Weekly Coach Jordan Interview :: 08/30/16 Weekly Coach Jordan Interview :: 08/30/16 Your thoughts on the opening weekend?
Mike Jordan: We were a couple of points, a couple silly young mistakes from being 2-0 and then getting an opportunity to play UNLV. I was disappointed only in some of the errors that were made, not necessarily that we were making errors. The technique stuff, those types of errors, I’m fine with early in the year especially when you have a young team. The mistakes we made were mental mistakes without aggression. Those were the frustrating ones that I think cost us that match against Santa Barbara. That’s a match I think we win nine out of ten times right now. We just made those critical mistakes late and I think it affected us the next day unfortunately. We didn’t have the same kind of swagger I thought we should and when times got stressful late in games, again we made some silly mistakes. But UNLV has a veteran team loaded with seniors. I think they return every starter from last year. They’re a good team and certainly on their home floor early in the year it’s going to be a tough matchup.

I did see a lot of really good things too. Our kill percentages were good. I think we had pretty good balance. I liked our floor defense quite a bit. We dug a ton of balls. The things that we need to get better at are obviously serving and serving tougher. Late game serving. We need to block it better, we were kind of a mess there. In crunch time we need to be physical and not play not to make mistakes and that unfortunately what happened against Santa Barbara a little bit. What was your evaluation of your two setters and adjusting to all the new players and not having that Gwen Murphy go-to player to set in crunch time?
MJ: I liked a lot of the things they did. Unfortunately Bri underset Sasha a few times and that led to some attack errors. A few too many un-hittable balls. When you look Sasha’s kill percentage it’s pretty solid but when you look at the hitting percentage, it’s not as we’d like and I think that had a lot to do with it. We’ve got to find her a little bit better and get that ball elevated where she can go up and get it. It’s a tough play to make, it’s not an easy set. Bri has done very well with it so far in her career.

Crash made some mental mistakes, that we expected. Physically she was pretty solid. Her location for the first weekend was fine. I think it’s going to get better and better. In terms of choices, without Gwen being there who is the go-to, I think they did a good job. We had a some opportunities to create plays and get one on ones for some people and they didn’t come through a few times but we’ll learn from that and we’ll give them more opportunities but all in all I thought our setters did a fine job. You mentioned a little bit of fatigue in playing two matches in a day and you’re going to do that twice this coming weekend. What do your players need to do physically or mentally to prepare for that situation?
MJ: Well there’s not a lot you can do. You’ve just got to suck it up. I could tell, at the end of the second set against Santa Barbara I turned to Keith and Ben and said we look like we’re starting to get gassed and we’re looking a little tired. We had to turn around and play a couple hours after playing our first match and that’s not easy to do. Santa Barbara was better rested and had an easier trip in than we did, it was not easy but that’s just a part of early season volleyball. They key in the preseason is to play as much as you can, learn as much as you can and improve each time out. For us going into this weekend I’ve already talked to them about the fact that we’re going to play two matches a day without a lot of rest in between and I think we’ve just got to go out there and do the best we can with it and hopefully some of the younger players will step up and carry a little bit more responsibility and we can rest some of the regulars a couple of times. That’s the hope. But if it doesn’t turn out that way, if Tatyana and Sasha and Jordan and Kassie have to stay on the floor the whole time then so be it. That’s the way it works sometimes. We’ll deal with it as it comes. You mentioned Kassie, she put up good numbers this weekend. What did you like about her play?
MJ: She attacked it in the middle well. She’s not a traditional middle hitter or blocker but we were able to create some plays inside and she did a really good job of making herself available in transition and got herself some free swings and she has a live arm and is aggressive. When you look at the younger players, Brigette Lowe, Hannah Combs, [Kyra] Banko, those guys that are going to play some and we need them to produce, the one thing I talk about with them is look at how aggressive Kassie is. She’s not going to get cheated. She’s going to give a good physical effort attacking the ball all the time. She’s not going to back off and that’s regardless of what she does, error, if she gets blocked, she’s going to keep coming at you and that’s a great way to play offensively and I hope our younger players see that and learn from it. Brigette Lowe put up good numbers in the match against Albany and then her numbers weren’t quite as good in the following two matches but what did you see from her that you liked and what did you see that she’ll be able to improve on?
MJ: She’s got enough power to score points and she did that against Albany. She got aggressive as the match went on. Unfortunately against Santa Barbara I think she tried to avoid the block. She got blocked early, I think she tried to avoid the block after that and went away from her strength which is power. The numbers from there kind of took a nosedive. It’s a tough lesson to learn. We were talking about it with her during the match but when you’re in that moment sometimes as a young player it’s hard to get out of that funk. You need time to regroup and she’s got to do a better job of that. She knows that and again, I think if she plays aggressively she’ll be fine. What was your assessment of the rest of the young players that got a chance to play this past weekend?
MJ: I think Kyra Banko is a really good volleyball player. I think the fact that she’s coming off that labrum surgery is holding her back offensively. She’s got a little bit of a knee issue so she’s not really healthy but as she gets stronger hopefully each week a little bit better I think we’re going to start seeing pretty good numbers from her. Megan Hart was coming off that ACL and she had a setback and she just got cleared so to expect a whole lot from her right now is a mistakes. She’s another one that’s going to get stronger as the year goes on. We’ve got to bring them along. We were kind of counting on Megan Hart to be a regular in our starting lineup opposite Sasha at this point but she’s just not physically there yet. We’ve got to make due with what we have until that time comes. That means that Brigette Lowe, Hannah Combs, maybe Lexi May, are going to be forced into action and have to do a little bit more than they’re ready for early but they’ll learn and they’ll be better for it. What do you know about the four teams you’re playing this weekend?
MJ: Not a lot. I think they had varying results the first weekend. I think all of them are pretty solid defensive teams. Early in the season teams are going to play hard. I know Valpo was picked to finish second in their conference and they’ve got a lot of returning players, a veteran team. I think that can be a challenge especially since it’s the second match of the day for us. Again, how fresh will they be versus how tired will we be. We’ve just got to suck it up and get it done. My interest lies in learning as much as I can about this team and experimenting with the lineup some and we’re going to do that. At times it’s going to look great, we’re going to see flashes of brilliance and then there will be moments of head scratching and shaking and we’re just going to have to deal with it. What’s the biggest improvement you want to see in this second weekend?
MJ: I want to see our attackers be more aggressive in certain situations like i talked about. I want to see us take care of the easy ball a little bit better. We had some front row defensive miscues that we need to clean up and I want to see us block it better. We’ve got to do a better job of making an effort of getting to hitters and chase them down. We didn’t do a very good job of that this first weekend. Obviously that’s going to be a big push from the staff this week with the players, make a big effort with the blocking. That’s not easy for them, some of them are playing out of position, like Kassie, she’s an opposite playing a lot of middle. You’re going to have some growing pains there. We want a really good effort blocking. We gave it digging, I want to see us give the same effort up front blocking.