Standing at 6-foot-2 with two varsity letters to her name, Michelle Knox towers above the competition, and her own teammates.
In fact, being the leader and team captain of the CSU volleyball team wasn’t hard for Knox to pull off considering she is the only senior on this year’s team. The lone junior on the team, Tiffany Dolven, trails Knox for seniority.
That leaves the remaining 10 girls on the team as sophomores and freshmen, which in turn makes for a very young team. Alas, if the team is forced to have only one senior and one leader, Knox is definitely the woman for the job.
A transfer from Auburn University, Knox joined the Rams as a middle blocker for the 2000 season, only to suffer an injury with a broken finger in November 2000. Despite the setback, Knox emerged victorious.
“It turned out to be a good thing,” she said of the experience. “Being injured made me want to play. It really made me want to start.”
Knox went on to set a few season and career highs in 2001. During the second round of the NCAA Tournament, she set a career-high in kills, ending the match with 15. She also ended the season with 124 block assists, putting her on the CSU season record chart in eighth place.
Looking ahead, Knox is setting her sights on the horde of tough preseason match-ups, beginning this weekend against Kansas State. In terms of pressure, Knox admits she does feel a little anxious about leading the young team into the season, but she also declared that she was “very excited” to be working with such a great group of girls.
When asked what she expects of herself, Knox stated that she wishes to “set an example for the girls” with her work ethic.
The girls certainly seem to appreciate Knox’s example as well. Dolven, junior middle blocker for the Rams, stated that Knox has been crucial in maintaining the unity on the team.
Assistant coach Andy Klussmann has no reservations concerning Knox’s vital role on the team this year.
“Michelle is in the perfect role already,” Kussmann said. “She is completely approachable, she is in touch on different levels with the girls, and we are definitely lucky to have her.”
He also mentioned that the whole team expects nothing but the best from Knox this season. They want her to be the “Terminator,” the “go-to” girl during crunch times.
Klussmann and the team seem pretty confident that Knox will perform to her potential. And how does Knox feel about all this pressure?
“Pretty good. I really want to play good under pressure, to remain steady. I think we’ll all put in our best efforts. I know I’m still learning just as much as the younger girls. Right now I’m learning the back row, which is new to me, so we all have things to work on.”
Knox said she expects 150 percent from herself and her teammates this season. But with a girl like Knox leading the team, a girl who, in the words of Dolven has “gone beyond what’s expected,” why wouldn’t the team tower above the competition this season?