FinPre-Match Quotes for Minnesota 2003 NCAA Women's Volleyball National Semifinals Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert
(Opening Statement): "It has been a very interesting road to the Final Four for us. We were ranked No. 6 in the preseason and we came out of the gate with four consecutive losses. We stumbled early on in the conference season and had some dark moments. To this team's credit, they have really engineered a courageous turnaround. We have been playing our best volleyball of the year over the past three or four weeks, which is the right time to be peaking. We had a wonderful regional experience beating Pepperdine and Washington, two quality teams. We are ready to see what we can do against the vaunted Trojans of USC.
(On what sparked the team's turnaround): "We had just lost two on the road heading into a home match against Illinois. It wasn't anything I or any of the coaches said, what happened was Cassie Busse decided it was her senior year, took the floor and said she was not going to let this happen. She started to lead the team in a way that inspired some confidence in the rest of the team. We went on to win 10 conference matches in a row and finished strong at 15-5 in the Big Ten.
(On the freedom of Paula Gentil at the libero position): "We saw her as a high-school senior in Florida and recognized her amazing ball control ability. The libero position had not been passede, but we were confident it would be. When she got to our gym we realized she could not be stuffed into a system. There are times when she will cut in front of a teammate, but that is okay in our system. I would like for her to play every ball she can."
Minnesota opposite hitter Cassie Busse (On playing No. 1 USC in the National Semfinals): We're a team that just really tries to focus on our attitude and how we're playing with and for each other. We're out there playing with our hearts. We're not playing the jerseys we see on the other side of the net. We're going out there and just focusing on playing with the heart and determination that we have."
"We're honored to be representing our school. It's not like we feel fortunate to be here; we're going to do a job. We're going to go out there against USC, and we are not going to back down because they are No. 1 in the nation. We are going to show people what we are made of."
Outside hitter Erin Martin (On how team has improved since its regular-season loss to Hawai'i): "When we played Hawai'i, we came out tight and nervous, and I don't think we knew how to handle the early expectations for our team. We had a lot of pressure on us. We just decided as the season went on that we were going to go out there have fun, play our game and enjoy ourselves. It wasn't going to be about rankings or winning championships, and I think that has gotten us to where we are not."
Libero Paula Gentil (On playing in the program's first Final Four): "It is all that we've worked for. We have worked so hard to make it and we are very fortunate. It is a very special feeling to have made it to this point in the tournament."