herNCAA Volleyball Regional Pre-Tournament Quotes Dec. 9, 2004
Tennessee Head Coach Rob Patrick:
"First of all, we are very excited to be here, to be playing when there are only 16 teams left in the tournament. This is a great regional; we've been here before in Minnesota, I think about five years ago. They run a first class operation, so we're real excited to be here in Minneapolis also; they know how to run a great tournament. We're excited to play Ohio State. They are a great team; they had a great season. They have a great coach, great players, one in particular, you could argue is player of the year, and we are excited for the challenge that that team brings to us. There are no easy matches at this point in the season, so we're just going to have to prepare our best and play some real good volleyball."
"I think beating Florida has really propelled us to where we are right now. The only thing that these players had not accomplished in the last two years was beating a team like Florida. We've beaten top 25 teams, we've beaten pretty much everybody in our conference, but we really hadn't gotten over the hump to beating a top 10 team. When we played them at home and lost in four, I really sensed a change in attitude. They weren't happy, they were really angry. They felt they let the match get away from them. Although Florida won the match and was the better team that day, we felt that if we played better we had an opportunity to win that back. At no time did they ever say there is no way we will ever be able to beat Florida or anything like that, because our goal was to beat them. So they gained a lot of confidence going into that second Florida match, and we'd beaten Florida in the spring, it is a little bit more relaxed then, but it really changed the way they thought about whether they could play with teams like Florida. I think it's really helped us throughout the last half of the season. It's helped us to play teams like Texas A&M, and even helps us start preparing for a team like Ohio State."
"One of the things that I think is a trademark of Tennessee volleyball since we got here, something we've tried to foster is a team that plays with a lot of heart. We've always had real good ball control teams, defensive teams, and we didn't always have the athletes we do now in Michelle (Piantadosi) and Julie (Knytych), who are big and strong, and are great volleyball players. In the past we had to do it with something a little bit less, and try to outwork the other team. We've tried to keep that philosophy as we continue to build a team over the last couple of years. When you look at our roster you won't see any superstars. This year we have four or five selective hitters and Julie does a tremendous job distributing the ball to basically five different players. It's been a joy to see the team effort that has come out of they type of play that we have, because one player can be having an off day, and four people can step up and make up for that. We're not dependent on one person or two people. That's helped us play consistently; this team has played consistently at a high level more than any team I've coached, and that goes back all the way to when I was at Stanford."
"You don't stop a player like Stacey Gordon, nobody has all year, and I think every coach knows that, especially those who have to face her twice a year. We don't look at it as Tennessee plays Stacey Gordon, we look at it as Tennessee plays Ohio State, and they have a lot of other talented players besides Stacey. We just have to be aware of where she is on the court. She hits the ball in a lot of different areas. If we can stay organized and know where their hitters are, including Stacey Gordon, we'll be all right. That's what Ohio State does to you; they really make you get unorganized, so we have to stay organized in our blocking and positioning.
Tennessee junior setter Julie Knytch:
"Basically our philosophy all season has been to just take it one point at a time, and not get ahead of yourself. Play each match one game at a time, and no matter how things are going, we can't get ahead of ourselves. So far that's given us a lot of strength."
Tennessee senior outside hitter Michelle Piantadosi:
(About this season) "It's meant a lot to us, especially to Whitney (Gifford) and I being seniors. We came here with big dreams of this kind of stuff happening, and I think that we've worked really, really hard all year long to get here. This is the first time, that everything has come together, and it's a great accomplishment."
Ohio State Quotes
Ohio State Coach Jim Stone
"We're glad to still be playing. I'm not sure at the start of the year we still had visions of going this deep in the NCAA tournament. We knew we had some young kids who would be playing a lot, so we had some question marks there. But we also knew that the players returning from last year had worked very hard to try improving from last year. I knew that we'd be better, how much better I wasn't sure of. Our younger players have done an excellent job, our older players have done an excellent job, and we're happy with what has come of that so far. I'm pleased with the team we still have a pulse.
