NCAA Semifinal pre-match press conference quotes
Dec. 17, 2008
HEAD COACH Jerritt Elliott
On the recent progress of the Texas program: First of all when I came to the program in 2001, this was one of the goals; to get Texas back and return the pride to Texas volleyball. It's been a long process. We've been knocking of the door the last two years and haven't been able to make that step. This year was the first time we have been able to do that. I'm very proud about the type of players we have recruited and the type of quality of people that we have and most importantly about the foundation that we have laid. This isn't the type of team that is going to just go away after one year. We've built this the right way, in terms of trying to return here every year for a national championship ... The season isn't just a success based on getting to the final four, we have the talent to compete here and to walk on the floor and win.
On the progress of the team since the last time they played Stanford: The first time we played was so long ago that they were playing in a 6-2 offense they were trying to find some adjustments, Foluke (Akinradewo) was a non-factor at that point because of the setting relationships. They have gotten significantly better. The are very similar in terms of the type of team they are. They have two of the best outside hitters in Alix Klineman and Cynthia Barboza, (Janet) Okogbaa has come a long way in their M2 spot and they play in great conference that allows them to be battle tested every night. It's going to come down to serve and pass, making the right decisions in terms of schemes and getting great out of system swings to score.
On the progress of Michelle Kocher: I was very impressed when we identified her as a recruit. She was very composed, very thought provoking and very steady in the way she approached the game. She wasn't too high or too low. Ashley set for us all spring. She had a phenomenal season setting. We had what we felt was one of the best players in the world coming in, a player from Croatia signed a letter-of-intent, but she backed out and we had to make some adjustments at the last second. Ashley is kind of our do-everything player, we needed her ball control out there. She was a team player and said, I want to do whatever it takes to win coach ... It is a tremendous reward for Michelle to be here as a freshman. It is very hard to get here as a freshman and I don't view her as a freshman in terms of the way I have to talk to her before matches.
JUNIOR OPPOSITE HITTER Ashley Engle
On playing Stanford early in the season: Michelle Kocher, our setter, is a freshman. Building relationships and trust and building some momentum is tough in the second match of the season. Now we have had quite a few matches under our belt, and we get along really well on the court and have great team chemistry.
On the extra motivation to get back at Stanford: Being in the final four is already so exciting that we just want to play anyway. This is the second time since I've been at Texas that we've played Stanford in the tournament. They are a great program and a great team ... but they did beat us in the same place in August and it would be great to use that as a motivational factor this time around.
On Penn State: They are really good. All the teams here are really good, but the thing that I find impressive is not losing a single set all season. I think every team will drop a game here or there. That just shows that they are not only talented, but they are mentally tough. That is a great combination.
SENIOR MIDDLE BLOCKER Lauren Paolini
On Penn State: I think they've had a phenomenal season. It is really hard to go undefeated not even losing a single set. They're a really strong team. They have a good offense and a good defense.