November 27th Quotes: Coach Rose, Kaitlyn Hord, Kendall White, Bryanna Weiskircher

Check out the transcript from Tuesday’s Penn State women’s volleyball media availability featuring quotes from Russ Rose, Kaitlyn Hord, Kendall White, and Bryanna Weiskircher.

The No. 8 seed Nittany Lions (23-7) host Howard Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Rec Hall in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Coach Rose on Howard:

“They’re a really good, athletic, enthusiastic team. We’ve played them three or four years in a row and we played them earlier in the year and they always play hard. They’ve got great athleticism and they play fast. This year, we played at Howard, so that was a new experience. It was a fun one. It was a really energetic and enthusiastic facility.”

Coach Rose on last weekend:

“I thought Friday we had just a lot more energy and I thought Saturday — even though we had three or four match points — I just thought we really were flat from the beginning. Wisconsin’s way too good of an opponent to think you’re going to have success if you’re not playing at a high level consistently. On the upside, when we play well, we have the potential to play with the top teams. When we don’t have great energy and we’re not connecting, we cause ourselves a lot of challenges that sometimes we can’t overcome.”

Coach Rose on his team’s fatigue level:

“I think they were really disappointed with the outcome on Saturday, but I think they were disappointed with how they played more than the outcome. It’s not like we were surprised that Wisconsin is good. I thought we had a good game plan and I thought we had some parts of the match where we looked really good, but I just thought some people had a real tough time bouncing back from playing really well on one night to the next night.

“We don’t have a lot of depth and when I went to the bench with a couple of people, they didn’t really provide the necessary energy and performance that we might have hoped for. That’s part of youth and that’s just part of trying to get a team better. It’s unfortunate when you waste great opportunities, especially at home, but that is kind of the business we’re in.”

Coach Rose on Penn State’s freshmen:

“It’s a challenge for the freshmen because I really think they’re accustomed to high school volleyball where their seasons have wrapped up already and they’re probably getting for the holiday break and their club seasons to get started. We’ve tried to address that. We’ve tried to taper some practices to give them some windows of time to try and recharge their batteries. Half the team are freshmen and it’s just hard to get all of them on the same page when you’re talking about something as important as that. Some of it’s the comprehension, but we’ll see.

“I thought we played hard in probably half the games over the weekend. I don’t think we played great in all of the games against Minnesota, but again those were two great opponents. I’m glad at least we were playing at home. Last year, we played those same two teams on the road and had to beat both of them to win the Big Ten. That’s the difference is last year we had a bunch of seniors and were able to do that, and this year we have a bunch of freshmen. It’s a whole different conversation before the match and after the match.”

Coach Rose on finding the right lineup formula:

“I think I’m probably about 50/50 on doing it well. I’m more of just a straight shooter and tell them what I think. I base my conversation on what I see, not what I think they’re thinking, because I just don’t think that’s fair from a coaching standpoint to say something like that. I think a lot of times their perception is different than the reality of how they feel and how they’re playing. You’d like to think that some of the older players would be better, and I thought a couple of them played well the first night and they didn’t bounce back great the next night. And it’s really unfair to expect the freshmen to be able to carry that sort of important role.”

Coach Rose on thinking back to previous large freshman classes:

“I’ve tried as many things that I think would work. I don’t think I’ve ever had a roster that was half freshmen. There was one point against Minnesota where we had five freshmen on the floor, so that was sitting there and saying, ‘Oh yeah, this should work out okay.’ I think everybody’s trying. That’s one of the givens. I tell the players all the time, ‘Every team cares. It’s how much do you care.’ It’s what do you do when nobody’s watching. Are you really trying to close the gap on the other teams and making your game better and getting the proper rest and things that you need so that you’re mentally and physically prepared to give at least your best effort when it’s needed?”

Coach Rose on scouting this weekend’s opponents:

“I finished Howard this morning and I’m in the middle of looking at Syracuse now. Then when I’m done with Syracuse, I’ll look at Yale, because I don’t predict who’s going to win. I’m not looking at teams next week because I’ve got to worry about this week. I don’t have a bracket that I’m filling all the way through. I’m not involved in any gambling pools to figure out who’s going to win the matches in all the other brackets.

“I do a scouting report on our first opponent and then I do a preliminary on the other two teams. I watch the other match and am there taking notes. I just finished throwing away previous Yale files from two and three years ago when they played here. I think the new wave, everybody has it in their computers and is doing things like that, but unfortunately I missed that instructional session. I’m still doing it by paper and watching videos.”

