bleedCrimson.net will be conducting weekly interviews with Aggie head volleyball coach Mike Jordan during the 2008 season. This week we talked about the matches against Idaho and Hawai'i, the road trip to San Jose and Logan and the Krista Altermatt's outstanding play.
bleedCrimson.net: Talk a little bit about your match against Idaho, it was one of the more dominating performances of the season.
Mike Jordan: Well, we played well. We passed the ball real well. I think Idaho's one of the tougher places to play on the road. Any time you can go get a convincing road win you feel pretty good about it. We had pretty good performances all around and competed very well.
bc.net: You were able to hold Haley Larsen to just nine kills on the evening, talk a little bit about that.
MJ: She's obviously a pretty good player and we worked pretty hard at stopping her or slowing her down anyway. We did a pretty good job of it. But she's still a key member of her team and she did well at times.
bc.net: Talk a little bit about the Hawai'i match. Offensively you had the best match that you've had against them since joining the WAC. Looking at the box score, the numbers are pretty even. The biggest thing that stands out is that they got 20 more swings than you did.
MJ: Well sometimes stats are deceiving. You get credit for an attempt and a kill, if we pass the ball over the net and you jump up and dunk it, it looks like a block for a lot of people but it's actually an offensive attack and so you get a kill. One of their middles had like four of those. So yeah they had more attempts and kills but a lot of those were our bad passing at times. We weren't as good a serve receiving team as we normally are. We gave them a lot of free kills on overpasses. You can't do that against an obviously great team like Hawai'i.
bc.net: It seemed like a point here or a point there in your favor and the match could have been a lot different.
MJ: Yeah, we were in every game. We had a swing to take the lead at 24 all in game one and we whacked over the top of the block and out of bounds. We made a bad decision on game point. In game two serve receive was a little bit of an issue. We couldn't get Amber as involved as we needed to in order to beat Hawai'i. Game three, some crazy plays. They had an ace or two that caught the tape and fell over. It seems like they got a lot of bounces. The officials missed an easy obvious touch and we had some plays that we just didn't make come crunch time. But give Hawai'i credit, they played an excellent game and they deserved to win.
bc.net: Talk a little bit about Krista Altermatt's play. She's really tearing up the league right now, 2nd in the league in hitting percentage in conference play (.429), 6th in kills per set, 6th in aces per set and 6th in points per set.
MJ: Yeah. She started slow, she wasn't in great shape to start the season but she's played her way into shape now. She's elevating better. She's really difficult to stop, she's got all the shots and she hits the ball hard and it's tough for teams to read what she's doing. She moves the ball around so well. So I'm really proud of Krista that she's playing as well as she is. But you know we expect that from a returning starter with a lot of experience. We expect her to play well, we need her to play well.
bc.net: Talk a little bit about the match with San Jose State. They've got a pair of seniors, Niki Clement and Kelly Crow, who are leading the way for them offensively.
MJ: They return a lot of players, almost their entire starting lineup from last year. A lot of good athletes, well coached. It's a small little tight gym, tough place to play. It's got a lot of people in it. We've played pretty well over there the last few times, hopefully that'll continue. It's certainly going to be a good challenge and they're a competitive group and they're preparing to win and we expect them to compete well.
bc.net: Talk a little bit about the match against Utah State on Saturday. They've got their senior Melissa Osterloh who's leading them with 200 kills which is more than double anyone else on their team. It's kind of like it's Osterloh and then everyone else.
MJ: She's a really good player. I think again, sometimes the numbers are deceiving. It's not like they set her all the time, sometimes they have to. They're pretty efficient percentage-wise with their other players. Utah State's always a threat on their home court. They're one of the better blocking teams in the conference. I would expect them to come out and play hard. Obviously they showed they can play well, they beat #15 Purdue.
bc.net: The team seems to be hitting its offensive stride the past few games.
MJ: Our right side players are a lot better. They're just making progress, they get a little bit better every week. With their performance it's showing that we're a tough team to figure out who we're going to set. We don't have one person that takes way more swings than everybody else. We're pretty willing to spread the ball all over the floor. But the key is the players have to execute and they've gotta get those kills in those one-on-one situations. And we're starting to do that a little more often. We're starting to feel more comfortable.
I think our setters are doing a better job as time goes on of set location and tempo. When you've got three setters who are playing alot, three completely different types of setters, you've got to work hard that they all set the ball at the same tempo and it's not easy to do. But it's all starting to come a little bit more which is helping the hitters quite a bit too.
bc.net: Is the team starting to feel more comfortable with each other now? You've got a few new faces who are getting more playing time.
MJ: Yeah, I think so. We're pretty settled in our lineup but at the same time I've got a couple players that are really competing for time. Whitney Phillips, Kelsey Brennan and Brynja Rodgers obviously are all solid players and getting better all the time. I feel confident whenever we put them in that they're going to do a