Hurricanes setter wise beyond her years

Women’s volleyball setter Jill Robinson is living proof that age has nothing to do with ability.

Robinson began her career on the ‘Canes as a true freshman last year and wasted no time showing exactly what she was made of. She consistently led the team to victory and earned Big East Rookie of the Week honors on four separate occasions during the 2003 season.

“It seems like I’ve always been the youngest person on the team, so I don’t really look at being 18 as an obstacle. Every teammate is equally important and we treat each other in a way that reflects this attitude,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s serious approach to volleyball is balanced by her fun-loving nature that has given her the reputation of being the comedic relief on the team. She is admired by her peers for being able to combat a stressful situation with a smile and a laugh.

“She always seems to handle the stresses of being a student athlete with as much skill as she shows on the courts,” Head Coach Nicole Lantagne Welch said.

Originally from Merced, Calif., Robinson is no stranger to athletic competition, having come from a family of athletes. Her father, Jerry Robinson, played football at UCLA and was selected to the NCAA College Football Hall of Fame before spending 13 seasons in the NFL. Robinson’s sister, Jacque, played volleyball at the University of Florida.

“Jacque has been the most influential person in my life in every aspect and especially when it comes to playing volleyball,” Robinson said.

Robinson certainly has made her own name in the world of sports, currently ranking second in assists in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Twice this season she has reached a career high of 67 assists in a match.

“Jill basically runs our offense. The team responds well to her and wants to work hard for her,” Lantagne Welch said.

Robinson receives a great amount of encouragement and advice from Lantagne Welch, who was a setter for the University of Maryland. Lantagne Welch’s previous experience as a top player in the ACC enables her to give Robinson the guidance she needs to lead the team on the court.

“I chose UM for two basic reasons: to be close to my sister and because I really liked Coach Welch because felt I could grow under her,” Robinson said.

The Hurricanes are currently on a five-match winning streak, placing them at No. 2 in the ACC. Robinson and Lantagne Welch emphasized that the goals for this season are to define the ‘Canes as leaders of the conference and improve in every area as a team. The climactic event of the season could be the match against current conference leader Georgia Tech.

“Jill has the potential to become the best setter in the ACC and will without a doubt strive to improve every year,” Lantagne Welch said.

Robinson and the Hurricanes return to action Friday at home against Maryland.

Stacey Arnold can be contacted at