season, Elliott has matched his team against ranked opponents No. 8 Florida and No. 14 Nebraska and has been in tough environments during Big 12 play.

“I love [being in tough environments],” Elliott said. “We need to be as uncomfortable as possible when we go to these environments because it’s going to help us come NCAA tournament time.”

Although the Longhorns have already been in challenging environments, Elliott wanted more opportunities to test the team in order to prepare them for
post-season play.

The No. 5 Longhorns (15-1, 7-1 Big 12) got that opportunity to simulate tournament play when they took on Chinese club team Zhejiang in two exhibition games, giving Texas an opportunity to rotate more players in and face a challenge.

In game one, despite missing five players because of suspensions, Texas had an easy time getting past Zhejiang, but the second game provided a much more difficult challenge.

“We told the team that we thought [Zhejiang] would play better [Tuesday], and we told them they would control the ball better,” Elliott said. “They are a good volleyball team. They were mixing up their tips and rolls, and they made us change a lot in our defense.”

Zhejiang pushed the Longhorns to five sets, but, in the end, Texas came out with a victory.

With the two games against Zhejiang in the books, Elliott said that the games provided an ample challenge.

“It is good to go for a routine and go through the lineup again and watch them,” Elliott said. “I can’t duplicate 18-16 game-five situations. [These games were] good for our ability to see where we are conditioning-wise and where we are doing a good job … That’s what makes it fun — that is what volleyball is all about. Let’s enjoy this and execute to win.”

These games also allowed the team to regroup after suffering an upset loss to Oklahoma. Against the Sooners, Texas committed 15 attack errors, 14 service errors and two blocking errors. Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman said the second game against Zhejiang reminded the team that if they stick together, they can accomplish their goals this season.

“The game versus Oklahoma left a bad taste in our mouths,” Eckerman said. “We just needed this to kind of help us know that whatever may be out there, that we can compete. It was a big motivation for us to get back to playing Texas volleyball.”

Texas welcomed Chinese club team Zhejiang in a meet and greet with the Texas men’s basketball team Monday.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

At first glance, the members of Zhejiang volleyball team from China look like any other tourists in Austin. They took pictures of the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, ate barbecue and left with bags of gifts.

While it might seem like a vacation, it’s a little bit more for Zhejiang.

The defending champion of China’s national volleyball league is in Texas to compete against what it considers to be the best collegiate team in the U.S.

“We have been in the States for almost a week and have been playing with a couple of teams already, but we know that this team is the strongest team we’re going to play,” Zhejiang head coach Wu Sheng said through a translator.

Zhejiang and Texas, perennial contender on the collegiate stage, square off twice this week, with the last match tonight at 7 p.m. Zhejiang has already faced off against Texas Tech, winning the match in Lubbock in five sets and swept TCU on Friday night.

This, however, will be by far its toughest test in the States. In addition to facing a team ranked in the top five, Zhejiang will have to deal with the Gregory Gym environment. Up until Saturday, the Longhorns had a 34-match win streak at home, and the advantage Texas enjoys has made it tough for it to schedule tough opponents at home, which head coach Jerritt Elliott said is a reason they scheduled a matchup with Zhejiang.

But Zhejiang is no stranger to difficult environments. Sheng said they’ve faced similar tests back in China.

“It really just depends on how our players adjust to the environment,” Sheng said.

The matches between Zhejiang and Texas go past simple volleyball matches. They play into men’s athletic director Steve Patterson’s goal to grow the Texas brand, especially in China. The Texas men’s basketball team, which had a meet and greet and lunch with the Chinese volleyball team Monday, will open the 2015-2016 season against the Washington Huskies in China.

Although former athletics director DeLoss Dodds scheduled the match against Zhejiang, Patterson said these matches will get the student athletes learning about China and its cultures.

“It’s a great educational opportunity for all of your student athletes, whether you’re entertaining a foreign team here or taking a team to play in China,” Patterson said. “That’s really the key we’re working towards.”

The Longhorns are no strangers to international play. Texas has travelled twice to Europe to play top club and national teams, and many of the players play professionally overseas after graduation.

“We’re really excited when the opportunity presents itself on our campus to give the international flavor to our fans,” women’s athletic director Chris
Plonsky said.

And with sports expanding internationally, Plonsky said she doesn’t think this is the end of it, either.

“You hear about the NFL maybe putting a team in London,” Plonsky said. “Sports is global, and sports is universal, and I think that applies to college sports as well.”

But aside from the branding and growth of sports on the international level, once they hit the court, Sheng said he has one goal for his players.

