(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. We'll begin with BYU this afternoon. We're joined by head coach Heather Olmstead, senior middle blocker, Amy Boswell, senior middle blocker, Whitney Young Howard, and freshman libero, Mary Lake. We'll have an opening statement from coach, and then we'll take questions for coach and the student-athletes.
Coach, your thoughts on getting started here in the Austin Regional?
COACH OLMSTEAD: We're excited to be here. Grateful for the University of Texas being such gracious hosts and the city of Austin. And we're looking forward to practice later today and our match tomorrow against Texas.
Q. How excited are you guys to be here?
COACH OLMSTEAD: Yeah, we're looking forward to the challenge. It's a great opportunity to play a good volleyball team. We're excited about the match-up tomorrow. We think we have some strengths, they have some strengths as well, so we're looking forward to playing some good volleyball heading into the match tomorrow.
It's exciting to be here. I know Texas is an historically great program. They've done great things. Jerritt does a great job with his team, so I know they're going to be well-coached, and we're well prepared.
AMY BOSWELL: I know I'm super excited with just the opportunity to be here. We have had a fantastic season so far, and are excited to see what we can do. And our coaches have done a really good job at preparing us, and we'll prepare as a team as well. Obviously, Texas is a fantastic team, and we're excited for the opportunity to get better.
WHITNEY YOUNG HOWARD: Yeah, I'm excited for the chance to work hard together with my teammates. So it's always fun.
MARY LAKE: I love that we treat every team like any other team, and so just focusing on ourselves and that's something that our team does, and I'm just excited to play Texas.
Q. What do you think about Texas?
COACH OLMSTEAD: Yeah, I think Texas does quite a few things well. They're a big, physical team. I think their offense is run really well by their setter, and so that can Pose some problems, but defensively, I think we can also pose a problem for their offense. Just getting our offense going against their defense is another challenge we're going to look at, but I think we match-up well with them. We're big and physical also, so I think we play similar styles of volleyball.
Q. What do you remember of the BYU upset over Texas?
COACH OLMSTEAD: Yeah, we've got some seniors, Amy and Whitney that were both on that team. Just remember the excitement of playing Texas in the Final Four, of playing an historically good program. Jerritt does a very good job with his team, so we're excited for that opportunity. We've got new kids, obviously, and so does Texas, so it will be a completely different match. But we're looking forward to playing a high level of volleyball.
Q. And can you comment, Amy?
AMY BOSWELL: Honestly, I was really excited hearing that we were coming to Austin and playing Texas. There are a lot of really fun memories from that match, obviously. But just like Heather said, I was telling somebody else also, this is a completely different match, completely different team, but nonetheless, very exciting. So I'm excited to match up and maybe have some of those memories come back and hopefully play well.
MARY LAKE: I remember, I think I was a junior in high school when I watched that game. I was sitting around the couch with my family, so it's kind of crazy to think that I was there watching them play Texas, and I'm here excited to play them.
Q. What was a defining moment of this season?
COACH OLMSTEAD: I think for me as a coach, one of those moments was playing at Ohio State. We were down 0-2 and we really fought to stay in that match. We played together, stayed together, they played for each other, and we won that in five. Followed that up the next weekend when we went to Idaho State and played really well in a tournament in Pocatello, beat Missouri, beat Boise State and beat Idaho State. For me that was kind of the moment where I thought okay this team could do something pretty special, and they kept working hard from there, and as you can tell, they've had a fantastic season. So I couldn't be more proud of them.
Q. What would you say is the identity of your team?
WHITNEY YOUNG HOWARD: I just think our identity's like everybody works hard as a whole team. So we never have -- we have our starters, and then we have our people that are constantly ready, they're always ready to go in, and when they do go in, they play well. So I'd say our identity of the team is the fact that it's our whole team that is going out.
AMY BOSWELL: I'd add we're a team that doesn't give up or never goes away. As Heather said to that Ohio State match, there are a couple of times that we've done that. We've just been down and kind of had that break at halftime. It's like, guys, we are not finished. This is not how we want to end this game.
So just knowing that the strength of our team is our team, and that anybody can come in and we are very comfortable with each other, but just the fact that we work hard. And if you think you've got us, check again.
WHITNEY YOUNG HOWARD: It's definitely hard. Like as a middle, if your game's not working well or if the other team is serving really hard and we're not doing as well passing, it's hard to kind of take that role because, like for me, I just take it upon myself to be a better blocker. Like what can I do to get my team a touch so that we can get a good dig?
AMY BOSWELL: Yeah, I think what's fantastic about this team also is it's not just our four seniors that are the leaders. We have fantastic freshmen who come in, and we've got a really good leaders in our coaches and on the players on this team. So maybe the seniors will take a moment and say something at a crucial time and calm us down, but the leadership comes from all 18, 19 of us.
Q. Can you kind of go down what you worked on in preseason to get where they are?
COACH OLMSTEAD: Yeah, sure. Amy has been obviously here for five years, a fifth-year senior, so for her, it's constantly working on her blocking, just getting over the net where she is and fine tuning her offense. She's always been a good offensive player. She has a good arm, but just seeing the block and continuing to see the block throughout her career, and I think she's done a fantastic job of that this year, just seeing the block, hitting around and being able to get kills better. But always blocking and offense with Amy.
Same thing with Whit. Whit's has little more of a knack for blocking as far as getting over, and she's quick left to right. So for her, offensively, figuring out ways for her to get more kills and she's done that this year. She's doing a great job for us being more involved in the offense, and people have to respect Whitney when she's on the front row.
Then Mary, as far as being a libero, passing and defensively she's been able to catch up to the level of play pretty quickly from the first match we played she's been our starting libero as a freshman. So she's really, I think, embraced that role, and she's a vocal leader and a leader on the court as well. She's going to go for every ball, and that inspires our team to be scrappy.