bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the two matches last week?
Mike Jordan: Yeah, Nevada and Utah State both have good teams. Nevada had been playing and they played good 'D'. We started slowly defensively. I think it was 7-2 and we hadn't dug a ball yet in the first set and then finally we got our act together and started playing hard defensively and when we do that we're pretty tough to beat. We've just got to find a way to do that more consistently and stop dropping sets because we're not playing both ends of the floor. I want them to be solid offensively but you've got to play 'D' too and hopefully we're learning that lesson.
Utah State does a lot of good things and they've got a solid team. They're struggling a little bit offensively at times. But to go on the road and get two wins, we're pretty happy with that.
bc.net: Those two wins were real big for your club having come off of the "hell week" playing three matches in four nights and to not give up the separation that you had earned from those three wins was really big.
MJ: Yeah. To get some separation between us and third pace is really good and to keep pace with Hawai'i and gives us a chance to go there and if we can pull off a small miracle and maybe get a share of the regular season title like we did in 2008.
bc.net: The rematch against Hawai'i is on Sunday, other than better blocking by your team, what are a few of the keys to that match for the Aggies?
MJ: We need to do a lot differently than the first time. First and foremost we need to block and defend way better, we need to serve much tougher. We've got to be a team that competes well when the other team goes on a little run and we weren't that team a month ago. Hopefully we've made progress and we've closed the gap a title bit. Getting a win, it's a longshot and I understand that but I think it's important that our players realize that a month ago, that doesn't have any bearing on what happens in this match. It's who plays best that night. Not who's the higher ranked team or who has more talent. We can't control any of that stuff. We can just control how we play and how we compete and I didn't think we competed very well the last time we played them. Once they jumped out to a lead, it was 15-15 in set one, then they go out in a little run and we folded. Hopefully we'll be a little bit mentally tougher than a month ago and a little bit better skilled and we'll keep competing when Hawai'i goes on a run.
bc.net: The past five matches that you just played, your team showed a lot more of that mental toughness, especially that Idaho match where you went down 0-2 and came back and won that match and the Nevada match where you didn't play your best ball but still were able to come out with a win.
MJ: I think there's an element of toughness. We're a little tougher than we were a month ago. I think we're a little more settled on a lineup which helps but I think more than anything the concern for us is our inconsistency, especially on the defensive side. We've got to put forth a better effort blocking and defending. When we don't do those things like in the Idaho match and the first set against Nevada, when we don't block and defend real well, when we miss assignments and seem almost lazy defensively, we're very beatable. But when we turn it up a notch and everybody commits themselves to being a better defender and working harder defensively then we're tough to beat. It's Jekyll and Hyde and I know it's Halloween but I'd prefer we pick one personality and stick with it.
bc.net: You're getting a lot of contributions from your freshmen and coaches talk a lot about there being a point in the season where your freshmen are no longer freshmen. Have your freshmen reached that point?
MJ: No we haven't. Rocio is as close to that as anyone, Rocio is making more plays now and I think really understands what we're doing a lot better than she did a while back. The others kind of still have a long way to go but that's something we talk to them about. "Hey, it's time that some of these silly mistakes or missed assignments go away." We're trying to get them to watch a little more video and think about their assignments and what they're supposed to be doing out there outside of practice as well and hopefully that will help them. But they still all have a ways to go for sure. There's a lot of talent and they're contributing but we'd like to see them play more consistently obviously.