“Our goal is to have all of our players fully at their best,” Sheng said.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

After the volleyball team won a record 34th straight home game against TCU on Wednesday, the streak was snapped as Oklahoma swept No. 2 Texas (26-24, 26-24, 26-24) on Saturday.

The Longhorns came out strong but never managed to find consistency in front of a record-setting crowd of 4,402. While the Sooners gave Texas trouble throughout the game, the Longhorns’ own errors hurt them the most, as they committed 15 attack errors, 14 service errors and two blocking errors.

“I thought we did fine,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “[But] we missed seven serves in game one, and that kind of became a stress level for us and carried over to all parts of the game. We were never able to get the composure that we needed, and we were on our heels from that point on.”

In the opening set, Texas had its foot on the gas as senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman opened the game with three kills, and the Longhorns had a 10-5 lead. But, the errors began to mount, and Texas lost its rhythm. The Sooners fought their way back into the game and tied the set at 19. 

The match went back and forth, but Oklahoma got the best of Texas and claimed the set, 26-24. The Longhorns committed seven service errors, three attack errors and one blocking error in the first set.

After losing its first set in Gregory Gym this season, Texas started the second set on a 5-1 run, but the Sooners kept it close and eventually tied the set at 11. Both teams battled in the middle of the set, exchanging the lead seven times with nine ties. But, once again, Oklahoma bettered Texas and put the Longhorns down 0-2.

With a two-game lead, Oklahoma started off the third set as the aggressor and opened with a 5-2 lead. Texas didn’t give in and was able to tie the match at 10 thanks to three kills by junior middle blocker Molly McCage. But the 0-2 deficit was too much to overcome. Oklahoma won the set, 26-24.

The upset loss to Oklahoma ended Texas’ 34-match regular season winning streak, 34-match home winning streak and 44-match Big 12 home winning streak, all three of which were program records. The loss also marked the first time the Longhorns were swept at home since losing to then-No. 5 Illinois on Sept. 3, 2010 — a 63-match streak.

“[This is] a wake-up call,” sophomore setter Chloe Collins said. “Like [Elliott] says, we need perspective that every team is going to play their best, and we need to be ready. As a team, we just need to get back in practice and prepare.”

Elliott said the team can still accomplish its goals despite the loss.

“We have to get back and get better,” Elliott said. “It’s a long season and at the end of the day, we still have an opportunity to win the conference, and that’s what our first goal is. We have to get back to the drawing board.”

Texas returns to action in two exhibition games against Chinese club team Zhejiang on Monday and Tuesday, both at 7 p.m. at Gregory Gym.

Texas volleyball would set the record for longest home win streak in program history with a victory Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

It’s no secret that Texas has a tremendous home-court advantage in Gregory Gym.

Between all of the hard surfaces and configurations, including an up-close and personal student section, Gregory Gym boasts one of the best environments for volleyball in the country.

“It’s an amazing gym,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “The setup of it has been fantastic.”

Now, the Longhorns have a chance to do what no other Longhorn team has done in Gregory Gym — win 34 straight games.

With a win Wednesday night against TCU, Texas would surpass the 2011-2012 Longhorn team for the longest home-win streak in program history. But, despite the allure of such an achievement, Elliott said the team isn’t going to talk too much about it before the match.

“There might be a slight mention, but it’s not that important to us,” Elliott said.

Gregory Gym hasn’t always played home to volleyball. While the gym, along with the Frank Erwin Center, hosted the team from the program’s start in 1990, the team moved to the Recreational Sports Center and remained there until the end of the 1997 season. Beginning in 1998, the Longhorns moved back to Gregory permanently and have been dominant since, posting a .863 winning percentage at home.

In the past 11 seasons, the Longhorns have been almost unbeatable at home. In that span, Texas has gone nearly undefeated in its home schedule, including this season’s 6-0 streak, and posted a .944 winning percentage.

Elliott said, while this year’s team isn’t focused on the record, they do want to recognize the players who helped start it.

“It’s more important to recognize the players that came before us that helped us create this streak,” Elliott said.

The configuration of Gregory Gym makes it a difficult place for opponents to play. It’s almost completely comprised of hard surfaces, leaving nothing — other than the championship banners — to soak up any of the sound. That, coupled with the fans sitting almost on top of the court, can make the gym loud for opposing teams.

Elliott said a growing fan base has also helped with the advantage.

“Our players feed off of that,” Elliott said. “I think it’s an environment that should be sold out on a nightly basis. We know the students are coming out as often as possible.”

