Check out the transcript from Tuesday’s Penn State women’s volleyball media availability featuring quotes from head coach Russ Rose and freshman middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord.
Coach Rose on the Nebraska and Iowa matches:
“I thought it was a good effort. I think the players were down on how they played against Purdue at home. I thought they were really disappointed with their effort and how they finished that match. I didn’t think we played great or inspired volleyball even though we were up 2-1 at Nebraska. The younger players, that’s their first experience playing in front of such a large crowd. Even some of the older, veteran players I didn’t think played great, but Nebraska’s a really tough opponent.
“Both matches with Nebraska went five games. The teams are evenly matched even though I don’t think either team is playing the level of volleyball that we were playing at a year ago for sure. It was a match I thought we could have played better in. I’m disappointed in a number of things. The Big Ten is a really tough conference. I thought we bounced back and played well the next day. We didn’t get to Iowa until really late. I know the kids were really emotionally down with how we ended the match with Nebraska.
“Iowa’s a team that beat Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago at home, has some really talented players, and is a program on the rise. I thought we handled the ball really well and won a good match for us. I thought the middles played really well. I thought we just played a lot better the next night than we did the night before, but there are a lot of factors that play into that with young kids. Part of being a veteran player is being able to play well all the time. That’s kind of one of the challenges I think we bump into.”
Coach Rose continued:
“Every opponent can beat you. I think part of the understanding is that a lot of times you beat yourself. We had 14 service errors against Nebraska. If you’re going to have 14 service errors, you’re almost single-handedly giving them a one-game advantage. There was no real reason for that sort of effort other than just some young kids and even some veteran players – it’s just when it happens it happens and there’s no real explanation. As coaches, you just kind of sit there and you’re befuddled by it. You move on to the next match. I think the top teams are the ones that seem to find solutions.
“Whatever number of times we’ve won the conference before, that’s the number of times we had teams that were able to figure out the formula for being mentally tough, physically durable, and capable of handling the challenges and the demands of the conference and the other teams. The years that we haven’t done it doesn’t mean that we’re failures, it just means other people have done it better.”
Coach Rose on Allyson Cathey’s development:
“I think Allyson has good potential. I think Allyson needs to get it together. That’s probably not much different than a lot of other people. She’s young but I think she’s a physical player and she has good potential. I don’t think she pays attention to the right things all the time. That gets in the way of her progress and gets in the way of me having much confidence in her progress.”
Coach Rose on Northwestern:
“Northwestern has won four out of their last six matches, so they’re playing much better. The match this year is reopening Welsh-Ryan Arena, which has gone under a great renovation project. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of excitement associated with them getting back in their home facility after having to play at Evanston High School for the last year and a half. They have a number of young players, but they’ve got some really talented kids. They beat Iowa the week after Iowa beat Wisconsin. I think if our players aren’t looking at the right information, then they’ll be disappointed.”
Coach Rose on Illinois:
“I’ve been saying for the last couple years I thought Illinois was one of the top teams in the conference, and this year they’ve kind of really established themselves. I think Minnesota and Illinois are the top two teams in the conference. Jordyn Poulter’s the top setter in the conference. I think they’re strong in the middle. They’re a really good right-side blocking team. The outside hitters are juniors now. As teams get older, they get better.
“Poulter set for the USA this year and [Ali] Bastianelli’s been one of the leading blockers and hitters in the country for the last couple years. They have a transfer middle from Pacific who’s having great success and numbers. I think they’re a team that’s not only capable of finishing at the top of our conference and hosting a regional, I think it’s a team that has a legitimate shot of getting to the Final Four and matching up really well with the top teams in the country.”
Coach Rose on the team not being 100 percent healthy:
“I would say the whole year to me has just been kind of a cloudy year of health-related matters. We have never gone an extended period of time where we have a full roster of players cleared to go hard every day. It’s always been a juggling act. That’s part of life and that’s part of the experience, but it’s certainly not one of the things that I would say allows you to build momentum and confidence and a fighting spirit.
“To me, the whole year has kind of been that. It’s just what it is. You don’t get better if you’re not in the gym. You don’t get better if you’re not going hard. And you don’t get better if you’re not tough enough to do those things.”
Coach Rose on Penn State’s service errors:
“I think some of the service errors are just inexperience and nerves for some of the younger players, but when older players do it I just think it’s maybe them being careless and not responding well to pressure and not being the type of leader that you need for the rest of the team.”
Kaitlyn Hord on how she was introduced to volleyball:
“I actually started playing my freshman year of high school [when I was 14]. I was on a tour of a public high school, because I attended private school before, and we ran into the volleyball coach during my tour. It was kind of just a match made in heaven. He was like, ‘Well, you should come try out for the team.’ I was like, ‘Okay!’ It all started from there.”
Kaitlyn Hord on the Iowa sweep:
“I think Iowa was definitely a tough team to play against, but I think we were able to play more as a team and we were able to really play clean. It was a lot of fun.”
Kaitlyn Hord on the importance of avoiding errors:
“I do believe that our errors are where our losses come from, because they’re not only points for the other team but they’re also momentum shifters — where we were ahead and something bad happens and then we’re kind of in the dumps for a while.”
Kaitlyn Hord on Haleigh Washington’s advice for her:
“She came in at the beginning of September and she was a positive ball of energy like she always is. She basically just said to be aggressive every time you can. Just her being around picked up my game and it made me want to play even harder. It made me want to do different things, because just watching her was amazing to see all the different things she’s capable of.”
Kaitlyn Hord on what she’s working on in practice:
“One of the things I’m working on is mixing up my shot register, because right now I just like to bang balls. I need to mix in some tips and roll shots and all that. I’d say that’s what I’m trying to work on. Right now, I wouldn’t really say I’m the best at anything.”