With one year under their belts, Illinois’ sophomore class consists of three players who will play large roles in the 2019 campaign. With the spring season rapidly approaching, here’s a look at the schedule released last week. Here’s a glimpse at the three players who make up the sophomore class.
Kuper, a 5-foot-8 defensive specialist, became a key part of the Illini defense from the get-go last year, playing in all 132 sets. She was third on the team in digs with 282, but also provided an offensive threat as the team leader in aces with 44.
With no defensive players graduating last season, Kuper’s role will likely remain the same, playing the back row and rotating in as a defensive specialist. Coming off of an exciting freshman campaign, Kuper should be a staple of next year’s Illini squad.
Technically a redshirt freshman, Brown did not play last season, but practiced with the team as a setter. Not only has Brown spent a year in the system, she also spent a year studying under one of the best setters in Illinois history — Jordyn Poulter.
With the experience Brown has gained at Illinois already, and four years of eligibility remaining, she can be an extremely valuable asset for an Illinois team looking to replace an All-American setter.
A central Illinois native, Allison transferred to Illinois this offseason after spending her freshman season at Auburn, where she started every match for a team which went 12-16. A local product from White Heath, Allison was a member of the SEC’s All-Freshmen team.
Allison is the other sophomore setter on the Illini roster, and with a year of game experience under her belt already, she is poised to slide in to that starting setter slot.
Impact: The Future of Illini Setting
While Taylor Kuper played a huge role for the Illini last year, her duties shouldn’t change much during the coming season, but her impact will be felt just the same. The big X-Factor with regards to long-term success in the future comes at the setter position, through which the entire offense runs.
With the departure of Jordyn Poulter, the role will need to be filled and that responsibility will fall on the sophomore class.
The start of the actual 2019 season is a ways off and with nothing to see so far, I can’t really gauge who I’d favor for that position. However, both seem to be great options for Illinois to turn to, and having multiple options is great, both in terms of versatility and depth. Certainly, both Allison and Brown will gets reps during the spring season, and more conclusions can be drawn then.