Nov. 22, 2008
TULANE HEAD COACH Liz Kritza
Overall thoughts on the match
"This win was a huge positive for many reasons - obviously because it's the conference tournament and because it gets us into the championship match. A bigger piece of it is being able to fight back from the performance we put out there in sets one and two. They rolled us. Credit to Bill and his team. They came out prepared, they went after us and all of our weak spots and we just could not get enough going to counteract that. We could not get enough momentum to be able to take one of those sets away. But I will also give credit where it is due - to my assistants and to this team - for being able to regroup, staying focused on what was going to be our advantage and then going out and executing it. When we started doing that, the players started loosening up, Houston started coming out of system a little bit and then we could actually push and go on for the win. They were firing, they were in system and they were playing at a really high level, and we had no room for error in those first two sets. It is really hard to play and be aggressive in your offense if you have no room for error."
On the difference between the first two sets and the final three
"The big difference in the way that we played was all of the sudden and coming back to realize that we had to make up the bid deficit both defensively in digs and in blocks. They were out-blocking and out-digging us by a tremendous amount, and our offense was not firing true to form. When you look at the numbers, neither team hit over .100. This was a very error-prone match because you had hitters who were swinging - outsides vs. outsides, big heavy arms out there - trying to go for the kill right away without much defense being played. So we had to change our defensive mindset, be willing to go after it and sacrifice some of our offense to get the first ball up. With the rotation change, we needed some different matchups. I wanted to have hitters having a different look at different blocks because the matchups we were in were very stagnant and were not very successful. We made that change, it worked to our advantage and then it actually started loosening up so that we could push our offense faster, get true to form and start running our system the way we like to."
On what she told the team after falling behind, 2-0
"I just reminded them of who they were and what we should be playing like. It was not what we had at stake or what we had to lose. It was about what we had to gain from going out and playing our type of volleyball."
On if there was a `can't lose' mentality in the fifth set after rallying to tie the match at 2-all
"In game five, absolutely. We had to be careful to reign them back in and settle them down. We have been here before where we were playing a good team, were down two sets, came back on fire to take the third and fourth sets and we felt that would carry us over. We had to regroup, reenergize and come out even harder in the fifth set to come away with the win."
On the performance of junior libero Jenn Miller
"She was crucial in keeping the ball off the floor today and the team that was going to win the match today was the team that was going to play better defense down the stretch. After the second set, she started taking more responsibility for easy balls that were coming over or anything that was not hard-driven, and she started taking more of our passing as well. That is where she should be. She is a fantastic player, a highly-skilled one, and an intellectual one who knows the game. We want her handling the ball as much as possible."
On the importance winning the first semifinal and getting to watch the second match
"We do not have to go on and play again today. We are in recovery phase and preparation phase for what will be the most important match of our season."
On how big tomorrow's championship match is to the team and the program
"Tomorrow is huge on many fronts. It is not just for the championship. I think it is more a finale to a journey through Conference USA that these players are wanting to finish. They understand the importance of it and I am very confident that they will come out, be ready to play, and play for what I think they all worked very hard for."
On the team tying a school record with its 15th consecutive victory
"This season with this group has been very positive. We set a bunch of records and have sort of rewrote volleyball history. Tying the winning streak is just a testament to this team and the level this program has gotten to in a short amount of time. A 15-match win streak in any conference is a considerable accomplishment. That is a long streak to sustain, but the focus on getting better every single day, every single practice and every single ball is what allows us to do that. We will have to see how long it will last."
TULANE OUTSIDE HITTER Sara Radosevic
On what happened early in the match
"They did whatever they wanted to to us early on. We just fell apart. We didn't do anything that our coaches told us to do. Basically, we didn't listen to the instructions. Afterwards, we corrected it, did what the coaches said and that is what worked."
On the team's attitude after falling behind, 2-0
"We just felt more comfortable and felt like Houston was beginning to get a little rattled. I really felt that we were calm the whole time. Even when we were down by seven points (in the fourth set), we just told each other, `Okay, we can do this. We have to do this together one point at a time to catch up.' And that is how it happened."
On advancing to the C-USA Championship Match
"We are all so excited. We know that we can do it. This is our chance. We've played for so long together and if we can come out again tomorrow and play like a team, we have a chance to win it."
TULANE LIBERO Jenn Miller
On having a season-best 29 digs in the win
"I feel that I haven't had a very good season, but the conference tournament is a great time to turn it around. The coaches did a great job of scouting Houston and they gave me a lot of direction on where to stand and what to expect. Once we started neutralizing No. 13 (Houston middle blocker Lucy Charuk), things really turned around."
On what Coach Kritza told the team after falling behind, 2-0
"We definitely got a talking to, but really it was all of us looking at each other in the eye and saying `If we don't do this, everything we've done to this point will be for nothing. We have to do this.'" It was a sense of I'll cover your back if you'll cover mine, and it really worked today."
On what the difference was in the first two sets and the last three
"It wasn't panic, more frustration. Frustration has been one of our biggest problems. We just had to stay calm, look at each other in the eye and communicate. We worked it out and made it happen."
On advancing to the C-USA Championship Match
"Everything that we have been working for is finally coming together. Coming back from two games down, I never thought we could have done that in years past. I am really proud of everyone's effort today and want to go out and get a win tomorrow."
HOUSTON HEAD COACH BILL WALTON
"We were up 16-12 in the fourth and needed the side-out to finish. We made a couple hitting errors, but then Tulane also played great defense. They wouldn't let a ball hit the floor when it counted most. You have to give Tulane credit - a senior-laden team. When they could have folded up the tent with us having a big lead in the fourth, they didn't. They kept fighting and scrapping and they hung in there to win the fourth. You have to give them credit for not quitting. They showed why they are the top team in the conference. They just keep doing what they do and actually played a little better after they were down. You have to give Tulane credit."
"We had a game plan and the kids did a great job. They executed the game plan on defense perfectly. We stopped Tulane at every moment. Our defense was excellent. With our defense and execution of the game plan, we were right there. Our side-out offense kind of broke down at about 16-12 in the fourth game. But then we kind of got it back at about 23-22. We were still in the game and they had a couple of digs and they blocked us and game over. It's extremely unfortunate. We are very disappointed. I'm sure there for a moment in the fourth game we thought we had it, but you can't think about having it. You have to think about siding out. Being down actually made Tulane play harder. You have to give Tulane credit. They never quit trying to execute their game plan."