Dec. 5, 2008
HEAD COACH Liz Kritza
"We are very excited, obviously, to get the first tournament win in Tulane University history. We will look for points of improvement (for tomorrow), but we are pleased to be able to come out of this with a four-set victory over a very strong Tennessee Tech team. Looking forward, we know that tonight's match prepared us for an even stronger match tomorrow. We had a few players that went down (with minor injuries) early on, so it made for some interesting challenges, but I am pleased with the performance overall and coming away with our first NCAA Tournament win. It is some additional history and milestones we made for the program tonight."
On not playing outside competition since the C-USA Tournament on Nov. 23
"We were playing a pretty tough schedule toward the end of the season. We were one of the teams that had to play multiple matches right before the conference tournament. Any time you take a 10-day period off, you are going to be a little rusty. Today, I think we got some of the cobwebs out but we are only looking for improvement. We are pleased with the win, but obviously we want a lot more."
On how tight the match was tonight
"I think everybody in our program and our University is taking a deep breath and letting out a big sigh of relief. Obviously there were plays tonight that were uncharacteristic of the way we have played all year long. I am going to chalk that up to this being the first time playing in the NCAA Tournament. But what I saw was a team that understood what it needed to do to make changes and come out with a victory. These matches matter more than any throughout the season. There is extra pressure and excitement, and balancing it is difficult. I will give credit to my team to be able to make the comebacks that we did. That is the true sign of a team that has strong character, has learned how to fight and has been tested. We need to get in system much earlier on so that we are not playing catch-up and having to fight back and prove our tenacity over and over and over. That gets exhausting. You need to be focusing on raising your level of play and actually enacting some difference strategies as opposed to just focusing on your technical play."
On being able to play the first match and then watch the second match to find out who Tulane will play next
"I think it helps us keep focused on one match at a time. Everybody says that and everybody wants to do that, but our schedule is such that you play your match, you are over with it and then you can begin immediate and total preparation for the next opponent, which is ideal. After that performance today, we are going to take every possible measure to make sure that we are ready and you want to make sure that you are putting forth your best performance night after night in this tournament. That is what is about. This team is going to take its win, learn from its mistakes and I think we now have a little fuel to get them going to come out with a much better performance tomorrow night."
On having four players finish with double-digit kill totals
"When our offense is working well, we will have multiple players in double digits. That is the way it is designed and that is the way it should be. We just did not go to that early enough. We were relying too heavily on a predictable, high, outside ball. When we started diversifying the offense, things started working for us. That is the only thing that allowed us to make those runs to come back.
On the performance of junior right-side hitter Ksenija Vlaskovic
"Vlaskovic had a very good performance for us with a high hitting percentage. Now, we she needs to make sure that she is mirroring her defensive performance with her offensive showing. And I am fully confident that she will. This is an encouraging performance for her and we are going to look for her to continue leading us offensively."
On what the difference in the match was tonight
"It was a very evenly-matched contest tonight. You had both teams able to score at a high pace, but it was the team that was going to play defense better down the stretch that was going to win this. The best example of the story of this match was the last five or six points in the fourth set. We were trading side-outs. Both teams were trading point-for-point, slugging away. It was the team that was going to play defense, stop the opponent from scoring and get to their transition offense that was going to win. Fortunately for us, we got to that point first."
SENIOR OUTSIDE HITTER Sara Radosevic
On the team's overall attitude heading into the match
"I was very excited, but at the same time not overly excited. We were very focused. We have not played in two weeks, just practiced, and that made a big difference. I think we are going to come out so much stronger tomorrow. We are ready to keep going."
On what the team did to erase a 17-11 deficit in the third set to win 25-22
"We adjusted and listened to what our coaches told us. We had problems with closing our block and playing defense around it. That is what we said we had to do before the match and that is how we stopped them. We have a pretty good defense, but if we don't set up around the block, they are going to kill us. That was what they were doing up until that point when we figured it out."
JUNIOR LIBERO Jenn Miller
Overall thoughts on the win over the Golden Eagles
"It was a very tight contest. They had a good offense and our block had some trouble staying with their players and making sure we made all of our assignments. But everybody fought hard. I thought that we had some good plays. Obviously there were some parts that we need to improve on, but I think they are things that we can get done by tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it."
On if she was surprised how well Tennessee Tech bounced back after squandering a 17-11 lead in the third set
"We knew they were going to come out hard. One thing that we learned as a team this season is how to stay together and come back from big deficits. We've shown consistently that we can do that and we did it again. I just wish that we didn't get into those ruts and we will obviously work on that for tomorrow."
TENNESSEE TECH QUOTES
HEAD COACH JOHN BLAIR
"That's not the way anybody wants their season to end, but there's only one team, however, in the tournament that's going to finish with a win and it's not going to be us. It was an excellent effort by a game team, and I think that Tulane and the NCAA know who Tennessee Tech is now. I think we represented ourselves quite well, and I'm certainly proud of everybody on the team."
On the way his team played tonight against Tulane
"We played an outstanding match, it was one of those you really wish was in the fifth set right now, but that's where we are, so we can live with that.
On his team's goals coming into the NCAA Tournament
"We talked about representing the conference as well as ourselves and Tennessee Tech. I think our conference is a very strong conference, and has been gaining recognition throughout the course of the season for the last three or four years. Hopefully our conference can continue to move forward and show some progress; then we can start coming to this thing thinking about going forward, rather than just being here."
On the Tulane Green Wave and their performance tonight
`That's a roster that looks quite young, but a lot of those players have international experience and some of them have many years of international experience. So I knew they weren't going to walk away from the match. We put ourselves in a position to win the match, and it's hard to ask anything more of this group than that."
SETTER KAPPY LANG
On the jump serve of Tulane's Sara Radosevic
"She was just really aggressive, so you've got to give her credit for that. I'm sure she's been doing that all season, but she stayed aggressive and did her thing."
On the loss and the state of the Tennessee Tech program
"It was definitely not the way any of us wanted to end our careers, but if you look at it [the program] from freshman year to now, it's night and day. So you have to look at the positives, which obviously isn't easy to do right now."
MIDDLE BLOCKER JESSICA ASPLUND
On the adjustments made between the first and second sets
"We just worked harder, and after that first set we got a good look at them. With myself, I just realized that I hadn't gotten any blocks and that definitely wasn't where it needed to be. We just found our tempo in the second set, and it was definitely a momentum booster. One thing we've struggled with all year has been closing out matches."