Quotes from Pre-Washington Match Press Conference

Penn State Quotes

Coach Rose on What Penn State Needs to do to Win

Question: Without giving away State Secrets, what do you have to do against Washington — you’re both from the best leagues in the country, so you’ve played everybody, so you know it will be tough.  What do you think you guys have to do tomorrow?

Russ Rose: There aren’t any real secrets when it comes to what other teams have to do, whether it’s our match or any of the other matches taking place tomorrow.  You need to perform well in the serve-pass game.  And you need to be able to identify and respond to what the other team’s game plan is.  But it always starts with serving and passing. 

Certainly, just watching some of the film on Washington since last week when we knew who we were going to play, I thought they had a great serving/blocking match against Creighton [and against] Saint Mary’s.  They play in a great league and they’ve played  a lot of matches against some of the top teams in the country.

Coach Rose on the Freshmen Managing the Demands of the Season

Question: Coach, both teams have a number of underclassmen — your team has a number of freshmen.  You’ve talked about how freshmen can hit a “wall” in November.  This team doesn’t seem to have had that happen.  How would you describe the way they’ve managed the season?

Russ Rose: I think there were some times in late October and November where I thought they were pretty beat-up and distracted, and we had some matches that reflected that.  Now that it’s December, we’re hoping that they can recalibrate and get the energy necessary.  Certainly, with the freshmen, they don’t know the stuff they just don’t know.  So they don’t have any experience in certain areas they can look back on and say “Oh, I remember how we did this match.” 

Playing last weekend at home was a little bit easier, just because they’re so familiar playing at home.  There’s some familiarity coming back and playing out here [in Palo Alto], but as you recognized coming out here, it’s a task to get out here.  It’s not “Click your heels” and all of a sudden you’re in Palo Alto when you started the day in State College.  

Coach Rose On Being the Only Non- Pac-12 Team in the Stanford Regional

Question: Considering you’re the only team out here not from the Pac-12, and how well all the players and coaches know one another amongst the Pac-12, do you consider yourself at a disadvantage at all?

Russ Rose: Well, I’d be at a bigger disadvantage if I thought it was the three of them gaining up on us. [Audience laughs].  But I think we see a lot of that in our own conference, so I think all of [those three teams] probably have spent less time looking at their opponent than maybe looking at us.  Stanford — we played them earlier in the year and we’ve played them every year for maybe the last six or eight years, so we do have some familiarity with each other.  I think certainly the advantage that Washington and Washington State have of playing here is that they’ve played here a lot.  The one thing that’s not a great advantage is they don’t have a lot of experience winning here.  It’s a tough place to win for visiting teams.  Stanford  has been very good.  For as long as we’ve played here they’ve been very good.  

Bryanna Weiskircher

Bryanna Weiskircher On the Growth of the Team

Question: What did you sense between the beginning of the season and now that you guys needed to do to grow as a team and to be back in this position?

Bryanna Weiskircher: Obviously there was going to be a lot of growth because, like everyone said, we do have such a young team.  We had eight freshmen and ten newcomers in total.  I think that yes, at the beginning of the year we were a little bit crazy — people didn’t really know what was going on — it was kind of “Hey, go hit this ball and we’ll progress through the season.”  So far, all the freshmen and the new people have done a great job adjusting to our system and understanding scouting reports and things that everyone needs to do.  I’m pretty proud of how far we’ve gone, but it will be interesting to see how far the freshmen go four years from now.  

Taylor Leath on Her Experience at Penn State

Question: Taylor, you spent four years at North Carolina.  Here’s your fifth year at Penn State — in a way, a homecoming, since you grew up in State College.  Tell me about that journey.

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Taylor Leath

Taylor Leath: It’s been great.  I always say I loved my experience at UNC.  I’ll forever be a Tar heel, I graduated from there, I was there for four years.  But I had the opportunity to come here to Penn State and really challenge myself, and get into this different culture, this different way of playing the game.  And honestly, I’ve loved it.  It’s been such a privilege.  It’s been a great experience, and I want to continue to have as much time as possible with these girls, working hard and competing day-in and day-out in order to prolong our season as much as possible.  

