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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

University of Florida transfer making her mark at Arizona

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Keith Hickman-Perfetti
Keith Hickman-Perfetti / Arizona Daily WIldcat Madi Kingdon, No. 9, and the University of Arizona’s Women’s Volleyball Team plays Eastern Washington at the McKale Center in Tucson Ariz., on Sept. 3, 2011.

Chanel Brown picked up a volleyball for the first time during fifth grade on the playground of her elementary school in Tempe, Ariz. Following the advice of her teacher, Brown enrolled in a volleyball club and hasn’t left the court since.

The 5-foot-9 junior transfer setter has close to a decade of experience in competitive volleyball. She recalls receiving her first recruitment letter in seventh grade. As a senior in high school, Brown led her team to an Arizona State Championship and earned the 2009 MVP award.

She transitioned into collegiate volleyball and became a Gator at the University of Florida.

“The world of recruitment opened up right away and I was lucky in that my family was able to send me to a lot of schools to check out the teams,” Brown said. “I chose Florida my junior year in high school.”

The decision brought Brown to the top of Southeastern Conference, where she started every match her freshman year and led the squad with 5.59 assists per set. She led her team to an SEC Championship and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen as a freshman. By the time the Gators got to the Elite Eight her sophomore year, Chanel was ready for a change.

“I had to step back and think about the direction I wanted to take, as a player, for personal growth, and realized I wanted a different coaching mentality,” Brown said.

The Wildcats program became a valid option to Brown due to its specialty and emphasis on the setter. She said the focus on the position made her really pursue Arizona as an option because her ultimate goal is to pursue a professional career as a setter abroad after graduation.

“Chanel has competed at an extremely high level,” head coach Dave Rubio said.

Rubio already is expecting Brown to be a team leader, and she takes that responsibility in stride. She credits her father as the source of her competitive streak.

“I think my dad really has instilled that competitive drive,” Brown said with a smile. “I absolutely hate losing, it’s just like a stab to my soul. It doesn’t matter if it’s volleyball or board games with my family.”

Her teammates admit they enjoy the competition that she brings to the setter position. Lauren Fuller, a freshman setter from Los Angeles, and Brown are battling to set in Rubio’s 5-1 setter rotation in which one setter stays on the court for a full rotation rather than two setters playing at the same time.

“Chanel does have a lot of experience as opposed to Lauren, who is just a freshman, but they’re both so talented,” sophomore middle blocker Rachel Rhoades said. “They are a really good balance because you can tell they push each other a lot.”

The Pacific 12 Conference boasts the best volleyball programs in the country. Brown is happy to be close to her hometown and to be able to compete against the best.

“I have always known I wanted to be in sports in the long run,” Brown said. “I hope it’s continuing to play volleyball until I am old and can’t walk.”

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