Opponents have also noticed the difficulties of playing at Gregory. Elliott said it has been difficult for Texas to schedule opponents in Austin, leading the Longhorns to schedule two matches next week against Zhejiang New Century Tourism, which won the top Chinese women’s volleyball league
in spring.

“Everyone is so concerned about RPI,” Elliott said. “The conferences are so big that a lot of teams need to get ‘W’s so they can have a record to make the NCAA tournament.”

TCU comes into the match looking for its first ever win against Texas. The Longhorns swept the past two matches against the Horned Frogs and have won all seven previous meetings against them since TCU joined the Big 12 Conference in 2012.

Texas will continue its home conference schedule Saturday against Oklahoma at 5 p.m. 

Sophomore outside hitter Amy Neal still feels the Nebraska rivalry exists, even after Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten. For the third time in two years, the rivals will meet Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Texas expected a tough battle against former Big 12 volleyball rival Nebraska over the weekend, and it certainly got one.

The Longhorns needed five sets Saturday for the first time this season to pull out a 3-2 win over Nebraska. Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman, Amy Neal, junior libero and outside hitter, and Khat Bell, senior middle blocker and outside hitter, all recorded double-digit kills.

“We had a hard time finding our rhythm today,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “Nebraska played well, but we just couldn’t get our offensive system going, and we made a lot of errors that we haven’t been making.”

The battle started early on in the first set of the match for Texas. Neither side led by more than two points, with 13 ties throughout the set. However, Texas managed to close the set out 25-23 on a 5-2 run behind two kills each from Eckerman and Neal.

“We were fortunate to pull out game number one or else this could have been a different match,” Elliott said.

Momentum from the first set victory faded quickly in the second set. The Cornhuskers took an early 12-7 lead and never looked back. Although the Longhorns tied the set at 17 on a 6-2 run eventually, they were outscored 8-4 the rest of the set and fell 25-21.

The environment in Lincoln, stands packed with 8,312 fans, shook some of the new players on the court, especially early in the match.

“They couldn’t settle down,” Elliott said. “We challenged them pretty strongly in the locker room between games two and three, and I felt like we slowly got better as the match went on.”

Texas came out of the intermission break much stronger than it had been in the second set, taking a 9-6 lead before Nebraska fought back to a slim 13-11 go-ahead. However, unlike the second set, the Longhorns didn’t let the Cornhuskers’ run take over the match. Instead, they executed a 7-1 run to win the set 25-19.

In the fourth set, Texas found itself in a favorable position to close out the match, leading 14-11. But when Nebraska pulled off a 9-2 run, including seven straight points, to take a 20-15 lead, the Longhorns couldn’t rebound. Eckerman’s three kills elevated the Longhorns to a 23-22 lead, but a late 3-0 run gave the set to the Cornhuskers.

In contrast to the first four sets, Texas dominated the fifth set much more smoothly. The Longhorns jumped out to a 10-6 lead and closed with a 5-2 run to take the win.

Elliott said the team finally found its rhythm in the last set.

“We stayed a little more consistent, and I thought [Nebraska] started making some more errors and gave us some opportunities to widen the gap there,” Elliott said. “When you are a good blocking team and you play good defense, you can wear your opponent down.”

The victory marks Texas’ second win against a ranked opponent on the road this season. Eckerman led the Longhorns with 20 kills, while Neal posted a career day with 15 kills and 15 digs.

The Longhorns open up conference play Wednesday on the road against West Virginia.

Sophomore outside hitter Amy Neal still feels the Nebraska rivalry exists, even after Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten. For the third time in two years, the rivals will meet Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Before the latest round of conference realignment, the Big 12 volleyball championship usually went through Austin or Lincoln, Nebraska.

Since the conference’s inception in 1996, Texas and Nebraska have a combined 17 conference titles and finished first and second eight times. And even after the Cornhuskers left for the Big Ten, the rivalry between the schools has continued.

“It’s always been crazy, and I think it’s just as big as when they were [in the Big 12],” junior outside hitter Amy Neal said.

The two top-10 teams will write a new chapter in the rivalry Saturday at 2 p.m. when they face off in Lincoln.

“It’s what makes this sport fun,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We get an opportunity to play one of the premier programs in the country.”

Overall, the stats show that Nebraska has dominated the rivalry. The Cornhuskers boast a 30-19 record over the Longhorns and took home 11 conference titles while they were in the Big 12.

