bleedCrimson.net will be conducting weekly interviews with Aggie head volleyball coach Mike Jordan during the 2008 season. In this interview Coach Jordan talks about the undefeated performance at the spring tournament this past weekend in Houston, Krista Altermatt's recovery from her season-ending injury last year and the Side Out Club Spring Picnic/Alumni Match on April 26th.
bleedCrimson.net: Can you talk a little bit about this past weekend's spring tournament, you opened up against Oklahoma in the featured match on Friday night, can you talk about that match?
Mike Jordan: I thought we played reasonably well. Oklahoma's a good team, they've been in the NCAA tournament the last couple of years. They're very well coached. They were kind of short handed, they had a couple players out with injuries. So I don't think it was as good a match as it could have been, we swept them and it was kind of a blowout in some respects. But everybody got an opportunity to play and I was pretty happy with what we did defensively. We worked real hard to make plays, took care of the easy ball. I saw a lot people flying around so from that standpoint I thought it was a good effort defensively.
On the offensive side of things, we've worked hard to make our rights more versatile. I think they were both pretty good offensively, Kelli Goodan and Whitney Woods.
bc.net: On Saturday you had a full slate, can you talk about the matches you played?
MJ: Ashlee Hardee [Assistant Coach] and I actually stayed at the Reliant Center where the Lone Star tournament, the big recruiting tournament was going on. We had a lot of recruiting to do. Stevie [Adams] coached the team all day. I think any time you can go undefeated, obviously you're playing at a pretty good level. The goal for us though isn't winning spring matches. This team is already pretty confident. We don't need to learn how to win so to speak, we do a lot of that. What we need is a good test physically to see where we're at. I think from what Stevie's told me and what I've seen so far, we did a pretty good job of competing, especially when the score wasn't in our favor. The Texas match in particular, both of the first two games we were down early and fought back. We made game one real close, I think we lost it 29-27 after being down 7-1 to start the game. Same thing in game two we were down 5-2 and came back and won 25-23 or 25-22 and then win it in three 15-10. I thought we did a good job of competing when we were down.
That's something that really can't be underestimated. I think a lot of players emotionally are into the match when they're doing well, when the score is positive in their favor. But how are you competing when you're getting your butt kicked, how are you competing when you're on the wrong side of the score. From everything I've heard and seen so far it was real positive that way.
bc.net: Obviously the competition was very good and even though it was a spring tournament, what does it do for your team psychologically, losing the seniors that you lost, moving ahead.
MJ: We've really tried to established our rights offensively. Woods couldn't play until the very tail end of last year, the last few matches. Kelli Goodan was a role player she had a real limited role in our system last year. When you're going to compensate for a loss of someone like Kim Oguh, everybody else has to take on a bigger role. In particular we want those two kids to take a bigger role. I think that's starting to happen. We're certainly gaining a lot of confidence in the two of them offensively. we're setting them a lot of balls right now and they're coming through. I've seen a lot of progress.
You've also got to remember that you've got players that are returning, Lindsey Yon, Krista Altermatt and Amber Simpson in particular that played a lot last year. What you want to see from them is an improvement in their weaknesses. I think for Lindsey, she just started practicing again after sitting out with the eye surgery. We've got a lot of work to do in the next few weeks in terms of her attack selection. She competed hard over the weekend and did a lot of nice things for us.
Krista's got to become a better defender, give us a better effort there. I think we're starting to see that the last few weeks from her. I got a really good report about her effort defensively over the weekend.
The returning players are making adjustments to their game, we're getting more people involved and we're going to be tougher to defend.
bc.net: Can you talk a little bit about Krista, she had the injury in the Hawai'i match in the conference tournament, for a player that has an injury like that and to get back into competition, how do you think she's handled it, with the possibility of re-injuring herself maybe being in the back of her mind?
MJ: She was fine when we started individuals back in January. She's done very well. It was really just a very very bad sprain. She broke her ankle in her senior year in high school so any time she rolls an ankle she's a little bit more sensitive to it, understandably so, than some. But physically she's fine, I don't really see any long lasting effects from that injury. She's moving around the floor better than she every has, she getting in better shape than she's ever been. She actually sprained the same ankle two weeks ago and was back on the floor doing some stuff again in about three or four days. I think Krista's toughening up a little bit and she's fine.
bc.net: Going into a tournament like this and going undefeated, what does that do for your recruiting?
MJ: I think when you play in an area like Houston, typically there are a lot of people who are going to come out and see you who haven't seen you play before. They may have heard about you and heard you're pretty good but then they get to see you in person, it obviously helps. It just gives you a little more credibility.
We recruit a lot out of the Texas area, this tournament going on the same time across town from one of the biggest qualifiers of the season for high school players allows a lot of players to come over and check us out. I think it obviously helps.
I think it's also great, we've got a lot of Aggie alums, fans and former players down in Texas that were able to come out and see us play. It's nice to reach out a little bit and take the show on the road.
bc.net: What is your schedule for the remainder of the spring? Was this your final tournament?
MJ: We get four competition dates, Arizona was one of them and this one used two with Oklahoma on Friday night and the tournament on Saturday. We've got one left, we're going to play an Alumni game on the 26th of April. We've got a lot of recent alums that are going to play in that. I expect it to be good competition. You're going to see Jackie Choi and Kim Oguh and Alice Borden and Stevie Adams, a lot of these guys from the last few years playing in this team. They're competitive people, they wanna win. They're all real talented physically and still in pretty good shape so I think it'll be a pretty good test. We're going to do it the same day as our Side Out Club spring picnic. We want a lot of new fans to come out and sign up for the Side Out Club and all of our Side Out Club members to renew.
bc.net: What time is the picnic and game planned?
MJ: We're looking at probably a noon picnic with the game to follow right after that. We haven't set the official time yet but probably a 2:00 p.m. start time.