CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — After a year of waiting, Diana Brown is ready to make a name for herself.
“My teammates have my back the whole way,” the Illinois volleyball setter said. “They know that I’m not Jordyn (Poulter), I’m Diana Brown. So I’m trying to be Diana Brown not Jordyn.”
Coming off a redshirt season, Brown is now Illinois’ starting setter, a title previously held by All-American Jordyn Poutler. As one of the best to ever wear an Illini jersey, Poulter is third all-time with more than 5,000 career assists, leaving some big shoes to fill for Brown.
“I loved redshirting,” Brown said. “I came in and I didn’t know how I was going to feel not playing on the court for a year. But knowing I had trained in the gym for at least a whole year and some, that really made me comfortable. I got to learn from Jordyn, not that many people can say that.”
That waiting game lasted longer than just one year though. Brown committed to play at Illinois way back in 2014 when she was just a freshman in high school. The Ohio-native finally made her debut, in the season opener against Tennessee.
“She had some really nice plays from both the offensive and defensive end, and just played a complete game,” Illinois head coach Chris Tamas said about her first time on the court. “It’s tough to replace Jordyn, but I think she’s doing a nice job of being her own setter and creating her own mark out there right.”
“It’s a lot more fun being on the court, rather than the sideline,” Brown added. “I was nervous and I think that’s normal. If you’re not nervous, I think you should be a little worried about that but I think if you’re nervous that’s normal. It didn’t really come to point where I doubted myself.”
Averaging just over 10 assists per set, Brown ranks fifth in the Big Ten heading into this weekend’s Redbird Classic, hosted by Illinois State. It’s still early, but if Brown continues at this pace, she’s on track to put up better numbers than Poulter did her freshman season, putting her in some pretty good company.