Kendall White on How This Penn State Team Differs from Other Teams She’s Been On

Kendall White

Question: Kendall, you’ve had, I think, 100 straight starts for Penn State.  Talk about how this team was different than some of the previous teams you’ve been on and what the personality of this team is.

Kendall White: I think every team is different, no matter what team you’re on, no matter what school you’re going to.  But team, obviously they’re younger, so a few older girls who do play, we have to take leadership roles — all of us — and tell [the younger players] what they don’t know.  Like [Coach Rose] was saying, they just don’t know what they don’t know.  And so we have to fill in those blanks for them.  Talk to them a bunch on the court or off the court.  It’s like every day in practice, there’s a teaching moment.  There’s not one practice we go through where they can’t learn something new or we can’t learn something new — because they can still teach us things.  And I think the beauty of this team is that we have a very good dynamic, where it doesn’t bother us when we have players teaching players.  We benefit from learning from each other.  And its really cohesive and it’s a great unit.

Coach Rose on Whether He Thinks More About His 1271 Wins or About His 205 Losses

Question: Coach, what do you think about more — your 1271 wins or your 205 losses?  

Russ Rose: I would say I know a lot more of my losses.  Somebody made a thing last week that it was the 100th [NCAA Tournament] win [for Russ Rose at Penn State.]  I said “I think I’m also leading in losses.”  So that kind of balances out before you start patting yourself on the back.  I’ve probably lost more NCAA matches than anybody.  

The window to try and do things with teams are on the calendar.  A lot of times there are a lot of factors that play into whether you’re going to be successful or not — whether you’re healthy, whether or not they’re tough, whether or not the schedule is favorable.  There’s all sorts of factors.  But I would say I would have an easier time talking about losses than about wins.

Kendall White, Taylor Leath and Coach Rose on How This Team Has Changed from When Penn State Played Stanford at the Beginning of the Season

Question: Do you feel like this is a different team now than the last time you guys were here?

Kendall White: Oh, 100%.  Every team is different, and coming here every year, it’s always going to be different.  I don’t think you can just expect it to be the same.  We have to approach it differently.  Our girls are different personalities, different physical capabilities, different mental capabilities.  Coming here, you have to use your strengths, you have to use what your team has in order to beat [your opponent] and I think we can do that.

Taylor  Leath: I don’t think it’s a completely different team.  I think everyone is more grown up.  They’ve had a long season, we played Stanford in preseason, so we had the same pieces, but were continually shifting them around and things like that.  I think every individual player has learned more, like Bryanna said, about our system and the way that we play and the culture here.  So it’s not a different team, but it’s definitely a more refined and matured version of the first team that we had.  I think you can see our progress through the season for sure.

Coach Rose: We’re playing Washington [on Friday] but I wasn’t disappointed with how we played against Stanford.  I thought Stanford was better than we were, and not necessarily surprised, just because of the experience factors and the personnel they had returning and being at home.  But I thought we competed pretty well and did some things well, and for us, with the number of young people that we have, I was actually pretty pleased about [how we played.]  I was more disappointed in how we were in the practice I just left than I was the last time we played.  We played Oregon the next day and beat Oregon 3-0, which I knew then was a really good win because they had beaten Minnesota the night before, who was #1 in the country.  So we knew that we were capable of playing at a high level and we also knew that with young people, that sometimes they can get jammed up, and be slow to respond to change.  Sometimes, when people get knocked down it takes time for them to pick themselves up.  Sometimes I think the best competitors have the ability to get up really quick.

Coach Cook Quote

On the Challenge of Playing Great Teams in Tough Environments

Question: You’ve been quoted as saying that you’ve played Big Ten teams several times over the last six years, and in a couple of those matches, your teams didn’t “show up.”  Anything about Big Ten teams?

Coach Cook: I think it’s great teams and tough environments.  A match against Nebraska a couple of years ago — great team, I think it might have been the eventual national champion that year.  And then maybe 2013 — my first year at Washington, we played a great Penn State team in Seattle.  I don’t know if it’s anything other than you’re playing great teams the last two weekends.  The margins are pretty thin.  But if one team doesn’t show up, it can get ugly in a hurry.  Any team can make any team look bad at this level.  If you don’t come with an edge, ready to go, it can be gone, quickly.  We’ve been talking about it this week — it’s part of our story and my story as a coach, and trying to learn from that and have a different outcome.