Chloe Collins remembers her first time on a volleyball court. She was a child in Cypress, Texas, clad in a YMCA uniform.
“I remember the exact place and time,” Collins said. “[With] our little blue jerseys. I was in the back row.”
Since then, the freshman setter has grown a few inches and swapped blue for burnt orange to become one of three freshmen on the defending national championship team.
“Texas was always my number one school,” Collins said. “I committed really early. As soon as Texas offered, I took it.”
Collins’ path to Texas included a trip to Turkey for the 2011 FIVB World Championship as a member of the United States Girls’ Youth National Team.
It also included an explosive senior season at Cypress Woods High School, where Collins helped catapult the team to a 40-4 record, contributing 305 kills, 51 aces, 318 digs, 1,313 assists and 62 blocks. That season landed her a spot among honorees on the Under Armour High School All-America First Team.
Collins opted to leave Cypress Woods a semester early and enroll at Texas.
“It was an all-around great decision,” Collins said. “I was able to get ahead in academics, as well as learning the offense and defense at Texas.”
As spring play commenced, Collins suited up and went onto the court without hesitating. In her first game at Gregory Gym, a 3-2 win over Wichita State in April, she tallied 18 assists, four kills and three digs.
“We had the best friends here yelling and cheering and the atmosphere was amazing,” Collins said of her first game. “Having the support that we have here and the team being so supportive of us coming in is great.”
The spring semester in Austin allowed Collins to fine-tune her competence on the court, as well as work on her time management skills, responsibility and priorities. She found a mentor in senior setter Hannah Allison, a team leader who helped pave the way for the Longhorns’ national championship.
As the team’s fall schedule kicked off, Collins added a match-leading 33 assists against UTEP in Honolulu. Against Penn State, the No. 1 team in the country at the time, Collins added her first double-double of the season with 22 assists and 16 digs. Her second straight double-double came the following day against No. 2 Stanford.
While Collins didn’t expect to contribute so much at the start of the season, head coach Jerritt Elliott quickly saw potential, calling her “one of the best pure athletes I have ever coached.”
Collins, who cranks up music and dances before games to shake out the jitters, has quickly established herself as an enthusiastic presence on the court.
“It can be a little whiffer ball and I’ll get crunk on it because it’s a point,” Collins said. “Just being on the court really excites me because I have a passion.”
While adjusting to college life and navigating the pressures of intense play make for a interesting set of challenges, Collins’ goals for her first season remain simple.
“[To] better my team, learn my role more and continue to get better every day,” Collins said.