Aug. 21, 2008
On receiving votes in the AVCA Preseason Top 25
"Tulane volleyball has never started a season receiving votes in the Top 25. I think it is a good place for us to be because I think it is a very attainable goal for us. I think we are going to surpass it, though, with the way these kids are working. The schedule that we have over the next three weeks is going to be a test. Are we 38th are we much higher than that? I believe in aiming high, much higher than 38th. But we haven't proven anything yet. We have to prove it to the entire volleyball world. That's what the season is about. That's what the pre-conference portion of our season is for. Before we go into conference play, we have to prove to ourselves and to everybody else that we belong in the Top 25 and then stay there."
On being able to move up in the poll with the early-season matches
"To be a top team, you have to play top teams. That's what the entire pre-conference schedule is about. It gives us an opportunity to knock off teams that are ranked ahead of us. When we made the schedule, we knew that a number of them would be ranked in the preseason Top 25. That's exactly why we wanted to play them - not just for the RPI points, but because that is the level this team has to play consistently when we go into conference play. If we want to hit our mark of winning the conference championship, winning the conference tournament, making history and being the first Tulane team to make the NCAAs, we have to play at that level more than just one or two matches a season. We have to play at that level match after match and weekend after weekend. This season is the first time I think we are going to be able to do it."
On Saturday's scheduled scrimmage
"Every team in the county at this point is tired of playing themselves. This intrasquad scrimmage is a good chance for us to test a couple of a different lineups and test ourselves against what will be a physically tougher team and more experienced team because the coaches are going to play against them. The idea is that we are preparing them to face the best team in each of the tournaments that we are going to play. This scrimmage is not going to be about coming out, working out the kinks, trying to run through our rotations and those types of things. It is going to be about finding ways to win when you are down by a certain amount of points, about how to beat a big block and how to come back against teams that may have more firepower than we do. We are going to stack a team against our projected starting lineup and we are going to have to learn to fight. It is going to be very hard fought scrimmage, and it is intended to be just that. We need to be challenged. I need to know how they are going to respond when they drop a game and how they come back and play in the next one. It is going to be about fine tuning things that we probably will not be able to see two or three weeks into the season.
On if the team has its entire system installed
"We have a couple of different lineup scenarios but the system is what has been our strength. The system that has helped us get into the Top 15 in offense has been running a 6-2 system with two setters and putting our best attackers front row as much as possible. A lot of times we have been able to play with teams that are `better than us' because we could swing with them. If you can side-out and have the ability to put the ball away, you can play at a much higher level. We have focused on our first contact, our defense, our blocking and our serving in order to be able to play with teams that have just as much, if not more, firepower than us."
On what Tulane needs to do in order to improve on last year's 28-6 record
"We need to improve our first contact and we need to understand the nuances of the game. We need to understand how error-free we need to play at the end of the game - the last segment of our games. It is a different game this year. We play to 25 points instead of 30. Teams that can score early on are going to have an advantage because you want to get a lead and play point-for-point all the way through the end of the game. If you can get that lead early on and have players that can score right away, you will have an advantage in this shorter game. Five points makes a big difference and it is going to change the whole scenario. The good news is we have coaches who have coaching in this situation and we have players who have played to 25 points before."
On losing senior middle blocker Lauren Boatwright due to injury
"It's been a tough road for Lauren, but we have kind of seen it coming. She has been trying to come back through her best efforts and our medical staff's best efforts to get her back on the court. But it really is in her best interest and this team's best interest that she assumes a different role. It is a really important role for us. Her character, her leadership and her volleyball know-how comes into play not so much on the court blocking and hitting for us, but coaching. Seeing things as an older, experienced player in a leadership role is something that she can share with the team. She is going to be invaluable because she is going to be able to help train and talk with the younger players when they are coming off. She knows this game. She has seen it. She knows how to play middle for me in this system and she understands what I expect. She will be another set of eyes and she has a good head on her shoulders to help this group face its most challenging season ever."