Weekly Coach Jordan Interview :: 10/13/15 Weekly Coach Jordan Interview :: 10/13/15 Your thoughts on the Grand Canyon and Bakersfield matches?
Mike Jordan: Two road wins, you’re always happy with. I think we were very good in stretches. I don’t think we were great from beginning to end obviously. We dropped a couple of sets. The set we dropped to Grand Canyon we were just very, very high error and actually one of the sets we won against them we were very high error. That’s a rarity for this team. It happened again a little bit against Bakersfield. I think that revolves around decision making, especially out of system. We’ve got to make better attack choices. But when we were making good choices and in system, we were clearly the better team. That Bakersfield match, the set you did drop. Usually when your team has 15 kills and hits .306, you figure you’re going to win the set. That wasn’t the case and you just couldn’t quit get untracked in that set.
MJ: No and they played very well that set. We started it out by passing the ball terrible and gave them a lot of easy looks and they converted. They’ve got good arms. When you look at them statistically they’re right up there in kills per set so you can’t give them easy stuff all the time or you’re going to pay for it and we did. I thought that the first set of that match, a really pivotal point was when you were down 20-19, you didn’t pass the ball very well, had an overpass, Bakersfield had a chance to put it down but it was covered well by Jordan Abalos and you end up getting the kill. Obviously you don’t want to go down 21-19 in that situation.
MJ: Yeah we did step up and make a few plays defensively which is great. I thought we got better defensively as the match went on. When you’ve got a veteran team like we do, you expect them to make plays. Jordan is only a sophomore but I think this year’s team is much better than last year’s team at stepping up and making plays when needed. From the the serve and pass aspect, the numbers weren’t great for either match. What was the struggle in those two matches?
MJ: Well we do a lot of passing in a two-man reception pattern and we’re susceptible to giving up a few aces here or there. But the two that are passing are very good passers and their percentage at perfect pass is very high. So it’s a little bit of a tradeoff, it’s a little bit of the home run hitter who strikes out a lot. You strike some but you’ve got to find that balance. I think all-in-all for the most part we’re doing a good job of passing the volleyball. Serving it, we just haven’t gotten a lot of aces recently. I think we’re doing okay at the service line, maybe not doing as well as we were early in the season. We tend to back off a little bit after misses which is not healthy for your ace numbers obviously. But I think we’re still creating enough pressure where our block and defense is being able to work and be efficient. I’m not happy with the ace versus errors numbers but I don’t think it’s as bad as the numbers look. We’re creating some pressure and the aces will come. You talked early in the season and have talked about how all of your teams have not been great blocking teams early and it being season-long process. Your team has been able to come up with some timely blocks, especially in the Bakersfield match. How would you assess your team’s progress in terms of becoming a better blocking team?
MJ: We have made progress. I don’t think we’re a great blocking team, I’m not sure if we’ll get to that point this year. I do think that we’ve made strides. The biggest piece to that puzzle is service pressure. If you’re getting teams out of system consistently and your block gets to the right spot on time, you’re going to block your fair share of balls and we’ve started to do that more and more. Again, I’d like to see bigger numbers but I think our blocking presence is pretty solid. You clean up technique a little bit and instead of soft blocking balls which is when an attacker hits it and we block it and it goes back into their court and they cover it and continue to play, if we clean up our hand position a little bit and block the ball to the floor a little bit more often and end rallies, that’s something we can do a little bit better. I think we’re working to that end. We’ve talked about this team being a good floor defense team and it feels like this team is not just extending rallies but you’re winning a lot more of those long rallies than you have in the past couple of years. Is that fair to say?
MJ: I think so. I think it’s a defining characteristic of championship level teams. In years past when we’ve had great teams, we’ve won the majority of long rallies. Obviously discipline is involved there, effort level is involved there and skill, the quality of dig that you make and I think that’s something we’ve done better than most of the teams we’ve played this year. We’re giving ourselves better opportunities in transition to attack the ball than we have in the past. We’re not a high ball only team when team’s attack it at us. We’re scoring and our kill percentage is reflecting a good dig quality. Another big week this week in conference play hosting Utah Valley (second place team) and Seattle (tied for third). What do you expect to see from those two teams?
MJ: We expect good matches. I think both teams are good. They’ve got a lot of good athletes, they’ve got good size. I picked them both very high in the preseason. I would expect it to be competitive and a lot of fun to watch. The match on Saturday against Seattle, Martina Samadan is their version of Gwen Murphy. From your perspective as a coach and having a player like that, how do you go about stopping a player like that?
MJ: I don’t know that stopping one player is ever the end-all be-all. No matter how good a player is, you can only set them so many times and someone like Martina and people like Gwen who are primarily middles, attack in certain situations and the goal is to keep them out of those situations more often than not and force them to have to set someone else. We never look at one player and say we have to stop her. We gameplan for certain people. Obviously in certain situations we’re looking to key on her but volleyball is a team game and there are quite a few attackers on the floor and it’s really about slowing multiple people down and not just one.