Quotes from the UCLA Media Opportunity

Dec. 8, 2011

UCLA Head Coach Michael Sealy

Opening statement
“For our program, this is obviously a great tradition. We have national championships and a lot of success in the past. It’s the first time we’ve been to a regional in a little while since we didn’t make it the last two years. It’s great to be back. It’s obviously a very tough regional. There’s the four-time defending national champion and the No. 1 seed. There’s a lot of tradition in this bracket. You’ve got a great Kentucky team as the host. There’s no easy match here.”

On whether Penn State is the best team he’s seen this year…
“They’re definitely the most physical. I have to figure out where Russ (Rose) keeps cloning these athletes because they are just unbelievable. I’d rather play them this year when they are freshman and sophomores because they are going to be pretty unbelievable in two years when they’re juniors and seniors. Physicality wise, I think the PAC-12 is usually strong. I think when Stanford played that Nike Invitational Tournament and beat Penn State and beat Texas and Florida, all of the sudden the PAC-12 got evolved into the upper echelon, which isn’t necessarily the case. I think we all think it’s a great conference. All of the teams had issues and weakness that we all exploited and after seeing how the tournament is unfolding and watching some of the Big 10 matches, it’s a very physical conference.”

On how changing time zones affect the team…
“We don’t do time zones. We’re here and we go. I think we’re fine.”

On the team’s mindset going into this match against Penn State…
“What we’ve been working on the last couple weeks about our opponents is that they’re just shirts. They’re just people that show up and they’re a necessary factor for us to start our match and play our game. It doesn’t matter who it is. I thought early on that maybe we’d peaked, but we’ve been playing great as of late. We’re not too worried about who’s across the net. The one thing they have going for them is that no one on the floor knows what it’s like to lose a match in the tournament. There’s some self-fulfilling prophecy that’s great for them. We’ve just got to focus on our game. If we can play the best game of our season and do what we’d like to do as a team then we move on. That’s out of our control. We may play our best match and it may not be enough. We may play a terrible match and it may be enough. You just don’t know.”

On whether he likes the role that his team is in facing the defending national champions…
“Once again, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing in the (round of) 16, whether it’s an underdog that squeaked in or it’s the No. 1 seed or defending champion. We have to play UCLA volleyball. That’s all we can focus on.”

On what UCLA volleyball is…
“I don’t know yet. I think we’re a nice hybrid of ball control and physicality. Our starting line-up can be 6-foot-5, 6-foot-3, 6-foot- 4, and big enough to compete. I think we’ve got enough ball control pieces that we don’t always have to play ‘big-girl’ volleyball. If we can stay in system with that physicality, we’ll be pretty good.”

On his thoughts on the UK program and how well he knows Kentucky coach Craig Skinner…
“To tell you the truth, I’ve been kind of isolated on an island in Hawaii for the last four years before the last season. I try not to spend a lot of time focused on the rest of the country. I just met him really for the first time this summer while out recruiting. He’s a great guy, very charismatic. I bumped into this guy at the airport here this morning when we were picking up rental cars and I loved that he had his little country drawl. He was just talking about basketball and how he doesn’t really watch too much football but ever since [Craig] Skinner got here, he’s been watching volleyball and he’s really gotten out and promoted it. He’s made this gentleman at the airport a fan in just the past few years. I’m sure that’s what he’s doing across the state, which is great.”

#11 Rachael Kidder, Junior, Outside Hitter

On the strength of the regional…
“It definitely is a tough regional, but I don’t think we are so much focused on how tough it’s going to be. I think we are worried about ourselves more. As long as we do what we’re supposed to be doing and play to the best of our team’s ability we can handle any team.”

On what it will take to beat Penn State…
“We have to be able to run our offense no matter what’s happening, if we’re in system or out of system. They are really physical so out of system plays, which we struggled with in the past, are definitely going to have to be better.”

#6 Lainey Gera, Senior, Liebro/Defensive Specialist

On what UCLA must do successfully to take down Penn State…
“Everything that Rachel (Kidder) said and on top of that, ball control. I think it’s really important because these girls out there are huge. They are very physical girls and I think if we can frustrate them enough with our ball control, that can really mess them up mentally and I think that could definitely play a big factor in tomorrow’s game.”