Below are quotes and pictures from Friday's pre-championship press conference with BYU head coach Chris McGown, Ben Patch and Russ Lavaja.
BYU head coach Chris McGown
“We are excited to be playing in the national championship match. I felt like we had a nice effort last night and did a lot of things really well, as well as a few things we want to get better at. We’re excited to be playing a very good UC Irvine team and expect that this match will be one of those phenomenal match-ups.”
On star power
“It comes down to teams that can execute and teams with good players that can execute in those big moments. There’s a guy from ESPN - Simmons, who talks about fact that the team with the best player in the series tends to win that series. I think that ultimately it comes down to personnel and executions and we‘ve got some phenomenal athletes on our team. They (UCI) certainly have some wonderful athletes on their team. I think that’s one of the things that they have that’s unlike any other program in the country, it’s the depth of talent. They’ve got guys that were two-deep on the bench that were all-conference players.
On UCI’s defense
“John [Speraw], I thought was masterful at getting his guys to play big in tough situations: down two, come back and win in five, down two, come back and win in five. They really had to battle through the conference championship last year to make it to this match. [This year] they’ve strung together a wonderful season, battled through some injuries, and had to put out different lineups and different rotations, so that’s going to be one of their strengths. Kniffin is not afraid to pull the trigger on changing some lineups and getting different guys different looks and it makes them difficult to plan for.
On game plan
“We’re kind of pushing the reset button on our expectations with them just because I don’t know that we will see the same team – different setter, different outside. It’s interesting to see, I think they will be a little bit different than what we saw before. But I think we can take some confidence from the fact that we were in a really tough spot being down in the third and being able to battle and that’s kind of been the theme for us the last half of the season is our ability to come back. Our team understands we can team through some of these tough moments. If we can come together and stay together, we’ll be solid enough to play through some of these difficulties.
BYU middle clocker Russ Lavaja
Players’ familiarity with UCI
“UCI is an awesome team, they’ve got, like Chris said, a bunch of really good players and they know how to play a long, deep match. It’s not going to be a quick one, I don’t think. I think it’s going to long and I think it’s going to be a good one.
BYU opposite Ben Patch
On familiarity with UCI
“Yeah, prior to this we’ve played them twice so we know a little bit about them. They have great athleticism and they’re a talented team so I think it’s going to come down to who executes in those moments and who plays better.”
“It’s sometimes an out of body experience being able to play with people that are your idols and standing by them. It’s just been a really humbling experience.”
Expectations of championship game
“Two best teams in the country in pre-season, I think they nailed it when they said it was going to be us and here we are.”
On leaving volleyball for his mission
“It’s not my last volleyball match, but it is my last as a collegiate athlete for two years. I’ve got the USA Junior team in the summer still. The lessons that you learn out on a mission translate into your game when you come back so you just have to work hard again.”