Russ Rose held his regular Tuesday media availability outside Rec Hall this afternoon after enjoying a newspaper on his honorary alumnus bench. Junior libero Kendall White and freshman right side Jonni Parker also spoke to the media before practice in the main gym.
Coach Rose on freshman class’ communication:
“I think that would be one of the areas one would hope to establish some development. The on-court communication is picking up, so yeah I think it’s really important. That’s always an area that you need to address in any sort of transition, whether we’re talking sports or the workforce. When somebody new gets into something, they don’t know what they don’t know. It’s up to the older players to try and provide them with some guidance and help them out along the way.”
Coach Rose on Bayleigh Hoffman’s contributions:
“Bayleigh’s a more mature player, having played the game a little bit longer. I think because she was a sand player that she’s probably a little more comfortable with the serving-passing part of the game, because when you play doubles, you’re not as dependent on everybody else, you’re not serving 16 percent of the time. You’re serving every other time.
“She played with Roberta [Holehouse], who was one of our former players, and Roberta was not only a good player, but Roberta’s a successful coach. I think Roberta probably gave her some tips on, if she was going to come here and try and play, some things that would be helpful. She’s not a very physical kid and I think that she’ll still have some challenges associated with how physical the Big Ten is, and certainly we’ll see that this weekend as we up the level of competition by playing Stanford and Oregon.”
Coach Rose on Stanford:
“They started the season ranked No. 1 in the country and they return four All-Americans. They lost a match last week at BYU in five games, and there’s a lot of coaches, me included, that have never won at BYU. BYU’s a really good program and traditionally a very tough place to win. I would still think Stanford is the favorite to be competing for the national championship at the end of the year. They’ve got five returning starters plus their first-team All-American libero returning. They have all the ingredients to remain the top team in the country.
“We play them every year. The difference last year to this year is we graduated our four All-Americans and we’re going in there with a bunch of young kids. I think the young kids will have a good opportunity to see what one of the top teams in the country looks like. It’ll prepare us for once we play many of the other top teams in the country. It’s the physical style. It’s the level of confidence that they have.”
Coach Rose on Amanda Phegley:
“There was a time where I was considering redshirting Amanda. A couple kids I didn’t think were working hard enough and a couple kids were dinged up. I think we need a little more offense and Amanda’s kind of like instant offense. She’s got a great arm. She’s certainly one of our hardest hitters. The best way for her to know that she’s going to have to play is to throw her in there. She’ll have a chance to work herself into the rotation and get more opportunity to play.”
Coach Rose on some areas that could be improved:
“We’re making way more service errors than we made last year. We’re averaging about three service errors a game, and that’s an awful lot for a team that’s not generating a lot of aces. That’s a big concern that I have. We graduated 95 percent of our offense, so that just sums it up. For the players, we’re going to have to find ways to generate those points once we get into the part of our schedule where it’s going to be noticeable that we don’t have that same kind of point-scoring potential that we had.
“If you’re telling the kids to be aggressive, there’s also the down side of that. Being aggressive can result in more errors. We’ll see. It’s a long season. We’ve only played a couple of weekends. I think a couple of the kids are making progress…Part of the college experience is sometimes people put a little more on your plate than you had hoped. They’re going to have to step up and see what they can do.”
Coach Rose on Serena Gray and Kaitlyn Hord:
“I think they’ll have a really stiff challenge this weekend. First off, it’ll be our first matches on the road, and that’s always a big challenge. Stanford has some great talent. [Audriana] Fitzmorris was an All-American middle blocker and now she’s playing right side. [Kathryn] Plummer was last year’s national player of the year, and if we were doing a draft pick for the top outside hitter one would probably take Plummer. If we were doing a draft pick for the top right side player, one would take Plummer. She’s an incredible talent.
“Serena has a little more natural strength than Kaitlyn, but I think Kaitlyn has battled well. I think she’s got a pretty good head on her shoulders and has good disposition. I look forward to seeing how the girls handle playing on the road against a couple of great teams from the Pac-12.”
Kendall White on what quality has contributed to her success:
“I would say I’m kind of crazy. That’s the best part of my game, at least coach says he likes that about me. I’m a little wild. You have to be a little bit crazy to play defense. Wanting to get hit in the face all the time is kind of the name of the game.”
Kendall White on Stanford and Oregon:
“I’m expecting to have a very tough game. It’s going to be a lot different kind of volleyball for us. Stanford’s a really big team. They’re big and slow. We also have a pretty large team this year, and it’s going to be interesting to see that matchup with such similar offenses. It’s probably going to come down to team chemistry and defense. Oregon’s a little bit faster. I think it’s all going to come down to heart with both teams, because we’re very similar. I think that if we play hard we’ll win.”
Kendall White on the team elevating its game for big matches:
“We live for that. We have Penn State on our backs. That’s why we came here. We came here to win a national championship. We came here to win always. Playing up to that level is what we need to do all the time. Sometimes it’s hard when we play worse teams, honestly, because we don’t want to play down to levels or anything like that. I think we will always go hard no matter what, no matter who it is.”
Jonni Parker on advice she’s received:
“In big matches, just don’t let up. If you make a mistake, just let it go, go on to the next play. Definitely stay aggressive, just help each other out. I’ve actually had the pleasure of playing with Kendall before [for Munciana Volleyball Club], so that’s been awesome being back row with her again. Just be yourself. Play your game. Don’t worry about anything else.”
Kendall White on what she likes about Jenna Hampton:
“She’s very aggressive, and you can’t really teach that. It’s something you kind of just have to have. Especially as a defensive player, that’s a great quality to have. The fact that we would like to tone down her aggression is awesome rather than having to bring it up, because, again, you can’t teach it. She’s awesome.”
Kendall White on Nia Reed stepping up:
“Nia is just raw talent. She’s a specimen is what we like to call her. She’s opened up tremendously. She’s in the gym all the time — working on her passing, working on shots. Growing as a leader, I think that she’s just opened up by pushing herself to incredible limits.”
Kendall White on what Taylor Leath brings to the team:
“She’s great at communicating back there when we’re in serve-receive. She’s great at calling people off balls, stealing balls. She’s a very experienced player, so having her IQ on the court is awesome — passing, hitting, no matter where it is on the court. That’s why she’s one of our captains.”
Kendall White on Bryanna Weiskircher:
“She’s done a great job. She’s stepped into the role she knows she can handle, the role she knows she can take. She’s one of our best scouters. She knows the game very well — highest IQ on the team by far. Again, she’s a great captain just like Taylor.”
Jonni Parker on Bryanna Weiskircher:
“I think she’s a great leader. She has a very calm mentality, especially when things start to get a little bit crazy. She’s definitely one player I can look to just to make sure to settle myself down. She settles the team down, too.”