bleedCrimson.net: Congratulations on winning the regular season WAC title, obviously it was one of your goals for the season.
Mike Jordan: Absolutely. I’m happy for the players. Obviously it’s not the one we want, it’s the conference tournament championship we want, that’s where the automatic tournament bid is. I think we had one back weekend throughout the course of the season and that’s not bad. There’s a lot of teams that wish they had done what we had.
bc.net: You had that stretch of about five matches in five days and the last two weeks you’ll have played only two matches in that stretch. How important was that schedule-wise to get your players some rest and heal up some of the bumps and bruises that occur throughout the season.
MJ: It’s important to get rest. There’s no doubt about it. I think there’s some things we can’t really fix at this point. If you’ve got a bad shoulder or bad knee, a couple days off isn’t going to help that much or at all. But just resting the legs in particular is important. If we could just take some down time, which we did, and they can jump a little higher and run a little faster then that’ll pay off for us. Continue Reading This Post >>
bleedCrimson.net: A successful trip for you starting at Idaho on Thursday and finishing up with Grand Canyon on Monday night. You had a tough first set against the Vandals but you bounced back and got a four set win.
Mike Jordan: We’ve had a lot of tough matches with them over the years and winning at their place is always a good thing. It’s not easy to do. We struggled obviously in the first set, didn’t do many things right and it got away from us. But I thought some of our older players got the group together in between the first and second set and go it rolling in the right direction. I think they came out a little bit more prepared in the second set to compete hard and we played good defense and let our physicality take over from there.
bc.net: The match against Seattle was back and forth against the first three sets and you noted after the match that you didn’t play all that well but were able to pull out the win. What was going on in the first three sets that was different than the fourth set. In the fourth you got Seattle passing really poorly and you were able to take advantage of that.
MJ: I was really unhappy with the way we passed the volleyball for a long time. Bradley really struggled and we were getting aced way too much. Desiree, Preslie and Gwen were attacking the ball pretty well but because of the ball control weren’t able to get them the ball enough. I thought defensively we didn’t make some plays we normally make. I was disappointed with the way we were serving the volleyball for long stretches. I felt like we were serving it way too easy and not creating enough pressure. In the third set, even though it was a closer set, we started to serve it a little bit tougher at the end and I thought the fourth set was our best serving game. The score wasn’t all attributed to that but it certainly helped. We got some separation, I think they [Seattle] got down on themselves a little bit and we were able to pull away.
bc.net: The end of the first three sets against Seattle, especially sets two and three, were you happy with the resolve your team showed? You’ve been looking for them to play a little bit tougher late in sets.
MJ: With postseason coming up I was glad we had to face some close games. That’s important. Your attitude late in games can change and often times does. The more often you see close games late like that where the score is 21-all or 23-22, you put yourself in those situations more often and you’re more prepared to handle them. I’m glad we were able to see some close games and were able to get a win. I think those experiences will help us a little bit.
bc.net: Grand Canyon last night, obviously like the first match against them, your team is more physical and more physically talented than they are. What did you like from the team last night?
MJ: We did a good job of creating one-on-one opportunities for our attackers. Our outside hitters didn’t do a very good job of getting kills in those one-on-one opportunities but they were able to attack the ball well enough that Grand Canyon wasn’t able to counter-attack very well. Eventually we just wore them down physically. I liked that aspect of it. I thought we had good balance. Defensively we missed a few assignments which is always troublesome but I thought we gave good physical effort defensively so I was pleased with that. Continue Reading This Post >>
bleedCrimson.net: A good weekend for the team, you got back in the win column. What were you happy with over the weekend?
Mike Jordan: I thought we did a solid job of giving defensive effort. Our dig to kill numbers were better and I just feel like we worked harder at team defense. We didn’t leave so many digs out on the floor as we did the previous weekend.
bc.net: Defensively you held both teams to a low hitting percentage. Was that one of your better weekends in that regard?
MJ: We take a lot of pride in that and that’s why the Utah Valley loss bugged us so much because we were just so bad defensively and let them hit for such a good percentage. Both teams we played this weekend are struggling. They don’t have the type of athlete we have and we have the kind of block that can create a lot of problems for teams. As long as we’re digging well around it and working hard we should keep teams to low percentages.
bc.net: Were you happy with the fact that you didn’t let either the teams hang around in the match?
MJ: Yeah, that’s always good to see. We really didn’t have any prolonged bad moments which is good. I’d like to see us challenged. My feeling about this team is we need to be confident and tough when we don’t have a lead and so I’m looking for those opportunities now. Continue Reading This Post >>
bleedCrimson.net: Tough weekend for the team out at Bakersfield and Utah Valley.
Mike Jordan: Yeah it was a rough weekend. There's a difference between training and competing or performing. When we're in the practice gym you're getting a ton of reps and I think for us one of the things that's standing out to me is we have to all those reps count. I feel like we take a few too many plays off in practice and that seems to be translating itself to games when we're performing.
