Illini of the Week Sept. 28: Jordyn Poulter

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Karolina Marczewski

Illinois’ Jordyn Poulter attempts to set the ball during the match against Rutgers at Huff Hall on September 24. The Illini won 3-0.

By Tiffany Zhang

When the Illini offense is flowing, it’s flowing through Jordyn Poulter.

The sophomore setter’s role on the team is obvious to people watching the games.

“I think the setter on any team is a leader,” Poulter said. “We’re running the offense; the offense is our responsibility.”

Poulter controls the tempo for the Illini and decides what her offense will do in any given situation. She reads the defense, and from there decides who to set up for a swing, or if she will dump it herself on two.

“She’s like a quarterback,” head coach Kevin Hambly said.

Poulter is a leader on the team almost by default. Hambly said Poulter is not a woman of many words, but she has become a better communicator and therefore a better leader as she has spent more time with the Illini.

“Before people were following her, but she didn’t know how to lead,” Hambly said. “Now she’s connecting with people more, talking to them more, she’s getting better at it all the time.”

Sophomore middle blocker Blayke Hranicka called working with Poulter “awesome” and said that she was a leader on and off the floor.

“She is very strong and stoic on the court,” Hranicka said. “It’s really nice to have that presence around all the time.”

Poulter is much taller and more physical than the average setter, and she has been able to use her 6-foot-2 frame to become one of the better blockers on the team.

“Physically, she has some gifts,” Hambly said. “Last year she would just use her gifts, but this year she’s really learning how to block and read the game. We put a lot of time into that.”

Their efforts have paid off, as Poulter is second on the team in blocks — already recording 46 on the season.

Hambly had previously said that he was encouraging Poulter to go for points herself more often, in order to open up play for her teammates more and keep opposing defenders honest. In Sept, 21 match win against Purdue, Poulter did just that, grabbing six kills and hitting for the highest percentage on the team.

“She’s kind of like Lebron James, or Magic Johnson, in that she doesn’t want to get her own shot, she wants to serve,” Hambly said. “But we’re like, ‘You doing this opens things up.’ It’s like if LeBron hits a three, it opens things up underneath and he can drop a ball off. It’s the same thing, where she can get the middle worrying (about her).”

Poulter has become one of the standouts for the Illini, racking up 50 assists and 5 blocks against Purdue alone.

The Illini rely heavily on their setter to dictate the flow of the game from the floor. It takes a certain type of personality to be able to handle that kind of pressure, but Hambly thinks that he has that in Poulter.

“She relishes it, she likes to have that (pressure),” Hambly said. “I think this year she’s more of a leader for us, and she’s excited about it. She’s not running from it, not afraid of it, she feels more comfortable being in that role.”

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