In a stretch from 1994 to 2000, Nebraska beat Texas in 10 of 12 matches, including a 3-1 win in the 1995 national championship game. After Elliott was hired as the head coach in 2001, it took the Longhorns 10 matches to finally defeat the Cornhuskers.

“They used to eat our lunch pretty bad when I got here,” Elliott said.

But in recent years, the tide has turned. The Longhorns have won six of the past seven meetings. Last year in the regular season, Texas battled to a 3-2 win in Austin.

Then the rivalry went to the next level when the two faced off in the Lincoln Regional final with a Final Four spot on the line. Despite the Cornhuskers’ home-court advantage, the Longhorns managed to hand them a sweep. 

“I’m sure they’re focused on trying to be able to redeem themselves,” Elliott said.

The trip to Lincoln is the second time in three weeks the Longhorns will face a top-tier team in a tough environment. On Sept. 6, they beat then No. 11 Florida in Gainesville. Elliott said he likes scheduling tough matches in the nonconference season to get his team ready for conference play and the postseason.

“We need to put our team in some environments that are chaotic and tough to play in, and Nebraska provides that,” Elliott said.

The No. 2 Longhorns (7-0) come into this meeting undefeated and having only dropped one of their 22 sets this year. Texas’ eight players with double-digit kills and six players with 30 or more kills have created a balanced and deep attack.

Neal said the deep lineup and tough competition has helped the team’s confidence this season.

“In our gym in practice, it’s super competitive, which makes everyone train really hard,” Neal said. “Knowing if someone is struggling, that another person can go in, it builds our confidence in our team.”

Despite its No. 9 ranking, Nebraska (5-2) dropped two matches to top-15 teams earlier this season against No. 6 Florida State and No. 1 Stanford. The Cornhuskers also have just one senior on a roster made up primarily of sophomores.

Still, this latest chapter in the rivalry will likely be the Longhorns’ toughest test so far this season.

“This match doesn’t determine whether our season ends or not,” Elliott said. “We can take this match and learn from it.”

In her second year with the Longhorns, sophomore setter Chloe Collins is fitting in on the team. Splitting the setting duties with redshirt sophomore Nicole Dalton, Collins has posted 121 assists so far this season.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

On and off the volleyball court, Texas is chock-full of personality, something noticeable during many games. But it’s sophomore setter Chloe Collins’ goofy nature that stands out the most.   

“I’m always laughing about something,” Collins said. “My teammates are like, ‘Make sure you’re focused,’ but, little do they know, me being goofy and the playful person that I am — that’s my focus for getting with the team.”

Collins, at 5 feet 7 inches tall from Cypress, stepped onto campus while most of her high school friends were living up their senior year. For Collins, it was important to get onto campus as she was ready to become a member of the Longhorn volleyball team, a challenging feat.

Collins faced the normal challenges of adapting to college life. She got homesick and had to adjust to life in Austin, but the biggest obstacle in her way was fitting in with the multiple personalities present on the team. While fitting in was difficult at first, getting onto the team and UT’s campus a semester early helped with the transition.

“It was a beneficial transition for me,” Collins said. “I was able to get ahead in a lot of things, like academically and as well with bonding with the team for last year’s season. It just helped me to get [to] know players more instead of just coming right in the summer and having to develop quickly.”

Now in her second season, the coaching staff has noticed that Collins is fitting in better.

“I think [Collins] has gotten a lot more relaxed,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I think she’s starting to get comfortable. She’s starting to have fun, which is great.”

That newfound sense of relaxation has helped Collins’ performance this season. She leads the team in assists with 121 this season and averages 5.5 assists per set. 

Collins is even getting more help from her head coach. She had already built a relationship with former associate head coach Salima Rockwell, but, now, the setter and head coach are creating a chemistry of their own, which is something Elliott believes will help Collins in the long run.

“Coming here, there’s always a lot of pressure with such high accolades and getting her comfortable and having to compete last year and not earning the [setter] spot as much was tough,” Elliott said. “She’s grown up. She’s starting [to] understand who she is and has worked hard.”

But the coaching staff isn’t alone in noticing Collins’ hard work.

“I’ve known [Collins] since I was 13,” junior libero and outside hitter Amy Neal said. “She’s incredible to play with on the court. She’s super easy to communicate with. She always has a great attitude, and she’s just having fun and competing on the court.”

While her goofy personality may raise questions about her focus, her personality is one of 15 different personalities working toward a national championship.

“At the end of the day, we all want the same goal,” Collins said. “There’s no individual goal. The ultimate goal is to be in a national championship with your team.”