We were doing very well at Bakersfield and seemingly had control and we walk out flat, give up seven of the first nine points in the third set. Their [Bakersfield's] confidence starts to grow and almost immediately we started to look like that team at the beginning of the year that was second guessing themselves and waiting for somebody else to make a play as opposed to making a play themselves. There was a huge momentum shift and I thought we settled down in the fourth set, we led the whole way. Then at 22-21, one of our seniors misses a serve, we make a hitting error, we get aced, we make a terrible pass and another hitting error and we lose. That's just really not acceptable. It was very disappointing. Then 11-8 we're up in the fifth and the house of cards come falling down again. We make a serving error, get aced, we make two more hitting errors. We scored literally like 80 percent of their points for them. They played aggressively and took it to us. I was disappointed with how we were reacting on the floor. I didn't see a lot of fight in us and that's something we just have to keep working at.
bc.net: The Utah Valley match, how much of that was residual from the way the final two sets from the match before against Bakersfield?
MJ: I think a lot of it. I think they came out and played very well against us and you tip your hat to them. They were aggressive at the service line, they were aggressive attacking it. They played much better defense. I was appalled at the amount of digs we left out on the floor. So from that standpoint, defense is effort and paying attention to details. We didn't do much of that. We get off to a bad start. Set two we settled down again, we lead the whole way and at the end, again, Stephanie digs a ball over the net that we should have hit, Bradley gets aced, we make a hitting error and all of the sudden we're just giving away points freely and fast. Our confidence just goes in the tank and with some upper clansmen, the expectation is that they will take over and say the right things and do the right things. We're counting on them and they need to step up. Continue Reading This Post >>
bleedCrimson.net: The team got off to a little bit of a slow start in the first set and you talked about last week that your slow started needed to start lasting no more than five or six points instead of lasting entire sets. You were able to turn it around and once you got going you were hard to stop.
Mike Jordan: They just don't have the athletes that we have. We got off to a little bit of a slow start mainly because of our errors. Lauren started poorly and I pulled her and put Aleisha in and she did a nice job of just bettering the volleyball. Eventually as a group we started to click. Lauren came in and started to play a little bit better. You want to stay error free and against teams that you have a physical advantage you don't want to be scoring their points for them. That's an issue we have from time to time and fortunately it only lasted a few points in the first set and after that we were pretty dominant.
bc.net: Decision making in that match from your setters must have been pretty good for you to put up the type of hitting numbers that you did and also be low error.
MJ: Absolutely. Kill distribution was good and I thought we did a good job of staying low error, except in the very beginning. We won more than our fair share of long rallies and when you do that you're going to put yourself in a position to win no matter who you're playing. Continue Reading This Post >>
bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the wins over Idaho and Seattle?
Mike Jordan: I feel good about getting the wins. We played well against Idaho. We were pretty consistent throughout the match. We were low error and every aggressive which I loved. Against Seattle, what a difference 24 hours can make. We started very poorly with very little energy and lost a close first set where we made a lot of mental mistakes. Fortunately we got it together and started to pressure them a little bit but again I'd like to see us play consistently from set to set.
bc.net: As far as coming a little bit slow in the match against Seattle was it
MJ: There's no excuses for it. You don't get to make up a reason why when you're an athlete. You've got to take on the responsibility and you've gotta go do it, play hard and be prepared. For whatever reason we just didn't seem to be with it emotionally or mentally and they dictated the tempo of the set. They served tougher, they played harder and they won. It was frustrating to watch. From my standpoint if you get off to a bad start the bad start should be five, six, seven points, it shouldn't be an entire set. I thought we stunk the entire set. We have to be able to turn things around quicker.
bc.net: What were you able to do in between the first and second sets that enabled you to turn things around?
MJ: We changed the lineup a little bit. I put Aleisha Coates back in. She gave us a lift. She blocks a little bit better, she makes a few more defensive plays, passes a little bit of serve receive for us, she serves tougher. Her offensive numbers, we weren't setting her a ton but she gave us some intangibles I think and those other things that I mentioned helped a little bit. Then we also didn't miss as many assignments. I didn't do anything other than changing the lineup but I just appealed and tried to get them to use their volleyball IQ a little bit better. Continue Reading This Post >>
bleedCrimson.net: You had a bit of a lineup change over the weekend with Stephanie Ziegler playing all six rotations and Lauren Loerch playing in the front row. Was that move made to help with the passing?
