bleedCrimson.net: Last week you took a trip out west to take on Seattle and Utah Valley. You picked up a sweep of Seattle and it looked like the team played pretty well.
Mike Jordan: We did play well, especially defensively. I felt we were really solid. Brielle Sterns sprained her ankle in the second set, about midway through it and we continued to play well even without her in the lineup. It's the third set that was a little bit more of a struggle because she's becoming a pretty good offensive option for us. Losing her has been tough. I like the defensive effort we made against Seattle. I thought we served it pretty well, did a good job of blocking and our outside hitters played great. All of our pin players played really, really well. That was a bonus for sure.
bc.net: You had a five set match against Utah Valley, you were up 2-1 and the fifth set was a lot like every other fifth set that you've played this year where you're real close or leading right around the nine or ten point mark and the other team goes on an extended point run or wins five out of six or six out of seven.
MJ: Yeah, we got stuck in a rotation in that fifth set late and made a lot of attack errors unfortunately. We had seven attack errors in the fifth set alone. We had ten in the fourth. We were up 2-1 and then the fourth set we really started getting error prone again and we weren't getting anything out of the quick attackers and our other opposite attacker. Sasha played well, Tatyana started well but finished poorly. Kassie played well throughout attacking. We were scoring there but we weren't scoring other places and we had a lot of opportunities and we just didn't get it done. It's frustrating but until we learn to make plays late in games or we find offense somewhere else, we're going to wind up struggling a little bit at times and that's what's happening. You can look at it two ways, we're four matches in five sets, we're 0-4. We're really close to being 15-3 on the season and instead we're 11-7. Which team are we? Which are we closer to? Are we closer to being a 15-win team or an 11-win team? I think we're somewhere in the middle but with Jordan and now Brielle out, it's going to be much more difficult for us to win and we're going to have to wind up asking some people who don't have a lot of experience to make a lot of plays for us and maybe late in games. But it's an opportunity for other people to step up and hopefully they'll do that.
bc.net: Kassie Tohm had a very good weekend, she had 17 kills against Seattle and 24 against Utah Valley and hit for really good percentages in both of those matches.
MJ: She had a great weekend offensively. On the left side as an outside hitter, when you hit over .300 like that and she was close to .400 on the weekend and produce that amount of kills, you're really, really on fire. She was in the zone for an extended period of time and did some really good things offensively. I was surprised she wasn't the conference player of the week. I think she's comfortable on the left and the right. She's been mostly a right in her career but she's getting more comfortable on the left and has done some tremendous things over there for us offensively.
bc.net: What does her becoming more comfortable on the left do for you in terms of flexibility in what you're able to do?
MJ: Well, if Jordan Abalos were still healthy it would make a world of difference. But the fact that she's not, it's great that Kassie can play over there but it's not giving us a lot of flexibility over there because of the lack of depth. Who we have to put, whether that's Megan Hart or Brigette Lowe or possibly Savannah Davison at some point, moving over to the right side where Kassie was playing, they're not prepared yet to carry much of a load offensively. We're going to struggle scoring in that position for a while until they improve. But again, it's an opportunity for them and hopefully they'll make strides.
bc.net: You mentioned in the Utah Valley match not getting much from your quick attackers, what do they need to do to make themselves more of an option or scoring threat?
MJ: Well the timing is difficult, especially for young middles like Lia Mosher. She was late a few times attacking it and took some bad swings. I felt like we were trying to place the ball more than really score with it with power and I think we need to use the power game more. Hopefully we'll see some progress this weekend. Really, it's just an improvement in skill. Brigette Lowe for instance needs to learn to hit the ball away from her body, she struggles with quicker tempo type sets. But you're out there in practice every day, we see it in practice every day, at some point you've just gotta go out and start scoring for us. Hopefully that'll happen. They've certainly gotten their opportunities in practice all season long, now when you put the uniform on you've got to go out and produce in games as well. Physically they're capable but the skill needs to improve a little bit as well and I think they have to have the right mental approach to it as well.
bc.net: This weekend you've got Bakersfield on Thursday, Grand Canyon on Saturday and UNM on Monday. Obviously the Bakersfield match is going to be a tough one with them off to a good start in WAC play and leading the league.
MJ: Bakersfield is a good team. They're doing a lot of things really well, they're defending well, they're serving it really well. They've got balance offensively. They play very hard. Melo's teams always do. It's going to be a tough match, it always is with them. I think for us to win we've got to do the things I've talked about already. We need more contribution from some other people. We have to learn how to play without Jordan Abalos still and now Brielle Sterns and that's not easy because they were such a big part of what we were doing. Brielle was becoming a bigger part every day, Jordan is a huge part of it. For them to be sitting on the sidelines, it changes our style a little bit and puts some people in a position they're not real familiar with. Again, it's an opportunity for people to step up. Hopefully they will.
bc.net: What do you know about Grand Canyon and UNM?
MJ: I think GCU is getting better. They're a better team than they were a year ago for sure. They don't have a ton of firepower offensively but I think they're a good defensive team. They're a low error team so they make you work for your points. UNM obviously they've got some talented players. They're a good, solid Mountain West team with some good size and you throw in the rivalry emotion, it should be a fun battle.