Sunday, February 5, 2023

Maura Collins picks Dayton

It was love at first sight but Independence junior Maura Collins took her time in committing to continue her education and volleyball career at the University of Dayton.

Collins, a 5-foot-6 outside hitter, became the first Independence volleyball player to commit to a Division I college program when she pledged to the Flyers over spring break.

“It's a big relief, honestly,” Collins said “There was a lot of pressure visiting schools, talking to coaches and it was a big decision for my future. I feel really confident in the decision I made. I'm literally in love with Dayton. It's just an amazing school and I love the coaches.”

Dayton began recruiting Collins during her freshman year when she was a setter for her club team.

Collins notified the Dayton coaching staff of her intent to switch positions. The Flyers scouted her through her transition to a defensive specialist/libero role and finally pulled the trigger on an offer.

“I talked to them and went on a visit in September of last year,” Collins said. “I went on two more visits and I went and saw a couple games and went out to eat with a couple players and talked to them. When I stepped on campus I fell in love with it.”

She nearly committed on the spot but took her dad’s advice and waited to see a few more schools.

“My dad was like, 'Be patient because you don't want to jump to conclusions,' but it was beautiful and then I met with the coaches and I love talking with the coaches because they're so enthusiastic about their program,” Collins said. “Theire excitement made me excited for Dayton. After talking to them for a little bit and meeting some of the girls and going to their recruit camp this summer, this was my second year attending, I just knew that's where I wanted to be.”

Collins expects to play DS/Libero in college.

“This past JO season I played libero out of left back so I have some experience there,” she said. “During high school I play middle back so I'm playing both. When I get to Dayton, whichever one they want me to play, wherever they need me, I'll be ready for either or both. They know what I’m doing and it's OK. They're going to work with me for whatever position they end up putting me at.”

Now that she has her college selection behind her, Collins can focus on finishing off her high school career.

As a junior, she is the oldest and most experienced member of the Blue Devils’ squad this season.

“Obviously we’re super young,” she said. “We have four freshmen on the team that will either start or play a big role. Everyone on our team is going to play a big role this year because we're small and we're young. We need options when we have certain matchup problems with certain teams so we need to be able to move people around and we have that. We have that capability. We have middles that could play right side or outside. We have people that can play any position in the back row. We're very flexible but we are young and inexperienced, but most of our team, we have 13 girls on the team, 12 of the 13 play high level club volleyball in the off-season. We're young but we're talented. Once we mesh together as a team we're going to be good.”

Independence head coach Megan Osysko believes Collins provides the veteran leadership her squad needs to quickly develop into the team that can defend its three straight Chagrin Valley Conference championships.

“Maura is the first Division I volleyball commit to come out of Independence High School,” Osysko said. “We are extremely proud of her to have made her decision heading into her junior year. With no seniors on the 2016 roster, Maura has stepped up to the plate and taken on the role as captain. She is ready to lead the team and hold each of her teammates accountable to the success she has already proven in the program. I am excited to see all she can accomplish as a Lady Devil.”

Collins already has helped her younger teammates to understand their roles on the court.

“When you step on the court you have to forget about the ages,” she said. “Our libero is a freshman. When she's next to me, at first I think she was a little afraid to step in front of me as a libero, but I encouraged her. I was like, 'That's your position. You're the libero. You take the free balls and I'm going to get ready to hit a back row attack if they need me.' You have to encourage people to play their position and not back off because, 'Oh, she's a sophomore and I’m a freshman so I'm going to let her take the ball.' It has to be, 'It's my ball, I called it. I'm going for it.' You have to have that confidence. There are no ages or grades. We're all one team. We have to act like we're all the same age and work together for the same goal.”

Independence opens the season on Thursday at Beachwood.



Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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