Check out the transcript from Tuesday’s Penn State women’s volleyball media availability featuring head coach Russ Rose and junior libero Kendall White.
Coach Rose on Rutgers:
“One of the games was a deuce score game where Rutgers was playing well and had opportunities to win the game. I was happy that we were able to battle against a Big Ten opponent both home and away, with players who were playing hard and taking quality swings and doing the things that they do well.
“They haven’t won a conference match yet this year, but I think all of the teams that are going to be playing Rutgers are going to do what like we did and that is recognize that you’re going to have to play well to win. I was pleased that we were able to do that. Every match is different. All the different teams you play present different challenges. I’m glad we were able to get through those two matches. Now we have to focus on both Indiana and Purdue again.”
Coach Rose on the freshmen:
“We’ve had some flashes of really solid play from most of the ones who are playing and we’ve also had some expected dips in performance that I think are what you would anticipate with youngsters who are entering the time of the season right now where high school seasons around the country are entering their state playoffs and championships.
“Some of them, their biological clocks are reaching the point where they’re tired. Certainly we spent a lot of time at the beginning of the year on the road and I think that kind of stressed some of them out with the academic load. We’ve had different players play really well. We haven’t had a lot of matches where everybody’s played well, and certainly we haven’t had any matches where all of the freshmen played well.
“I’m confident if they don’t play well it’s not because they don’t care. It’s because it’s a challenge. The Big Ten is a really challenging conference and all of the teams that you play against are good. All of them are well coached. All of them are well funded. There are no givens anymore. You really need to be ready to play both home and away. That’s what our charge is every day in practice, to try and get their attention. We practiced yesterday and it was really bad, but I also think — not that in the old days we didn’t bus everywhere — but it was a long trip. You go there and you play and you get back at 1 or 1:30 in the morning.”
Coach Rose on who doesn’t get the respect they deserve:
“I think [Bryanna Weiskircher] has been playing really well. I think Jonni [Parker] has really played well. To get recognized nationally, you have to have some numbers that are off the chart. We don’t have very many people who have numbers off the chart.
“This team doesn’t seem to have that potential to do some of the things that some of the teams we’ve had in the past did that were hitting .400 and players were going off and hitting .700 or .800. It’s a team effort and sometimes we look like we’re a pretty organized group and other times that doesn’t happen.”
Coach Rose on the first 20 matches:
“I think we can certainly assess potential and performance and I think we’ve had some really good matches where we competed well against some really good teams. We’ve had some matches where we’ve struggled a bit. There are only two teams nationally that are still undefeated, so those teams seem to be a little ahead of the curve.
“Certainly we saw Stanford, who I voted as the No. 1 team in the country this past week. I think Stanford is a cut above the rest. I think there are a lot of really good teams in our conference and there are some really good teams around the country. We’ve played some of them and we’ll play more of them as the rest of the schedule goes on.
“At the end of the Big Ten season, we’ll have certainly played enough good teams to know our strengths and weaknesses. I think we do some things that are a challenge for other teams and I think there are a number of things that other teams do that are a challenge for our young group.
“We’re ranked higher than I think we are. I haven’t ranked us as high as we’ve been ranked all year long, but I understand certainly when some teams lose and other teams win, you move up and that’s part of the equation. I don’t have us as the No. 4 team in the country at this point in time.”
Coach Rose on the back row:
“I think Jenna [Hampton] plays really hard and that’s what I saw when I recruited her. There are some certain things that she can pick up from Kendall [White], because Kendall plays really hard. I think the two of them playing together provides us with three rotations where our defense is really strong.
“It also helps when Gabby [Blossom] goes in, because I think Gabby is another one who plays really hard defensively. Gabby came in against Rutgers and served an ace on game point in the deuce game. All of the players have opportunities to go in and play. This past weekend a couple kids were sick and dinged up and that was the reason why they didn’t get a chance to come in and play.”
Coach Rose on Kendall White:
“I think Kendall has been everything I thought she would be when she came in. She always plays hard. She’s the person who no matter what I say, it’s the perfect thing, I could be mad at the other 14 players and take it out on her and she looks me right in the eyes and takes it. That’s why I’m a big fan.
“She’s a tough kid. She bounces back if she has a subpar performance. If she doesn’t play well, she knows it and she gets in the gym to try and rectify it. She’s been as good as any libero we’ve seen this year.”
Kendall White on the team’s potential:
“I wouldn’t say peaking because obviously we haven’t won anything yet. A game’s a game, yeah. But we haven’t a national championship and that’s our goal. We do have a lot of potential and we’re getting better every week. With such a young team, that’s all you really can do is go up from where you started.”
Kendall White on Jenna Hampton:
“She’s impressed me kind of how all the other freshmen have — coming in and wanting to work hard. That’s the No. 1 thing you need when you come into this gym and when you come to Penn State, because we want to win so much. Her coming in and making plays, it’s her job. It’s what we’re supposed to do. I think that being a freshman has nothing to do with it. I think she’s a good player period.”
Kendall White on the team being more consistent:
“Yeah, we have been more consistent, but that comes with getting to know each other and learning about each other. Playing progressively throughout the season, you get that bond with your teammates. You know what you can do. That just comes from working hard every day in the South Gym.”
Kendall White on her first impression of Jonni Parker in club volleyball:
“The first impression I had of Jonni was that she was very quiet. I wasn’t really ready for that, but she was still a baby then. She was like 15 when I first met her. She’s definitely come out of her shell since then. She’s still quiet off the court, but now she’s very loud and boisterous on the court. I love her to death. I couldn’t say a bad thing about her.”
Kendall White on Jonni Parker’s jump serve:
“It’s dangerous for both sides. When she misses it, she’ll give us concussions or something. When it’s in, it’s definitely lethal. It’s a good serve. I’ve known her for a while, so I’ve kind of got her on lock and key, but when she serves to other people I think it’s awesome.”
Kendall White on what the team needs to work on:
“The biggest thing we need to work on would probably be just making fewer errors. Sometimes we’ll be on a roll and it’ll be great, then we’ll just have some type of unforced error and there’s no need for it.”
Kendall White on the story behind wearing No. 3:
“I love No. 10. My dad was No. 10 in college and I was No. 10 my whole life. Coming here, I was like, ‘Can I wear No. 10?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ But they forgot that one of the seniors (Carley Muller) had No. 10. When I came in, I was like, ‘I don’t care. Give me whatever.’ I like it now. My little sister, Payton, and I have the same number. She plays at Auburn.”