Coach Rose on Yale coach Erin Appleman:

“I’m proud of Erin as well as a lot of other people who are affiliated with the program. Syracuse’s director of operations is [State College native] Hallie Morse and her picture is right here [in my office] when she was 12 years old, because when she was that age and Rec Hall was open, I was teaching her and two or three other girls how to play volleyball all the time. There are a lot of people who have come through the program and are out coaching, but Erin’s done a great job and has had great success at Yale. We’ve got a couple of people associated with our program in the Big Ten as well. I want them to have great success, just not when they’re playing us.”

Coach Rose on his dialogue with Bryanna Weiskircher:

“I was disappointed in my effort. If I were wise, I would have taken both Bryanna and Jonni out [against Wisconsin], because I thought they both really under-performed on Saturday. But I’ve been pretty consistent through my career of always giving the players the benefit of the doubt that they’ll play through their down cycle if they’ve earned the chance to be out there. Certainly when Salima [Rockwell] was here, I would let her spend more time talking to the setters and when I wanted to get involved I would bug in. Bryanna’s an experienced player and I trust that she knows what’s going on. I know she’s real disappointed with how she played on Saturday for sure.”

Coach Rose on creating a winning culture here:

“It’s been a great effort. I don’t think any program in any sport is done by one person. I think a university allows people to have the opportunity to be successful. The athletic department has to support you. You have to be given the resources. They have to give you the freedom and flexibility to do it your way most of the time.

“You need a good staff and you always need good players. There are so many things that really contribute to having something that can sustain itself over an extended period of time. I tell the players all the time, ‘I care about this team. I don’t care about last year’s team.’ I remember some things about last year’s team — and some were good and some were very disappointing — and I feel the same way about this year’s team. We’re trying to do as much as we can with the amount of time we have left.”

Coach Rose on playing at home this weekend:

“Being at home is something that you earned over the course of the season [through] your body of work. It’s always helpful especially if you look at the travel problems that teams might be having in the Midwest with the snow storm happening right there that could jam up people with their travel plans. Hopefully the players rest. We’re coming off a week where we didn’t have any classes. It’s not like we were practicing eight hours a day. We were in the gym for a couple hours a day and the players had time to rest up and do things.

“Playing a match at 8 o’clock and being done close to midnight and playing against a team that seemed to have a little more rest than us the next day seemed to be a little more of a factor. Certainly I hope that the players are trying to get as much rest as they can. Being at home is always an advantage for everybody. It’s not a guarantee. We’ve lost matches at home in the NCAA tournament and we’ve won matches on the road. If you’re not hosting, you’re hoping that your team is good enough to have success on the road. That’s what everybody who’s traveling is thinking this week. If we can get through this weekend, I’ll be thinking like that next weekend.”

Kaitlyn Hord on her first NCAA tournament:

Kaitlyn Hord

“I don’t think being a freshman makes it any different than being an upperclassman. I think we all have a good understanding of what’s going on in the season and what we have to do to progress.”

Kaitlyn Hord on keeping a level-headed approach:

“Being at home definitely helps with our emotions and just being positive when we’re playing at home, but I would say that we just go out and have a great time. Sometimes we can get a little too casual, but I think as long as we stay positive and have fun out on the court we’re an unstoppable team.”

Kaitlyn Hord on who she leans on in big moments:

“Definitely Jonni. As of the late, as of the whole season, she’s been our rock. She’s just always someone who’s consistent that we can go to. She’s always there to help us out.”

Kaitlyn Hord on the differences between playing for a state championship and a national title:

“For high school, we made it to state once. It was a very exciting experience. We had amazing moments that we were able to share as a team. College, it’s a whole other level. I would say the competition is so different. All the teams that we could face are definitely great competition.”

Kaitlyn Hord on last weekend’s pair of five-set matches:

“I think it just proves that we do have what it takes to go all the way. We just have to make sure that we’re giving it our all at all times and having fun.”

Kaitlyn Hord on looking up to the veterans:

“Kendall’s just a burst of energy. That Red Bull before the match gets her going and we all feed off of her energy. Bryanna’s just our rock. She’s always consistent. Nia [Reed’s] a monster. She’s just a beast. Taylor [Leath] is what we call the ‘grandma’ of the team. She’s been really great this season passing and hitting. [The freshmen] all just kind of feed off of them and we learn a lot from them.”

Kaitlyn Hord on the best part of volleyball celebrations:

“Just seeing the look on everyone’s faces and how we’re all so happy. It’s just an amazing feeling. It warms your heart just to see everyone so excited.”

Kendall White on the NCAA tournament:

Kendall White

“I think we’re pretty energized. I don’t think any of us are really exhausted. We do the rehab and we do what we need to do to keep our bodies fresh. We’re really pumped and ready to go.”

