bleedCrimson.net: You picked up win number 300 this past weekend, a milestone win, it shows the longevity and the success that you've had in your career.
Mike Jordan: It's nice, I don't think it's really that big a deal myself but it does make me reflect a little bit on all the players that have played here and especially the first few years when we were rebuilding. That first team, we only won seven matches the first year. We weren't very good but those guys worked so hard at getting better and making the program better. It just makes you reflect a little bit. The other thing it does is it makes you reflect on all those coaches who have been in it for so long, like [Dave] Shoji for instance. He's got over 1,000 wins and has been coaching for 30-some years. It's so impressive to have that kind of longevity.
bc.net: When you took over the program you were rebuilding and that first team won seven matches, the second year you won 15 matches but since then you've won almost 75 percent of your matches. How have you been able to instill a winning mindset and a winning attitude and all of the players that you've been able to bring in have carried that over year after year?
MJ: Yeah, once we started to win more you get that winning edge. I think our players believe they're going to win. Most of the teams we've had since 2002 have been like that and that's great that your players have confidence in their ability. Not every team has had that, last year's team struggled with their confidence a lot, this year's team is getting confident I think. As we speak they're getting more confident. For years we've had players who believed in themselves and believed in their teammates and they had great leadership and they imparted that to the younger players who have carried it on. It's certainly a big part of what we've done in the past.
bc.net: This past weekend's road trip was a success with a pair of victories against Nevada and Fresno State and obviously important in your goal to win a regular season championship.
MJ: Nevada gave us fits for a while, we didn't play very good D, we blocked it well but we didn't dig very well but offensively all weekend we were very low error. We passed pretty well for the most part and hit the ball well and when we weren't passing well we didn't make errors and won our share of rallies. I was pretty happy with the way we played for the most part. It's nice to be 5-0 going into the showdown with Hawai'i and hopefully we'll continue our trend of staying low error and we'll just keep getting better.
bc.net: Stephanie Ziegler had a very good weekend with 17 kills, something which I'm sure is a welcome sight.
MJ: Yeah, she's an undersized outside hitter and she's giving us the ball control that we need most of the time. She all weekend was very low error. She only made a couple of attack errors all weekend and I think they were her getting blocked. I don't know that she hit a ball out of bounds all weekend. That's great. If you're not going to get a ton of kills, which she got a good share of kills against Nevada, but typically she's not a high kill percentage player and because of that she needs to keep the errors down and she's done that and that's made us better for sure. She had a very good weekend.
bc.net: You noted the good blocking weekend, you had 10 blocks against Nevada and 13 against Fresno State. Obviously the improved block will be important as you head into Wednesday night's match against Hawai'i, the matches you've had with them that have been really competitive you've been able to slow down their offense with your block.
MJ: We have been blocking, we've been putting up good numbers the last few matches. We're commit blocking a lot and players are doing a pretty good job of executing it, we've still got a lot of work to do as a blocking team. Last year we didn't block worth a darn and Hawai'i steamrolled us. That's got to change and we understand that. It's a big part of the game. It goes hand in hand with the serving and we just have to continually work at getting better at those two things.
bc.net: On Wednesday night you host Hawai'i. It's a big match every year and unfortunately this will be the last year they'll be visiting Las Cruces at least for the foreseeable future.
MJ: It is a big match. We love the competition and they're a great program. It's always fun to compete with them. It's such a challenge though, they're so talented. I think from an outside hitter and middle and right side standpoint they're better than they were a year ago. They've got a new setter and they've got a new libero. They're solid players obviously but they don't have the experience that Liz Kaahue and Dani Mafua did. I think Hawai'i is getting better as the season goes on. They've done so well, only one loss to UCLA who was ranked second in last week's poll. They're a great program with really no weaknesses and they present tough matchup problems. You have to play exceptionally well, do some thing exceptionally well to beat them. You don't have to be perfect. In '08 they had a great team and went to the Final Four and we were a great team as well and swept them at their place. We didn't play great, it wasn't our best match but we did some things exceptionally well. We served well, we blocked well and we defended well and we were low error. That's just part of the equation of beating Hawai'i. That's how Utah State did it last year. They served it great, they blocked great and they dug some balls and they didn't make errors of their own, very few anyway. It's the only way to beat Hawai'i. You can't be mediocre or bad at any of those things.
bc.net: You mentioned some of their new players and one of their big additions this year was Jane Croson. What does she and some of their other new additions bring to the Hawai'i team that in your mind makes them better than last year?
MJ: Well obviously Kanani [Danielson] is a year better and she's already a First Team All-American, she's one of the best in the country. Jane Croson, I had a chance to watch her play quite a bit as a club player and she's a better outside hitter than they had at the L2 spot a year ago. She's got great pop in that arm, she's exceptionally athletic, she's got a great jump serve and she hits it well out of the back row. She's an exciting, dynamic freshman, one of the top recruits in the country. She's certainly made them better. Brittany Hewitt is a great middle and Emily Hartong who had played middle for them as a freshman last year has improved quite a bit. She's a very very good offensive player. She's similar to an Amber Kaufman type player, great off of one foot, quick, jumps really well, great arm. They're just a load to stop. [Chantel] Satele on the right does so many things well and is just a solid consistent player. They're loaded. They can beat you in a lot of ways and their floor defense has always been great. It's a tough matchup for us, it's a tough matchup for anybody. They're capable of getting back to another Final Four and when you get that far you can win it.
bc.net: How important is it to have a big turnout on Wednesday night for the match?
MJ: It's such a big deal. All the years that we've either beaten them or competed well with them where we had some five-setters, we always had great crowds. The last couple of years Hawai'i has been better than us and our crowd has been hurt by football, we've had football on the same day, the later start time hurts us. It's an 8:00 match to accommodate ESPN, we love being on ESPN obviously but with the older crowd they don't want to be out that late or parents with kids. I'm just begging people to come out and not stay at home and watch this one on TV. Like any sport, the home environment is such a big deal and we need ours to be loud and as many butts in the seats as we can get.
bc.net: Then on Saturday you have the match against San Jose State at 2:00 p.m.
MJ: They're much improved. Oscar's got himself a nice team, he's got himself a couple of very good young players. They beat Arizona State which is a good win over a Pac 12 team. They can play. They're very much an improved team over a year ago and I think they're the team that's competing to get into the upper half of the conference and it's important that we play well, we'll have to to win.