(On the team's expectations in the tournament this year): "They have expectations, they want to win. I thought we were a little nervous last week before the first match; I thought they were much better the second night. Even though we have some players that are relatively inexperienced, they still have a competitive nature."
(On how tough the Big Ten is this season): "Well, we're certainly used to playing good teams. I don't necessarily thing that that gives us an advantage over Tennessee; they're a good team. But we are certainly used to playing good teams in front of a lot of people either at home or on the road. The Big Ten has certainly prepared us for the tournament; we're not going to play anybody any better than what we've faced all year."
(On Tennessee): "I haven't watched that much film to be honest with you. From what I've seen they are taller than we are, and they present a bigger block. Not so much a bigger a block than what we are used to, but a bigger block than what we faced last weekend."
(On what other teams do to try to stop Stacey Gordon): "We've seen a lot of things. Sometimes people, especially when she was younger, would serve the ball at her. Now this year, she's receives no serves. Sometimes teams change-blocking tactics. I think that one of the reasons that this year's team has been successful is that teams have a lot more to worry about than Stacey. It's a credit to the entire team. This year when teams have completely ignored other people, we've thrived off of that."
(On being named Region Coach of the Year): "Well it's nice, but I'm sure as any coach would say, it's reflective of the team success. I wasn't coach of the year last year, but I thought I worked hard. The credit goes to the kids that are playing hard."
Ohio State senior outside hitter Stacey Gordon
(On wanting to get further in the tournament as a senior):"I remember when I was a freshman and we lost in the Sweet 16 there were seniors on my team that would say they were sick of just getting to the Sweet 16. I learned from that a lot. Now that I'm a senior, I understand where they were coming from, and of course in my last year I want to finish off strong."
(On playing against tough opposition on the season): "We've won a lot of good matches this year and played a lot of good teams, and that is because we've been consistent and everybody's done a great job of just stepping up, and we've done well with a lot of new faces. We have a lot of confidence in each other."
(On the team's turnaround from the 2003 season): "I just want to forget about last year. In August I was so excited to have half of a new team to play with. There were lines in practice, I didn't have to hit a ball and jump right back in line. I think we have a lot of character on this team. We get along on and off the court, so yeah, this year has been great."
(On other teams trying to design strategies to stop her): "I think, I really haven't had a problem with it. I know I have to be ready and create different angles for myself. I just have to capitalize on my opportunities; this year we have an offense where I don't have to do everything, so it's not that big of a problem."
Ohio State's sophomore right side Briana McCarthy:
"We are competitive group, we have to understand that all the teams that are left are good and be ready for that. We're just going to go out and play, and be attackers."
Georgia Tech Quotes Georgia Tech Head Coach Bond Shymansky
"We are very happy to be back in Minnesota playing the NCAA Regionals. Two years ago, we were here for first and second rounds and our team enjoyed the experience. We are playing very well right now. At the beginning of the year we loaded our schedule up with some really good teams. We struggled a little bit out of the gates, but have done a good job to get ourselves to the point where we are playing well at the right time of the year."
(On what kind of style Georgia Tech plays): "Our style is different from Minnesota's on offense. We run a very quick offense. It takes a lot of timing, and it is a high-risk offense. Our players have done a good job at embracing the system and enjoy running it a great deal."
(On his relationship with Mike Hebert): "Mike (Hebert) has always been a coach I could rely on for advice throughout my career. He not only helped me get my head-coaching job at Georgia Tech, but he has helped me since I started coaching as an assistant. I used to come to Minnesota to help out at camps, and through that experience I got to know him and the coaching staff very well. The good thing about Mike is he has always been willing to answer a question or give me advice. That is what makes him a great coach and person. A lot of coaches can be good at what they do, but to be as good a coach as Mike is and be so willing to help others learn is something special."
