If you have even a slight pulse on the Southland Conference volleyball scene then the subject of this interview is no stranger to you. Marissa Collins was third in the nation in assists per set last year and is about to become Central Arkansas' all-time leader in total assists. She is arguably one of the best setters to ever play in this conference and her accolades continue to pile up year after year after year.
During the last few seasons, a lot of attention has been placed on the Sugar Bears attackers such as wonderchild Chloe Smith and more recently, Jessica Hays. Rightfully so. In addition, anyone who has read here over the years has witnessed many a word gush from this website about those two... especially Hays - one of my favorite players of all-time. However, Collins has been the one dishing out all those beautiful sets for the last four years. She's won Freshman of the Year, Setter of the Year (twice) and been All-SLC as well as All-SLC Tournament. More humbly, she was my pick last year here at the blog for Player of the Year.
Last year, when UCA beat ORU in the SLC final, I headed down into the fray trying to capture an interview here or there. I kept thinking.. just find Collins and Hays.. just find Collins and Hays. I did get a chance to talk to Jessica Hays and head coach David McFatrich, but among all the pandemonium on the floor with friends and relatives, I just simply missed Collins among the celebration. Not to mention I was in the "wrong shade" of purple, so I wasn't exactly a known entity* among all the familiar faces.
If there was a person I was hoping to interview this year, Marissa Collins was probably it. If UCA manages to successfully replace her production after the 2013 campaign, then the group from Conway will still be the ones with the target on their back.
I know at least a few folks around the conference have said that they expected UCA to still be good after Smith, Curl, Hammonds, and Hays all left in the last few years....but they didn't expect them to still be sitting this pretty. The one constant amidst all that change is....well... you know by now:
Click Here to listen to the interview with Marissa Collins
*regarding my associations with teams around the conference...
I can't stress this enough so I will write it again here. The league has been incredibly receptive to the first five years of this blog. This post is about Central Arkansas and so I should openly thank David McFatrich for always being so cordial and inclusive. We've agreed, we've disagreed, but in the end UCA has been a collegial supporter of my efforts. For that I am very, very blessed. The same could be said for coaches, players & parents at Sam Houston, Lamar, Northwestern State, McNeese, TAMUCC, and others. I still feel like I have many relationships to forge. That being said, my credibility is entirely based on continuing to learn the game, be open to criticism, and stay out of people's way when they have a job to do.
Finally, the coaches, players, parents and athletic staff at SFA have my complete dedication. I am in debt to all those at SFA that have patiently taught me and allowed me to be a part of this program. I'll talk volleyball with a fence post, so the number of times I have tired people out in discussions is probably mounting. Thanks for putting up with my - at times - unconstrained enthusiasm.