USC vs. Wichita State Postgame Quotes
Dec. 7, 2012
2012 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Tournament
USC head coach Mick Haley
On stopping the Wichita State attackers: (Ashley Ashdale) has been hot. She has been one of the best players in the country the last three weeks and she's been going off on everybody and we were really fortunate we could slow her down tonight. Once we were able to take her out a little bit, then we could give a little bit more attention to the outside and we were really worried about their setters and really what the whole offense runs through all year. We were able to keep her under control. You're never going to stop her because she's really quite good and distributes the ball extremely well. The bottom line was we were able to slow down their attack and then got on them with the serve. That was the difference in the match. If they could have passed the way they wanted, they could have given us some trouble.
On what is most important in these postseason matches: Serve and pass. It's the simplest things you teach your kids but it's the hardest thing to do under pressure. I thought Sara [Shaw]'s serving tonight was exemplary. She just threaded the needle with a high velocity and Samantha [Bricio] overpowered their libero a little bit, but I'm sure that youngster doesn't have that happen to her a lot because she's really good, so if she had a steady diet of that I think she would be much better the second or third time around.
On the strategy against Wichita State: On their serve-receive, if we allow their setter to get close to the net, she becomes the third attacker, so the three rotations where she's in the front row, if we keep her off the net, then we can use our size to slow down their hitters, but where they've been beating people is the transition game. You noticed a couple times they were so quick on transition that they could snap the ball over into the deep-5 [position] and we didn't have a chance to get the ball. If they could have done that more, that's where they've been hurting people a lot, and they've been very good at it and we're just real fortunate we could keep them from having too many opportunities for that. That's really the name of the game. If you can cut down their opportunities have our digs-to-kill be better than their digs-to-kill, then it was a first ball kill game, and I see we won that after the first game. They won the first ball kill game in the first game and still lost that set, but we won the next two games. I think we were 80% and 82% side-out and that's going to win for you in the NCAAs.
On hitting like tonight consistently: I'd love to have it at that level. Usually you're 65-70% if you're at all that high and a really tight battle would get you 56-62%, so you have to watch that real carefully.
On which team he would rather play between Florida and Texas: I can't really care who we play, because I don't know enough about either team. When I looked at the stats this morning between these two teams, they are even in just about everything. It'll be real interesting to see who wins the match tonight because both of these teams are really playing at a high level right now and regardless of their seeds, it's what you do out on the court and Florida's had a good pre-conference schedule. In conference, they weren't expected to do as well and they kind of roared through that thing and now they're playing really well in the tournament. Texas did really well early, did well in the conference, and maybe had a little slip-up in the end there but that's the way it goes. Everybody anticipates the tournament starting and it's hard to keep everybody focused.
Freshman outside hitter Samantha Bricio
On the effort tonight: We were really prepared and really focused.
Junior outside hitter Sara Shaw
On the environment: It feels great to see my friends and family, but then again I need to stay focused on the match and get focused for the next match.
On serving: We have different tactics serving-wise and catching their passers off-balance and hitting them with an angle. I think our job tonight was to keep them off the net, keep the setter from getting over on the second hit, because she's pretty good at that, but I think serving tough was what we need to do.
On finishing out the first set: When it gets close, we focus and we stay patient, because staying patient helps us get those extra points and those extra digs that we need to get to stay in the game, so I think we all did a really good job of staying patient with our game.
Wichita State head coach Chris Lamb
Opening statement: Well, I'm not going to lie I'm a little hurt. We just lost in a big match. There were moments in that match where I thought we had a few things going our way and I started really believing. I thought we could get them to crack a little bit - something might open up. Shoving that aside, I'm very, very, very proud of my team and for our season. For a program like ours, the nonconference stuff at the beginning of the year is so critical. Our program has been walking through mine fields since August and this group got to extent the longest season in school history. Like I just said in the locker room, five weeks ago we were perhaps at rock bottom. We were beat up, injured, and weren't feeling too good about ourselves. I know people our going to read about this stuff and probably throw it over their heads, but the turnaround that this group made and needed to make on the road a few weeks ago to win a match they needed to win and come back and retool and play the line up and get some momentum going and feel good again, was great. Once we got that behind us, we were right back to our normal line up again. We've played some of the best volleyball we've ever played around here and got some great wins and put these last two or three weeks together and that has just been amazing. These guys have a coach that is very, very proud of his team and everyone in it. I'm just sad that we're done.
On instilling belief in the team against a big opponent: I'm going to make my evaluation more on energy and performance. They'll have to tell you if they believed or not. I don't know how to evaluate it. I saw a team that was loose and comfortable. I didn't see us nervous or looking over our shoulder. Using my measures, I thought I saw a bunch of gals out there that were excited to be here and let it all hang out. They gave it a nice shot. A lot of times when you play more physical opponents, you wish you could play them three or four times to get used to some things, like angles and ball speed. I'd love to do it again. I know the rules and I know we're not going to get that chance tomorrow. I learned something tonight. Every time we play these good teams we learn something as we play them. I'm going to tell you, if I had to give them a letter grade for believing, there were a lot of B's and A's for us.
