bleedCrimson.net: The team picked up a win at UTRGV on Saturday and we talked last week about your team and your disappointment in their lack of competitive fire in the loss to Bakersfield. Did you see what you wanted to see from your team in the match on Saturday?
Mike Jordan: Yeah I thought we were more persistent and competed better. Some of that might have been the fact that we were feeling better. When we were playing Bakersfield we had three people that were sick and so you never know how that affects some people. We weren't 100 percent for sure. I think we had a little more energy against the Vaqueros and did a pretty good job of staying in sets. We had a chance in the second set to close them out, we were 24-22 and made a couple of silly errors and handed them over the set but we got back on the horse and started to compete a little bit again and just made more plays down the stretch when we needed to.
bc.net: Tatyana Battle again had a career match with 28 kills. We talked after she had the 26 kill night about how she kind of started off slowly but this one she was pretty consistent from the first set through the fifth set getting four, five, six, seven and six kills.
MJ: Yeah she put a lot of points on the board. I was surprised. When I saw the number at the end that she had gotten 28 I was a little surprised. It didn't feel like that many but she was efficient. Her kill percentage, not just her hitting percentage, was really high, close to 50 percent. She did that 28 on a pretty small number of attempts. A great match from her from sure.
bc.net: She's now done it twice. When she gets on a roll like that, what is she seeing on the court, what are you seeing from her on the court?
MJ: Well I think the ball control is really important. Getting quality attempts is a big deal. We made good effort defensively and she was able to get swings from good angles and when you do that you can jump big to the volleyball. When the ball is coming from funny angles that's when you get off balance and you half jump and things like that and you're not going to get a lot of kills doing that. I think really you have to credit the people who were handling the ball and they did a good job of getting her swings.
bc.net: You had just the one match last week how much did that help your team in getting some of your players some rest?
MJ: It was. We talked last week, we gave them an extra day off and like I said we weren't feeling well. We had a lot of people sick and nursing some injuries so we gave them an extra day. We didn't have a great practice on Wednesday but had a much better one on Thursday. Friday we traveled so we practiced at UTRGV for a very short period of time and just got ready for Saturday. Physically I thought we looked pretty good. As good as we could at this point.
bc.net: This week you head back out on the road and wrap up conference play at Chicago State and UMKC. Obviously a lot to play for Thursday night with a chance to clinch the outright regular season title and there's a lot of uncertainty below you as far as seeding goes for the WAC Tournament. How do you approach these last two matches?
MJ: I think pretty much the same as we approach them all but the fingers will be crossed that we don't incur anymore injuries along the way. At this point getting into the NCAA Tournament is totally dependent on those three days in November here at the conference tournament so what we do the rest of the regular season is really pretty inconsequential. We've clinched a share of the WAC title and the WAC doesn't really call it co-champions. They just call it a championship. We tied with Hawai'i back in '08 but we both get to call ourselves the regular season champions. It doesn't say co-champs. At this point I don't really care too much about that. I care about getting us prepared for the conference tournament. We want to win obviously, we want to be playing better and more efficient volleyball and also getting healthy. I've actually contemplated sitting down one or two players who I think would benefit a lot from more rest. We'll see. I'll talk with them. We may try our best to just get prepared for the conference tournament next week.
bc.net: Following up on that, you've mentioned you don't have a lot of depth on the outside and you've got a few younger players that I'm sure throughout the conference season you would have liked to have gotten more playing time. Do you get them more playing time and how beneficial is it for them at this stage of the season heading into the tournament?
MJ: Well we have no depth on the left. There's a big difference between some depth and no depth and we have none. Kyra Banko was the only other true outside hitter on the roster. Kassie or Brigette Lowe could go over there and do what they can do but they're not true left side hitters. They didn't grow up being left side hitters. We're kind of rolling with Jordan and Tatyana at this point and it's really important that we keep them as healthy as possible. They're both young players. Tatyana in particular is a sophomore. There's a lot of responsibility on them right now and as much as we can to alleviate the physical stress is important. Getting younger players reps obviously we're doing that in practice as much as we can. They're getting the bulk of the reps on practice right now. Combs, Lowe, May, Hart, they're getting a lot of work, a lot of attention in practice right now. We're just trying to make them better and give them more opportunities and hopefully they'll be able to help us a little bit more come tournament time.
bc.net: Heading into this last weekend before the conference tournament next week, you've talked about having a vision of where you want your team to be and the level that they need to be playing at to win a conference championship. How close do you think they are?
MJ: Well there are a couple of the skills I think we're doing great. I'm really happy with the way we serve it and the way we dig. Offensively we're producing a lot of kills but we're too high error. Obviously you put yourself in jeopardy when you're scoring points for the other team. The blocking is still a long ways away from being good but that's a skill that takes longer to improve at than most. And we've got players who are switching positions alot and that makes it difficult on them. From a blocking standpoint I'm not happy, we don't feel good about that but we are who we are at this point. We've just got to go out and do the best we can.