Weekly Coach Jordan Interview :: 11/05/13 A successful trip for you starting at Idaho on Thursday and finishing up with Grand Canyon on Monday night. You had a tough first set against the Vandals but you bounced back and got a four set win.
Mike Jordan: We’ve had a lot of tough matches with them over the years and winning at their place is always a good thing. It’s not easy to do. We struggled obviously in the first set, didn’t do many things right and it got away from us. But I thought some of our older players got the group together in between the first and second set and go it rolling in the right direction. I think they came out a little bit more prepared in the second set to compete hard and we played good defense and let our physicality take over from there. The match against Seattle was back and forth against the first three sets and you noted after the match that you didn’t play all that well but were able to pull out the win. What was going on in the first three sets that was different than the fourth set. In the fourth you got Seattle passing really poorly and you were able to take advantage of that.
MJ: I was really unhappy with the way we passed the volleyball for a long time. Bradley really struggled and we were getting aced way too much. Desiree, Preslie and Gwen were attacking the ball pretty well but because of the ball control weren’t able to get them the ball enough. I thought defensively we didn’t make some plays we normally make. I was disappointed with the way we were serving the volleyball for long stretches. I felt like we were serving it way too easy and not creating enough pressure. In the third set, even though it was a closer set, we started to serve it a little bit tougher at the end and I thought the fourth set was our best serving game. The score wasn’t all attributed to that but it certainly helped. We got some separation, I think they [Seattle] got down on themselves a little bit and we were able to pull away. The end of the first three sets against Seattle, especially sets two and three, were you happy with the resolve your team showed? You’ve been looking for them to play a little bit tougher late in sets.
MJ: With postseason coming up I was glad we had to face some close games. That’s important. Your attitude late in games can change and often times does. The more often you see close games late like that where the score is 21-all or 23-22, you put yourself in those situations more often and you’re more prepared to handle them. I’m glad we were able to see some close games and were able to get a win. I think those experiences will help us a little bit. Grand Canyon last night, obviously like the first match against them, your team is more physical and more physically talented than they are. What did you like from the team last night?
MJ: We did a good job of creating one-on-one opportunities for our attackers. Our outside hitters didn’t do a very good job of getting kills in those one-on-one opportunities but they were able to attack the ball well enough that Grand Canyon wasn’t able to counter-attack very well. Eventually we just wore them down physically. I liked that aspect of it. I thought we had good balance. Defensively we missed a few assignments which is always troublesome but I thought we gave good physical effort defensively so I was pleased with that. Are you at all concerned with the late runs that Grand Canyon was putting together at the end of sets when you were pretty close to closing those sets out?
MJ: Not really. We called a few plays that didn’t work. I think we had the match in hand for the most part. I’d like to see us be more efficient certainly but I don’t think we were doing anything that was detrimental. We tried a few things differently and some of them didn’t work out. But when you’ve got a lead like that sometimes you can get on cruise control a little bit and it doesn’t hurt you. Again, we don’t want to see that necessarily but sometimes it happens. In the match against GCU, your four players that are from Arizona played really well last night in front of what looked like a really good supporting group of fans from the area.
MJ: We had a great group of supporters. We had a lot of family members, we had some former players show up, we had just some fans from Arizona and some recruits show up. It was nice to get that kind of support on the road. We talk about her a lot but I don’t know that there’s a hotter player in the league right now than Gwen Murphy.
MJ: Yeah, I’m really impressed with her. Her work ethic is great and her confidence grows every day. She’s making her own case for player of the year. The great thing about her is she’s still got a lot of room for improvement and she’s capable of doing just about anything on the floor. Hats off to her, give her all the credit in the world for her effort and her improvement. She’s doing a fantastic job. This week you take on UMKC and Chicago State, a couple of important matches as you try to stay ahead of Utah Valley. What are you looking for from your team as you prepare for the WAC tournament.
MJ: UMKC has a solid team, they’re good defensively. They did some things the first time around, ran a few tip plays and things we have to prepare for. It’ll be a good test. Obviously Chicago State we’ve got them outmanned physically. I just want us to be more efficient. We need to be low error and high kill percentage. Everything needs to be a little bit more crisp as November hits. You want the servers to be dialed in and serving tough and aggressively. Certainly we need to make progress there. You want your defense to be aggressive and have a “nothing’s going to score on us” mentality. We’ve got to get those things done. We’ve made progress in some of those areas but every time we take the floor it’s another test and we’ve got to make sure our players understand that we want certain numbers for them to put up on the board and they’ve got a job to do and hopefully they’ll go out and do it.