bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Jordan Interview :: 10/02/17

bleedCrimson.net: A couple of good wins at home last week. Given the loss of Jordan Abalos, I know you were a little concerned about what you might see from your team and who might step up but the team took care of business both nights.
Mike Jordan: Obviously we'd still rather play with Jordan than without Jordan. Jordan perfect passes at a high percentage and that's a valuable thing. But the young women we've got in place, Kassie [Tohm] and Tatyana [Battle], our DS's that might step in and pass a little bit more in her absence, they're pretty good at it. It's not as though we're not a good passing team. I think we were the best passing team in the conference with her. I think we can still be the best passing team in the conference without her. It's just going to skew the numbers a little bit but I still think we're a pretty good receiving team and can get a pretty good first swing a high percentage of the time. That turned out to be the case against Chicago State and UMKC. Chicago State in particular has a couple of pretty tough servers and we handled it pretty well. Every day is different obviously. Every time you put on the uniform you're going to face different servers who are going to try different things against you. I feel like as long as we're competing hard that we're going to hold up in that aspect of the game.

bc.net: Tatyana Battle had a really great two matches for you. What did you see in her performance in stepping in and filling that offensive role?
MJ: She's very good at a few things and has gotten better and is getting better at a couple of others that I think are holding her back. One of them is shot selection and attack choices. She's just making great strides right now in doing the right thing with the volleyball and I think she should be the poster child for the rest of our team in that regard. Her numbers are reflective of that. She's scoring at a high rate and keeping her errors down which for a lot of people is difficult to do both. Typically with a lot of our players this year you've seen high kill numbers but also high error numbers. We've been in a lot of ways an all-or-nothing type of attacking team. I think we're finally starting, Tatyana in particular, but I think as a team we're finally starting to understand that managing the game and making good choices can lead to a better swing later in a rally. I thought we did that a fair amount this week and I'm hoping that continues to be the case moving forward.

bc.net: In the match against UMKC they finished with no blocks. You talked last week about making the right attack choices both with balls set off the net and also perfectly set balls. What did you see from your team as far as the attack choices that they were making?
MJ: I thought we did a good job. UMKC has some length and has put up decent blocking numbers this season. I think a couple of things happened. We were able to stay in system quite a bit. We play at a pretty fast tempo which makes us difficult to block and then when we're out of system and we have to play higher, we did a really good job of just not hitting low and straight into them. I'm hoping that continues. I've been around long enough to know that it takes a lot of consecutive matches, maybe three weeks worth or a month's worth of that type of effort before I believe we've really grasped it. The chances are still good that we might revert to our comfort zone and attack low out of system and we've got to manage that when it happens to try to stop doing it quicker than we had done earlier in the season.

bc.net: We talked a little bit about Natalie Mikels in our first interview. What kind of progress have you seen from her from those first couple of matches in the season to this past weekend?
MJ: Well she's certainly getting more comfortable with what we do. It's not easy as a freshman and it's not easy as much as we like to change the lineup. I certainly give her credit for that. I think she's locating better on the out of system ball. She's done a pretty good job with our quick hitters in that setting. Her and Sasha do well together. I think those things are positives. I think where she really needs to make great strides right now is working to find the quick attackers more often, especially in transition, and locating that ball. I think she's got to work harder defensively. We've given her a little bit of a pass on the defense up to this point because she's got so many other things on her plate. But moving forward we want her to become a better defender. She's got it in her. She's just got to read the right thing, see the right thing and then work a little bit harder physically to do the right things and I think she'll make better digs and more of them.

bc.net: Brielle Sterns had an eight kill match against UMKC with no errors. What does she bring to the team and what is it about the way she plays that you like?
MJ: Well she's an elite athlete. Her quickness, her arm speed, the jumping ability, those things are all tremendous. I think she's streaky and like many young players a little beholden to her confidence level and so we're working at making her a better attacker all over the floor. That means she's got to make some changes in how she does some things. The comfort zone is an enemy for us but a place that many freshmen live in and so we're trying to get her out of that comfort zone and we're pushing her right now. Our expectations of her are going up and we want to see more consistency moving forward.

bc.net: This week you have Seattle and Utah Valley. What do you know about those two teams?
MJ: Seattle really poses problems. They serve tough, they've got length, they've got some good attackers on the floor. I'm impressed with their new libero. I think she does some really good things for them. Certainly at their place it's not going to be an easy match. It's always competitive with them. I wouldn't expect it to be any different.

Utah Valley probably played the toughest non-conference schedule in our league and that's saying something because we played a very tough schedule and so did UTRGV. I think Utah Valley really plays good volleyball for long stretches. I think they're consistent. The match they lost at Bakersfield, they didn't have their starting setter but they were still playing good volleyball even without her and I think that speaks to their ability and their coaching staff. I appreciate how Utah Valley plays volleyball and I think they play to their strengths and away from their weaknesses. It's going to be a very difficult match for us. Their easily the best blocking team in the conference and have a couple of the best players. I have as much respect for Dennison as I do any player in our league. She's their go-to, she's their leader and she's a very, very good player. I'm impressed watching her and I think it's going to be difficult to deal with her. But I like our chances, as long as we're managing the game well and we're competing hard throughout.