On what was going their way: I know it might look crazy but we planned to keep some of their numbers down. Some of their outside scorers weren't scoring a lot relative to what they normally do in their conference. We had some girls on their team below their numbers. I was just hoping to frustrate them, even if their numbers were okay, I just wanted to see them out of it. I saw moments where energy shifted and some plays were going our way and some of their players were getting on each other a little bit. I thought, and still believed, when you're in the roll that we're in you kind of need that to happen. I told these guys, when you're in a heavyweight fight, you've got a puncher's chance and you never know when they're going to crack. They're probably going to have to crack if you're going to beat them. You just have to stay in it long enough and hope that if you do enough things right, you could maybe get a couple of breaks and eventually a team like that could get down. You've got to hang out long enough. I think us being at this level and this tournament is that. We've got to be relevant long enough that when we get a bracket that doesn't put us against the No. 1 overall seed or No. 1 seed in the region in the first or second round, that we've got a fighting chance. You stay in it, you never give up, you keep competing, you keep training, and you try to get better every single day, which is my only goal, and that's a tough goal. I think when you behave that way and when there are good things happening in our gym and between our teammates and staff, good things will happen. Jackie Church is a fifth year senior and she's been in a tournament every year she's been here and I don't know how many girls ever get to say that. It's normal for her. Emily Adney has been on the court wire-to-wire as a starting freshman, a six-rotation player, who guided us to this place every year that she's been here. That stuff means a lot. I'm very proud of it.
On USC's game plan: Any non-volleyball player could have watched what we've been doing over the last week or two and known they'd have to do something about No. 28, Ashley Andrade. They've got the coaching staff to make a plan to do it, they've got the physical bodies to do it, they've got the libero to do it - I'm not surprised. If you want to deal with Chelsey Feekin, getting her off the net is the first thing to do, then serving tough and continuing to attack high and deep, which they're as good at as anybody we've played this year. Those are things that put pressure on keeping Chelsey forward and tight. Tonight, they got that.
On setting up for the spring: I like to say that if you change bus drivers you've got a completely different team. We're graduating some people. They're out the door and new people are coming in. It's a whole new campaign. That's the way I like to say it. Everything is different. Our schedule is going to be different, our team is going to be different, but you can't deny that there are a lot of things learned by this. It's fun to raise the expectation bar because I happen to believe that when you have high expectations and you don't make it but you still get close, you're still operating at a pretty high level. There are no repeat champions; there's always somebody new. The teams you play are always something new. You've just got to start another campaign. My goal is to tool these guys up in the spring and start training. Jackie gave me a compliment in a player meeting one time. She told me, "You always seem to find a way to get the team there." Coaches don't get enough compliments, in my opinion, but that's my job. I will retool, take a look at our talent, and take a look at what's coming in and try one more time to put something together and have another great season for the Shocker fans and Wichita State and everybody else that supports us and gives us what we need. That's my responsibility.
Junior setter Chelsey Feekin
On USC's serving: I think what coach was saying was right. They did serve deep and hard and it was hard for our passers. I know they were doing the best they could to keep balls up so we could get some offense out of it. I think that's exactly what happened, deep serves and deep attacks, where I couldn't get as involved as I would have wanted to be.
On difficulties: I think when you have a team like USC across the net, for anyone it's going to be hard to score. Coach has been talking about the libero all week and about how she's great and it was going to be hard to score on her. I think it was just something when you play teams like USC - it's going to be hard to score.
On how this game helps moving forward: I think we feel like we're losing two amazing people and players, but the group of girls we still have is a really great group of girls. Accomplishing this is something that you dream of. We've done it once and we have a chance to do it again. I think that knowing what it feels like, you strive for it even more than when you don't know what it feels like.
Junior middle blocker Elizabeth Field
On what happened after first set: For us, it was a matter of keeping up with them. Up to that point, we had done a good job. We gave up a couple point runs for them; then they walked out with it. We were proud of that first set. We've been in that position so many times this year. Losing that first set, we thought, "We kind of know what they are doing, we understand them a little better now so let's try to come out in the second set even better and more prepared." Unfortunately, it didn't quite go our way, but I think we battled with them as well as we could have hoped.
On how this game helps going forward: It definitely does. We've been told, multiple times, that recruits are calling off the hook and are excited about this program. We've been playing with each other for four years and I look forward to the fifth.
Senior libero Jackie Church
On difficulty to prepare for height: You can't necessarily prepare for the height. We have what we have in the gym. We can simulate as much as we want, but when you lace up and put your jersey on, it's going to be different. I think our game plan was great. They hit to where we were supposed to be. They're just great hitters. They were going over the blocks and were tough. They had tough serving. That was huge on their part. They definitely took it to us. I think that we prepared for them as much as we could. We knew they were going to be strong and high but hats off to us and our season. This doesn't happen just one weekend. This happens with years and years, and days and days of preparation. This is the time where we finally get a chance and took advantage of that as much as we could. We were prepared for what we've been preparing for our whole lives, I guess. I'm proud of my girls and I'm proud of the team for everything they've done.
Senior outside hitter Emily Adney
On what she'll remember: I've never been on such a good team. Overall, our team flourishes on and off the court and we just figured out other things that work. I can honestly say I've never had this much fun playing volleyball. I think it's great to end on a high, even though we did lose tonight. The past few weeks have been amazing and it's really exciting to look back and remember the good things about how we fixed it when we were having a hard time and were able to pull back in and kept trying and never gave up. That's something to be proud of.