Opening Remarks by Coach Rose
I think we’re excited about the start of the year, to have an opportunity to see where we are, and to see some new faces on the other side of the net, and to get into main gym, and to see where this collection of people are at this time. We have a new roster of players, but a lot of times the expectations are really high, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t continue to have high expectations. They are a lot of unknowns when you’re playing with so many young people, and I think one of the exciting things about coaching is to see how that comes together.
Question: How much have you seen from the freshman so far, adjusting to the college life and the college game.
Coach Rose: It’s hard to say how they’ve adjusted to college life because they’ve only had class for one day, but I they all said they went to class yesterday and they all showed up to practice. But I think the things that they don’t know is the part that you can only hold out hopes that they’re going to be able to adjust. You can identify the challenges that are going to be out there — how demanding the conference is traditionally; how tough it is to play on the road; how good the teams are and how talented they are. But there’s a lot to be said for young people that have a good skillset and have a winning tradition themselves where they came from, and they came to Penn State because they want to continue the success that we’ve had. I think all of the freshmen have made a point that they’re here for a good reason.
Question: You mentioned how good the Big Ten is. How important is it to you to get off to a good start in the preseason so that you’re ready for that grind every week?
Coach Rose: I always look it as three seasons. The preseason is the schedule that the coaches put together. The Big Ten season is the schedule that the Conference puts together. And the postseason is what the NCAA puts together. The first two lead to the third if you’re fortunate. Certainly, with the youngsters that we have we want to have a chance to see how we play, and how the connections work, and what group of players look good together. We play a couple of weekends at home, and then after that we go out to Stanford and we play Stanford and Oregon. So that will certainly give us a preliminary check into how good we do against teams that are like the top teams in the Conference.
I think it’s hard to win when you’re supposed to win. So one of the relaxing things for this group is that they don’t have some of the expectations placed on them as some our previous teams did when they came in ranked first in the conference and first in the country. This is a group that will have a chance to play some of those teams that are ranked that high, and to see how they stack up and see how they compete. I’ve seen flashes in practice where I think we compete really well and we compete hard, and the question is can we sustain it against opponents that are veteran players and players that have played well for extended periods of time with each other in tough situations. That’s why you play and that’s what you hope to see.
Question: What leadership role do you see for Kendall White on this team?
Coach Rose: Kendall does what Kendall does: she plays hard. The players maybe take a step back and just watch that. But I think we have three or four people that are wired in a similar fashion. So they maybe recognize that that’s an acceptable behavior and trait in our facility — that you can go hard, and you can have multiple people going for the same ball. I think Kendall plays a good role and I think she’s had a good preseason. She plays hard. A lot of the kids are really beat up — South Gym is hot and really slippery. If we were playing on ice, with slippery surfaces, we’d be way better than a lot of other teams, because in our preseason practices we keep having to move from court-to-court because we have to stop and dry the court floor. The girls are really accustomed to doing splits and being in uncomfortable positions trying to play the ball, and Kendall is one of the players who’s pretty dramatic about those moves.
Question: Do you think Kendall White’s intensity sets an example for the other players?
Coach Rose: I think she has intensity. I think sometimes people’s intensity can be misinterpreted. But I think we have other people who have intensity. I thought last year Aby [Detering] had great passion that I was a big fan of. I loved the way she played and exhibited her enthusiasm on the floor. But I think all the players have their own ways of doing things, and there’s a couple of young people that I addressed that, because I think that’s one of the beauties of women’s volleyball — you have opportunities to have good expression when you do things, and celebrate with your teammates. That’s one of the things that I like to see from the bench. I don’t enjoy a stoic style of play. I like it when the kids have great passion and smiles and have a lot of fun. And we’ve got some kids that are pretty excited to play out there. And that’s the whole thing about the preseason — you get to play and you see. Sometimes people play at a certain level and you hope they play a little better. I’m sure some of them are going to be a little nervous and serve balls in strange places, and things are going to happen. I’m just going to sit there and shake my head, and say that’s pretty much what an 18-year old does under pressure, and hope that she doesn’t do it in every gym in the Big Ten, and that you get better and move on.
Question: You mentioned expectations remain high every year. What are your expectations for this season?
Coach Rose: I think the expectations are for the players to get better and to compete at a high level. Even when we had the teams that won multiple consecutive national championships we never talked about winning streaks, we never talked about the National Championships. We talked about those players getting better every day. We graduated four players last year that went and played professional volleyball. They got better, and they understood the concept of getting better. And these players that are here now have to understand the concept of getting better. I tell the players all the time: there are going to be matches where you play really well and you lose and there are going to be some matches where maybe you don’t play great and you win, and you have to able to separate the performance from the outcome — how you’re trying to improve your game and what you can bring to make the team better. So the expectations are about the players getting better, and working hard, and getting a good experience. There’s only a few veteran players on the team, so hopefully those individuals can leave a positive path and direction for the younger kids.