Volleyball Coach Craig Skinner 's Press Conference
Sept. 2, 2008
Volleyball Press Conference
Head Coach Craig Skinner
"I think it's exciting for me as a volleyball coach to be going into our season after the success the USA teams had in the Olympics. They just dominated with three gold medals and a silver medal in four events. I think all across the country I get the feeling that volleyball is on the rise, not only in this country but it's the second most popular sport in the world. When we get going, we'll have a returning All-American, and All-SEC Player and another All-SEC Performer coming back, a two year starter and a setter which is basically your quarterback. In our lineup we have a true freshman, and I think we have a great balance of experience and youth. I think that showed in the way we played all weekend. There were some unbelievable games against Pittsburgh. Friday night, we handled them pretty easily in a couple of games and then our inexperience showed in the fourth game when we lost. The toughness we showed in that match was pretty nice to see, wining 21-19. Another thing on top of that match, my new assistant coach Chris Beerman was a former head coach at Pittsburgh so there was a little bit of an emotional tie to that match with their players and our players as well. We had a good win to start the season; and then we beat Western Carolina 3-0 the next morning. The consistency and effort was great to see. Then we faced Wisconsin who was ranked 13th at the time and is now 10th in the country. They were a very good team, always a top-15 program in the country. I thought we had a chance to beat them. We can compete with teams like that. We had an 18-14 lead in game three, but we let it slip away. It's time that we start proving that we're one of those programs. We're making a couple of adjustments in practice.
We have Morehead State tonight. Jamie Gordon is a great head coach and a former assistant coach here at Kentucky, so it will be an exciting match for them and for us to play a team within the state. This weekend we go to Maryland. We play St. John's on Friday who were regional finalists last year. We play Missouri who is always in the top half of the Big 12. And we play Maryland who has a new head coach who was at Dayton the pass few years and took that program to the top-15. It's a real exciting weekend for us and we're excited to get the season going."
On taking what he learned from last week's tournament and improving for the upcoming tournament...
"It's tough to play three matches in two days. But, how we are able to sustain a level of intensity and focus with a balance of youth and experience will be a key. Scoring a lot of points in volleyball is very important and we need to put the right people in the right position. We're putting more players in the outside hitting position which is something we want to emphasize more this season. We need to be able to do that against the best teams. If we don't have the right people in the right positions, then we can't beat the top teams in the country."
On the affect the Olympics has on volleyball's popularity...
"I think the success that beach volleyball has had across the world is pretty impressive in the last 10 years. It's an amazing sport. You have to have to be able to jump and move in the sand, which is very difficult. Misty May, for example, won a national championship at Long Beach State as a setter and is now a two-time gold medalist in the Olympics. I think it says a lot about our sport. The United States dominated in a sport that is not a mainstream sport here. I think this says that there is a lot of potential for that sport in this country. It's an exciting time and a lot of fun to be apart of."
On the growing popularity of volleyball in Kentucky...
"We've more than tripled our crowds in Memorial Coliseum. The web streaming on the internet has been fantastic. You'll see billboards around town. The club volleyball here in Lexington had 280 athletes last year. Only 700 fewer athletes in Kentucky play volleyball verses women's basketball. I would have thought the discrepancy would have been a couple thousand or so. I think it's growing now and will continue to."