Kendall White on whether she has to motivate the young players:

“I personally don’t think that what year you are matters. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, senior — you have to play at the highest level. I’m more of the ‘Energizer Bunny.’ That’s what I call myself sometimes. Just keeping them involved, keeping them excited and upbeat, and giving them confidence is all they need.”

Kendall White on where her relentless energy comes from:

“I don’t know. I was born this way. If you’re going to play a sport, you need to play with passion. I love volleyball and I wouldn’t be playing it if it wasn’t fun and I didn’t like it. I’ve just kind of always been like that. We’ve been in the gym every single day this week. I think that you should have more energy when the stakes get higher. You should be way more amped up and way more excited. I love the pressure in tournament time.”

Kendall White on whether Coach Rose acts differently come postseason:

“I don’t think he acts differently, because he expects the highest level all season long. We play in one of the toughest conferences, so it’s like we play in the Elite Eight all year long. He scouts twice as long, which is saying something for Coach because he loves to scout. He’s been saying, ‘Play with confidence. Do the most you possibly can. You only have so little time here at Penn State. Use it wisely.’ He really harps on making every moment matter and every practice count.”

Kendall White on positive signs from the team:

“We’ve definitely made big strides from the beginning of the season. The girls have gotten way more comfortable in their position and roles. Like I’ve been saying all year long, we have so much potential. I don’t think we’ve come even close to reaching it. I think that’s definitely an advantage for us coming into the tournament. We can get better every single week with every opponent that we play.”

Kendall White on the single-elimination mindset:

“That pushes us and that drives us. I don’t think that you can win a national championship if you can’t handle that kind of pressure. If you’re scared to go into a match just because you might lose or it might be your last match, you can’t think that or you’re going to lose. You have to play with confidence and you have to play with no fear.”

Kendall White on Kaitlyn Hord and Serena Gray:

“What makes Kaitlyn and Serena different is they’re very quirky and they do a really good job of bouncing back. They have short-term memory. That’s a good thing for us. When they make a mistake, they bounce back really quickly. They have really good attitudes and it’s nice to have that on the team. I know some middles blockers around the country that we play against have big egos and I think they’re the opposite of that. I think they’re very humble and they’re here for the team.”

Bryanna Weiskircher on last weekend:

Bryanna Weiskircher

“Obviously it was a tough weekend playing against two top 10 teams. I think that we did a pretty good job, but at the same time it’s prep for the tournament. Having to play until almost midnight on Friday and then turn around on Saturday and have the same energy and emotional level that we had on Friday night was definitely a challenge.”

Bryanna Weiskircher on expectations for the freshmen:

“We’ve all had high expectations throughout the entire season and I think that the freshmen have done a great job. We don’t always want to consider them freshmen all year long. I think that from the beginning of the season to now we’re an entirely different team. The freshmen seem excited to be in the NCAA tournament for the first time, so I’m looking forward to it with them.”

Bryanna Weiskircher on what she’s told them about the tournament:

“We try to just get them to understand that everyone’s on a clean slate. Everything that happened before doesn’t even matter at this point. We prepare the same no matter who we’re playing and we always have all year long — whether it’s the top of the Big Ten, bottom of the Big Ten, anybody. We’re going to go out there to win every game.”

Bryanna Weiskircher on playing a familiar opponent in Howard:

“We play Howard almost every year. They’re a great team. There are a lot of athletic kids on their team and it’s a lot of fun to play against them. I think that they’re going to come in here ready to win and we’re going to give them our best just like we would any other team.”

Bryanna Weiskircher on Jonni Parker’s performance Saturday:

“Fatigue is definitely a factor, but at the same time Jonni is an incredible athlete and an incredible volleyball player. She might have had an off night on Saturday, but she did a great job on Friday. I think it’s everyone being able to step up at the same time. Going five with Wisconsin Saturday was a real test and it showed that everyone on the team has to be able to contribute. No matter the night, everyone has to play at their highest level. I love setting Jonni and she’s always calling for the ball. I trust her with everything. In those moments, it’s one of those things where we have to get her going again even if she’s having a tough night.”

Bryanna Weiskircher on her and Kendall White’s celebrations:

“She’s just crazy and she has a lot of energy. It’s a great thing. Obviously my body doesn’t appreciate it when she punches me really hard, but if it gets her fired up and it gets other people fired up and we win the point, hey, whatever. I’ll take one for the team.”

Bryanna Weiskircher on what makes this year’s team different:

“Every team is unique and I think that this team has something special where we do really get along both on the court and off the court. That chemistry of being able to help the younger kids, it’s a new experience for them as well as for us [veterans] being in the leadership role that we’re in. From last year to this year, it’s just a new game. It’s the same way for every team in the tournament. It’s a new season. Nothing that happened before matters.”