Quotes from the Texas Media Opportunity

Dec. 8, 2011

Texas Head Coach Jerritt Elliott

Opening statement...
“We are excited to be here, obviously. We appreciate Kentucky hosting the event. We know it's going to be a very challenging regional, I personally feel it’s the toughest regional in all the four brackets. I think a good team is going to come out of here. We are excited to play Kentucky and we have a lot of respect for them. We know they were just a few points shy of winning the SEC. Craig (Skinner) has done a phenomenal job here, and we are excited to get going.”

On playing Kentucky on its home floor...
“You know, it's one of the benefits, at least we know each season who we are going to schedule. Early on we schedule very difficult and on the road to try to get to a point where we feel comfortable playing on the road. We started off a little shaky, but we were very young and built a lot of confidence. I think we are in a good spot now. Overall, on this season, we have played a little bit better on the road than at home. I think that is a tribute to our preseason, our girls just feel comfortable in it, and they played in big environments before. I think the bigger the environment, the more energy and enthusiasm they have to play.”  

On what kind of a challenge Kentucky presents …
“I think Kentucky is one the most balanced teams we have played all year long. They may have the best balance of any team that we have played. They also have exceptional ball control, and are probably the best passing team that we have played all season. They have some nice characteristics, and obviously (Ashley) Frazier and (Whitney) Billings are very, very good. If they get hot it’s going to be a big problem for us. It will be a challenge. Anytime you play a team that is good with ball control and has balance, there are some complications. We will just have to play and go through some scouting reports with our team to try to give them a better understanding of what we will need to do, and simplify it for them to not overthink the process.”

On UK head coach Craig Skinner
“I know Craig (Skinner) well. I have a lot of respect for what he did over the years when he was at Nebraska and I think there is a new generation of coaches coming up. When he was hired here, I thought it was a phenomenal hire, a really, really good hire. He is one of the coaches that is down to earth, he is a really good guy, he does it the right way, and he treats his players really well. My daughter is getting ready to be recruited in the class of 2016, which doesn’t seem soon, but it is. I was saying that he would be one of the coaches I would let her play for because of how he treats his kids.”

On Kentucky and Texas having some common opponents and if he uses that in preparing game plans …
“Not necessarily. We have different strengths and weaknesses. You have to matchup hitting percentages and kill percentages. They have a lot of film on us, and I know we have a lot of film on them, so you can’t really take a lot out of that. Each team has their system, and they are going to run that system pretty much the whole time. They are not going to go out and make drastic changes. As coaches, you always want to execute on your side of the net.”

On his team’s current situation …
“Well we are really young. Early on, we started a lot of freshman and we had a lot of injuries. We were trying to figure out a lineup and we were finally able to make some switches. Some players really improved. All year long we have been preaching patience and getting better. I knew that they would be at this point later in the year. I knew that there was some urgency on their faces early, but I wanted them to get back in the gym and learn what we were doing to get confident in our system and be disciplined.’

On Madelyn Huston’s game …
“Madelyn (Huston) started early in the season for us. She is a very talented, very athletic, big middle blocker that can take up a lot of space. She is great in the blocking area. With her, it’s about getting confidence. That’s kind of been our goal over the last three weeks, is getting them to relax, have some confidence, have some swagger, and we have been able to see that. In the first game she was a little bit nervous, but before the second game, we sat her down and had a little chat with her. It was good to see because she is a big key to our success.”

On alleviating the stress of an NCAA Tournament …
“It depends on each program. There are a lot of things that you benefit from when you are at home. You get to sleep in your own bed and you know the cycle of what goes on. When you are on the road, it can be a challenge. The advantage for us is that we have been through this so much. Our itinerary and day-to-day schedule is to a ‘t’. There is not a whole lot of distractions, and that is the big key as a coach. You have to manage your players so they can relax and know what’s going on. We pretty much take care of their tickets, and take care of all of that stress, so they can focus on being good on the court.”

#15 Sydney Yogi, Senior, Libero

On what the team needs to do to advance to the Final Four...
“I think we just have to keep doing our same routines like Haley (Eckerman) said. It comes down to competing when things are on the line and wanting to be in tough situations. I think our team this year embraces that a lot. We've learned how to pull through and stick together.”

On a certain moment in the season that changed the team's mindset...
“I think there are a couple moments that really defined us early on. Our whole preseason schedule was tough, we suffered two 3-0 losses to Minnesota in the beginning. We weren't happy with that, we didn't feel like we competed well the first night, second night we came out a little better but we lost and knew we still had things to work on. Then going to Stanford and beating Penn State in five, we kind of fell apart in either the third or fourth game and we ended up winning in five. We just came out with a completely different energy level in the fifth game. Then the loss to Oklahoma really opened our eyes. We thought ‘This is not the team we want to be, this is not how we want to continue our season’. From then on it was really a commitment in the gym, in practice, working hard every day, not letting other teams stand in our way. From that time it was winning a Big 12 championship we had to go and win out. But I really think Oklahoma was the turning point that really made us realize that we can't just walk in and beat teams. They are going to play hard every single night, and we are going to have to work hard and want it more.”

#5 Rachael Adams, Senior, Middle Blocker

On playing close to home...
“I was actually talking about that with some of my teammates. I'm only an hour and a half away and this is the closest I've played my four years. It's an easy drive for friends and family and I couldn't be more excited.”

On how many people she has coming...
“I don't even want to know. I've been trying to avoid it and not think about it. I just have my mom deal with it along with our coordinator and they've been doing a good job. That helps me just focus and think about the game.”

#10 Haley Eckerman, Freshman, Outside Hitter

On playing in this type of environment with the season on the line...
“They have been talking about just playing, sticking to the same routines that we have been doing since day one, and to not lose focus of what our goal is and that's just to win this game.”

On how she is feeling physically …
“I feel the same as from the beginning of the season. It is crazy how quick the season went by, but like Jerritt (Elliott) said we do a good job of managing treatment and making sure we are getting everything ready to make sure we are prepared for a match.”