Mike Jordan: We're pretty much playing musical chairs with the lineup right now. In order to put a consistent lineup on the floor we need consistent play from the players and we haven't gotten a lot of that. We've got depth and I think it's important that we use it. We decided in the Pan American match after the first set when we made a ton of errors playing the 6-2 that we should play in a 5-1 and go with Livoti at setter. She's just a lot quicker and we can play a quicker style with her setting. I wanted to settle down the ball control a little bit and I felt like Stephanie moving to outside hitter and bringing on another libero would steady us out passing and defending and it did. We played really well. We're built for a 6-2 but we'll go to the 5-1 if we need to.
As far as this match with Bakersfield, Stephanie attacked the ball well [against Pan American] and I asked her, "What do you want to do tonight?" and she said, "I'll do whatever you want," which is always her response. I said, "Do you feel like taking swings?" She said, "Yeah." So I said, "What the heck, we'll go with it again and put her on the left and see how she does." I don't think that her days as a libero are over certainly. There will be times when I think it's be best when she plays there. But I like a lot of the things she gives us. We're a team that's sort of at the mercy of our ball control and the better ball control lineup we can put on the floor, hopefully we can get more swings to Des and Gwen and the big hitters. There are also liabilities blocking in certain rotations. So you've just got to pick and choose based on who you're playing and I think we'll continue to do that. Continue Reading This Post >>
bleedCrimson.net: It was an interesting weekend for you with a couple of wins against Hampton and South Dakota State and a couple of tough losses to Utah and New Mexico.
Mike Jordan: Those five gamers take a toll on you. I think Utah is a very, very good team and we played very well with a very good opponent for stretches. Obviously in game five we did not play well. I was disappointed in that effort but for four of the five sets I felt like we were really competing. It was frustrating to lose but up to that fifth set we played probably as well as we've played.
We played Hampton and South Dakota State, they don't have the talent we have and we win and it was a nice shot of confidence and then we play a New Mexico team that I don't feel has the same kind of firepower that we have and we seemed to be in control after the third set and completely fall apart and make error after error after error. That's very frustrating and just not acceptable from a lot of standpoints. It was frustrating to play so poorly; 44 attack errors, that's got to be a record and it's just ridiculous. Really, other than UNM creating a little bit better service pressure, there was no reason for those attack errors. It was us not being aggressive enough at times, it was us making a lot of bad choices. Sometimes you get in your own head as a player and do things that you shouldn't do. I was frustrated in that loss last night. At times we looked good, sets two and three we made some nice adjustments, seemed to be running smoothly then all of the sudden the engine sputters and the car breaks down. We fell apart, completely fell apart and never really recovered after a terrible start in the fourth set. We've got to grow up and get rid of our weaknesses, improve our skills a little bit and be mentally tougher. Continue Reading This Post >>
bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the weekend?
Mike Jordan: A little bit of a mixed bag of results. I was hoping we'd go 3-0. I was very impressed with Arkansas-Little Rock. The foreign players they have are tremendous. They were physically impressive and they played great volleyball and they certainly have a level of experience that we don't. They really took over the games. They made very few mistakes in crunch time and all those games were close against them. We had a couple of set points in the fourth and made some mistakes and you can't make those against great teams.
I think we saw some growth. I think we were better every time we took the floor which is a good sign that we're learning how to play a certain way. I felt like we were more and more aggressive as the weekend went on but weren't aggressive enough yet against Little Rock. We're finding some answers about ourselves, in the lineup in particular, who can play together and who needs some work still. We've just got to continue to work at our weaknesses in practice and get ready for our next practice. Continue Reading This Post >>
bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on how the team played out in Hawai'i?
Mike Jordan: Well, I wasn't very happy. One of the things that in setting the schedule up we wanted to challenge ourselves and learn a lot about ourselves. So from that standpoint I learned a lot. Unfortunately some of the things I thought we'd be good at early in the season, we're not. That was a little frustrating obviously. The serve-receive inconsistency was a problem. I thought because we had a lot of returning players we'd be a lot better at dealing with the pressure late in games and we weren't. So we've got some strides to make up here pretty quick.
I'm still glad we went. Before and after the tournament I told the team, "Would you feel differently if we were 5-1?," and of course they all nodded their head and said yes. I said, "We could make that happen for you scheduling wise by playing a lot of mediocre teams but the way we would feel about ourselves would be inaccurate. We'd think we were better than what we really are. Now we know to play with the Hawaii's of the world and the UCLA's of the world we have a lot of ground to make up and some specific weaknesses that we have to address. From that standpoint it's better to learn now than to learn down the road.
I think this is only going to benefit us from an improvement standpoint. We have a bar to shoot and we'll hold it over their heads every day to improve. We've got really good physical athletes, we've just got to get better at playing volleyball and specifically the serve and pass stuff has to improve. I'm sure it will. We've got to find a way to get Gwen Murphy untracked offensively. She's got so many great physical tools. We've got to start locating sets to her that she can put away. And we've got to be less error-prone. If we can do those things we're going to be fine. Continue Reading This Post >>