NCAA First and Second Rounds media availability quotes
Dec. 3, 2008
Head coach Jerritt Elliott
On the distractions of playing at home: We’ve talked to the team before we started practices about how to eliminate distractions that are here. We have also tried to get them to see the selection of seeding as business and unimportant. Where you’re placed doesn’t dictate who will win.
On making it to the tournament: We’ve definitely accomplished our first goal of winning the Big 12 Championship. Now we have to try and write the next chapter. This is what you come here for, what it is all about, and there is a different excitement in the air. There is always an extreme amount of excitement coming into the tournament. Being the No. 1 seed we have expectations of getting into the final four. It’s a great opportunity, but we have a very tough road ahead of us. What we also have is experience, and we look forward to using that to our advantage.
On recruiting Michelle Kocher: We kind of found her by mistake. We were at a practice and she had elected to be on the top team and train with them. We saw some gifted things, we talked to her coaches about her and they thought she was probably the best in their program and she had a great mind on her, so we really liked what we saw, and we like what we got.
How the loss to OU played a crucial role in getting them this far: Often as a coach you have to push and prod to keep your team motivated especially through a long season such as this, but since that lost it has been primarily player-driven.
Freshman setter Michelle Kocher
On how the team has evolved this season: We definitely have come full circle this year. This season hasn’t been smooth, but that has been beneficial. We’ve had our highs and lows but I feel that even the lows were positive. Now, going into the tournament, we know that you might have one bad set, but can still bounce back
On the loss to OU: It was definitely a low, but it just gave us that extra motivation. We always come into every practice working hard everyday. But since then it has made us all the more motivated knowing that anything can happen out there and we can’t take a single game lightly.
On the tournament: We wanted this really bad. Now that we have it, it is time to utilize it. We’ve been in the gym, had great practices, and we are ready for what’s to come.
On the tournament seeding: Even before the seeding was announced some of the upper classmen warned us that though we may prefer a certain seeding, whatever we get is what we get. We need to just go into every match only worried about the opponent we are facing focused, and not worried of what is ahead.
On playing at home: We were very excited to see that we will be playing in Austin. It just makes everything that much better especially with final exams. It’s definitely a gift, but we are aware that we still need to stay focused on our match.
On her development this season: It takes time and repetition. It’s been an evolving process. It is continuous, but it is getting better. Destinee and I now don’t have to talk about things anymore because we just flow. It took a while to get a flow going, but now we are well prepared and in-sync.
Junior opposite hitter Ashley Engle
On winning back-to-back Big 12 titles and what that says about Coach Elliott: This is why I came to this program. I think that he’s a great coach and a great person. I know that every person on our team respects him so much. He has really turned this program around. Back-to-back titles have never been accomplished at Texas since joining the Big 12 and that really speaks highly of him.
On where the team is right now: We look at our season as three separate seasons: the pre-season, conference and NCAA. Now with the Big 12 out of the way, we can really focus on this. I love this time and it is really exciting.
On drawing from last year’s experience: Every year it gets a little easier. Freshman year, I didn’t even know what a selection show was,but now I do. I can see it as it’s a ranking and that’s nice, but that’s just more hype that goes into it and it doesn’t really matter. I think what matters is how our team approaches each practice and match from here on out.
On Lamar: We really don’t know much about them. They’re obviously going to be a great team because they’ve made the tournament just like us. The NCAA tournament is a whole new season. Teams come out and they can either break and fall apart or they can play at a whole new level. I think that’s what we really need to be prepared for.
On what the OU loss taught them: I think we learned that we can’t take any team for granted. You really need to approach every match as if it’s your last. With the tournament, that’s pretty much the case because if you lose, you’re done. We can’t overlook any team. We really need to focus on every match.
On Michelle Kocher’s performance: I am so impressed by Michelle. I think it takes so much composure and dedication to be a setter. I think it’s great that she has so many options, but at the same time it’s hard because she has to make everyone happy and mix it up. She has to find out what’s working and stick with it or mix it up to keep teams off balance. As a freshman, that’s a lot to handle. She’s doing a great job and has continued to improve every game.
On playing on their home court: The thing I wanted to see was if we were going to be at home because our fans are unbelievable. To be able to be here, play for them and know they’re supporting us makes it that much better. Our atmosphere here is like nowhere else. I’ve been to many different schools, and there is no place like home.
On playing away last year: I think that traveling and being away changes everything. Especially right now with school, our finals and everything being so crazy, being at home and having our routine is very helpful.
On the motivation of being so close the last couple of years: I still feel the sting from USC last season. It was a situation where they came out and fought and we didn’t fight back. It’s not good when you know you lost because you didn’t play your best. If you go out and play your best and you lose that’s one thing, but we just fell apart. It’s something we can learn from for this tournament because we don’t want that happening again.
Sophomore outside hitter Juliann Faucette
On playing at home: The fan base is going to be important for us. It would be awesome if we get a full crowd every single night that we get to play on this court. We just want our fans to know that they should come out and support us because it helps a lot.
On the motivation from last season’s tournament: Just experiencing it last year, I have that first-hand experience and I don’t want it happening again. It was a tough loss and we still have that taste in our mouths from last year. I think that’s good for us and it’s a good motivation.
On being at this point in the season: It’s an exciting time. I’ve only experienced it once, but it’s a really fun time. The Big 12 doesn’t even matter anymore. We get to see new teams, which is cool because playing in conference and playing the same teams twice can get redundant. Now, we get to see new faces and new teams.
On Lamar: I think that everyone’s mentality coming into this tournament is going to be that you have to play to win or else your season is over. We can’t take any team lightly. We don’t know much about Lamar yet, but I’m sure they’re going to come fired up. We’re on our home court, and they want to make sure that we don’t stay here. We have to take it all into consideration with everything we play and it’s one match at a time.