"I am looking forward to our matchup with Minnesota. They are a very good team, and are very tough. However, I like the group that I am coaching coming into this NCAA Regional. This is a fun team to coach and they play for each other, which is important. We are playing very well right now, and we are looking forward to playing Minnesota tomorrow."
Georgia Tech senior middle blocker Jayme Gergen
"We are very excited to be playing this regional in Minnesota. We were here two years ago and enjoyed the experience. It is a great building to play volleyball in, the fans are loud and even though we did not come out on the right end of the match with Minnesota in 2002 it was a still a fun style of team to play against."
"We run a very quick offense. It takes precise timing for it to work. However, we have gotten use to the offense and what it takes to run it. I think it works real well for our team. We have some players who respond very well to the offense. With myself being a 6-0 middle blocker and Lynette (Moster) being a 5-10 outside hitter the speed really helps us execute to neutralize any size advantage an opponent has on us."
Georgia Tech senior outside hitter Lynette Moster
"We are excited to play in the NCAA Regionals. We run a very quick offense that requires good execution. It is always fun to play teams at this level and use our speed offense against them. It is a tough challenge, but it is exciting to try to execute the offense against some of the best team's in the nation. We are excited about facing that challenge tomorrow against a good Minnesota team."
(On head coach Bond Shymansky's demeanor with the team): "Bond is not someone who yells at us a lot in practice. He is a coach who likes to lie out a challenge for the team. He usually watches how the team responds to the challenge, and then raises the bar. It is a fun style to play for. He knows he does not need to yell at us much, because we are always trying accomplish our goals and make sure he can continue to raise the bar for us."
Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert "This is a very sound field. There is not a weak team in the bunch. I think I mentioned this earlier. One of the things that strikes me about this field is all four teams seem to be playing to their potential. Not much left for any of the teams to improve. Everyone has the right pieces to play the system they in, and there is not a whole lot of wasted energy or wasted space out there. That is a testimony to the coaches who have trained these teams. All of them are very impressive. The seeds are just numbers, any team has a shot of winning this region."
"Georgia Tech relies on a high-risk, fast offensive system. If they pass the ball well to their setter and stay in system in their offense they are very difficult to cope with and can beat anybody. We have to serve well and create problems in their passing game to slow down their attack."
"It is always better to play at home in the NCAA Tournament. We have finals coming up as do most of the other teams in the tournament. If you can be at home where you are used to everything it is much better then being off in a hotel away from home somewhere. However, nobody gets to this level by being a bad road team. All three of the other teams have been through this before. We played Georgia Tech in the second round in 2002. I think five of their starting seven from that team are seniors now. Five of those players were in that match."
Minnesota senior setter Lindsey Taatjes
(On being at this point and getting to play at home): "It is exciting to play at home and like Mike said it makes things a lot easier academically. However, all the teams here are going to be great so it will be a tough weekend."
(On having the home crowd): "It is nice to have the home crowd behind you. Last year we played in front of a loud opposing crowd going against us. It will be nice to have that on our side. Sometimes the crowd helps pull you up when you are struggling, so it will be good to have our fans behind us this week."
Minnesota senior outside hitter Erin Martin (On being at this point and getting to play at home): I think we really have been looking forward to this weekend all season. When we found out we would host regionals earlier this year, it was a goal to make sure we would be playing in them. It is a tribute to our hard work to get back to here and be able to play the regional here. It is like a reward to be able to play here in front of our home fans."
(On the coverage the regionals have received in the area): "A lot more people have approached us in class and wished us good luck this week. It is nice, because we do not always get that during the season. We have been getting a lot of coverage, and we have sold a lot of tickets. So it is exciting."
(On Georgia Tech's style): "It is definitely different then anything we see in the Big Ten, but we have been working on it all week. It has been nice to have four days of practice at home this week. It is good to have that time to prepare. The coaches said we improve greatly throughout the week. A lot of it is trying to keep them out of rhythm."