September 11th Quotes: Coach Rose, Nia Reed, Serena Gray, Kaitlyn Hord

Check out the highlights from Tuesday’s media availability at Rec Hall. Russ Rose, Nia Reed, Serena Gray, and Kaitlyn Hord fielded questions ahead of Penn State’s trip to Washington, D.C., for a trio of weekend matches.

Coach Rose on Kaitlyn Hord:

Kaitlyn Hord

“I thought she had a nice weekend, for sure. She’s young and she does the things that she’s comfortable doing. I thought we had a little better ball control on Saturday and were able to get the ball to her a little bit more. She scored really well against Oregon, but I thought she had a good match against Stanford. I’m also realistic to the fact that she’s young and there’s a real big learning curve. She works hard and she has a real nice disposition, so those are all positive things.”

Coach Rose on Stanford match:

“It would have been interesting if we had held on to win the first game how we would have handled it. I thought some air kind of left us a little bit after the first game, and certainly Stanford settled down. I think we hit like .350 the first game and lost. For us to hit at that number, we played really well offensively. Young players, I think there’s lessons for them to learn from a match like that.”

Coach Rose on the team’s leadership:

“I haven’t seen a great deal of [vocal leadership] just yet, but I think the energy of the group is good. I think they like each other. It seems to be a group that enjoys each other’s company, but it’s really early in the season. The stress really hasn’t hit yet and academics hasn’t taken its toll on them yet. They’ve only gone on the one trip. Stanford, although it’s a long trip, is a nice place to go visit. Hopefully we’ll be able to make the trip this weekend even though there’s a storm heading to that part of the country. We’ll see how that plays itself out.”

Coach Rose on Nia Reed:

Nia Reed

“I thought Nia came out and played really well against Stanford offensively. She knows what we need her to do. She needs to carry a heavy load offensively and I think she’s always trained for that. She’s an individual that likes to hit the ball and likes to get in the gym and work hard. I feel pretty comfortable that Nia’s ready for what the season will hold from a physical standpoint.”

Coach Rose on freshman class:

“We’re certainly more dependent on this freshman group right now. There were times over the weekend where we had both freshman middles out there and Allyson [Cathey] and Jonni [Parker] and Gabby [Blossom] and Jenna [Hampton] all out there. At some point in time, we had five or six freshmen rotating in and out with Kendall [White] as the only veteran. We need Bryanna [Weiskircher] to be a strong leader and Taylor [Leath] to help these people. If we can pass, we can compete. I think all teams feel the same way about that.”

Nia Reed on Kaitlyn Hord:

“My favorite thing about Kaitlyn is that she didn’t even know what Big Ten freshman of the week was. It was like she had no idea. I told her yesterday and she’s not even worried about that stuff. How she can come to this program and be so dominant and not even know what Big Ten freshman of the week is and how big that is, that just shows a lot about her. I remember in preseason she went a day where she had probably 15 blocks in a row. Nobody could get the ball past her. She comes in as a freshman, puts people in body bags, and does what she does. She’s a string bean. No one even knows how good this girl is because she’s so skinny and doesn’t have a lot of muscle yet, but she’s definitely a dominant force on the court.”

Kaitlyn Hord on Oregon match:

“There’s definitely room for improvement. Me personally, I’m always looking to improve. During the Oregon match, I felt as soon as we stepped out on the court we had the match won. I felt like from the beginning we controlled the game all the way until the end.”

Nia Reed on Kendall White’s presence:

“Kendall’s presence is very steady. Kendall does what she does. Every game it’s the same. She gets her digs. Kendall’s crazy, but we need that. We need that steady force on the court — someone who’s always focused, always knows what’s going on — and that’s Kendall.”

Nia Reed on how freshmen have helped her:

“As an upperclassman, I have more of a leadership role. The freshmen have taught me a lot about staying calm, because I can get kind of head-crazy. I know I can’t be that way with four freshmen on the court.”

Nia Reed on her advice for the freshmen:

“I just tell them to keep their head. They’re the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, so just have a little bit of confidence and backbone and relax. They just need to relax, take a deep breath. We’re going to make mistakes. We’ve just got to go [on] to the next play.”

Kaitlyn Hord on how she’s improved:

“Listening and then communication has definitely improved. On my past teams, I wasn’t the best at communication, but moving on with this team, that’s a big part of Penn State volleyball…We aren’t playing as individuals. We’re playing together as a team and we’re all there for each other. If we make a mistake, we’re like, ‘Hey, you’ve got the next ball.’ We’re making sure that every person is positive.”

Serena Gray on committing to Penn State:

Serena Gray

“It was sophomore year and it was on my visit. I had just arrived on campus. You know when you get that feeling that something is right, I stepped on campus and it didn’t feel like I was at school. It felt like my home. I still had four more visits planned, but I knew that no matter where I visited it wasn’t going to feel the same. I did visit other schools and it never felt the same. It was more so the community and the atmosphere that made me feel like I wanted to go to Penn State.”

Serena Gray on the standard of success:

“There’s so many girls that came before us who built this program up. We have the responsibility to uphold this program. Every year, Penn State is held to a higher standard than most schools. We’re tied for the most national championships, and with that comes a great responsibility to not tear down what people worked so hard to bring up.”

Serena Gray on Kaitlyn Hord:

“She’s come such a long way. Coming from preseason to now, she’s just gotten a lot stronger. She’s gotten a lot faster. She can read the game, which is something I wish I was better at. She can tell where the setter’s going before the ball’s even released out of her hands. She just works really hard in transition every time to get up and that’s something I want to work on. Kaitlyn never gets down on the court. She always adds to the atmosphere on the court and just brings positivity, which is something I try to do. I really look at her as an example.”

Serena Gray on her parents watching her play:

“My parents took a flight up from Pasadena and they watched us play during the Stanford match. They loved it. It was nice to see them again. I got to see my club teammate, Kylie Robinson, who plays on the Oregon team, so it’s really great just to have that little sense of home with you.”

Serena Gray on advice of upperclassmen:

“I would say they really emphasize going hard for every point. Taylor [Leath] just said it yesterday. ‘Having intention with every ball.’ Consciously work on something every practice, don’t just play. The seniors talk a lot about how it’s going to be over before you know it. If you don’t make the most out of every practice and every rep, you’re really not doing anything at all for yourself or for the team.”