Women's Volleyball Press Conference

Postmatch notes & quotes vs. Penn State

(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Coach Shawn Olmstead, Jennifer Hamson, Alexa Gray, and Amy Boswell.

Coach, your thoughts on this evening's match.

COACH OLMSTEAD:  Yeah, just congratulations to Penn State on an outstanding season, and an outstanding match.  They played really well.  They had a great game plan, and just congrats to them, and I think it's important to say congrats to BYU and to these kids here beside me.

I thought they gave Penn State a good run.  In the third set, it got a little further away than we wanted.  But these kids poured their heart out in that match and they didn't back down and they weren't kind of running away.

And just it's Penn State has done an unbelievable job.  Russ will go down as maybe the greatest volleyball coach, I don't know.

But just congrats to our kids and I just want to thank everybody, all the BYU fans.  So many people have reached out to me, reach out to our girls.

So many people traveled.  Some drove all night to be here.  And we can't thank them enough for supporting us and cheering on these kids.

Q.  Jennifer, did they take you out of your game?  Did you have a bad night?  Was it a combination of the two?

JENNIFER HAMSON:  Yeah, I think it was a combination of the two.  I think Penn State was playing really well, and I think I just couldn't quite execute very good.

Q.  Amy, there was throughout much of the match an opportunity for Alohi to set the middles and set you folks in particular.  The passing was good.  Why were you able to connect on so many quicks and both middles able to do so many quicks?

AMY BOSWELL:  That was one of the things we scouted.  We noticed that the middle, we kind of watched what worked for the other team when we scout and the middle was working and so we tried to keep with what we knew would work and so a credit to our back row, with Ciara, Tia, Tambre, all of our passers, the middle doesn't get set unless the passing is good.

Alohi has done a great job throughout this tournament and throughout the season.  So good job to her also.

Q.  Alexa, was there something specifically that Penn State did better than you thought they'd be able to do against you that maybe you guys didn't adjust to?

ALEXA GRAY:  Nothing that I had seen, but I just know they're a good team and we knew they wanted to hit high.  So that's really hard to defend, usually.  They are a good team.  They pass well and they attack pretty hard and high, too.

Q.  Alexa, when the match is going on, and it's another in this big long  you won 12 in a row, did you ever feel a sense of what the score was?  Were you ever pulled down by when you saw it building up?  Did you ever really pay attention to the scoreboard?

ALEXA GRAY:  I try not to look up at the scoreboard, I try to just play no matter what the score is, if it's 00 or it's 100, I just try to hit hard all the time and help my team out, just do what I need to do to help us win.

Q.  Jennifer, can you take a moment to look back on your career at BYU with basketball and volleyball and the things that you've been able to share with your teammates and to talk about that a little bit?

JENNIFER HAMSON:  It's been amazing.  I've had so much fun playing with so many teammates and coaches and it's been so much fun and I relish every moment of it now that it's over.

Q.  Alexa, now with Jen graduating and you'll be one of the seniors on next year's team, how does this experience provide motivation for the next nine months heading into next year?

ALEXA GRAY:  I think from this we can go out and be a great team and we can compete at a really high level with the rest of the teams in the conference.

So I think it just raises the bar for the players coming in and the ones that are staying with us to practice harder and maybe we can get back here next year.

Q.  Amy, 63 of the 64 teams end up like this and most teams don't make it.  And if I may, you look very composed.  You look like, what, are you grateful for having gone this far?  Usually it's just way more tears from everybody?

AMY BOSWELL:  Obviously we've been so grateful to come this far.  I know our fans have been unbelievable.  The fact that we honestly no one expected us to make it this far except our team and our fans and those who supported us.  So the fact that we made it here.

We were even talking about it in the locker room, this is an unbelievable legacy we created this year, and as we've said so far, it gives us something to build on.

And so I may be composed right now.  It stings, for sure, but I try to think what an amazing year it has been, and I would not want to fight with anybody else but these girls, and it's been awesome.

Q.  Amy, statistically, this was one of the weaker blocking performances the team has had this season.  What about Penn State's offense made it so difficult for the BYU blockers tonight?

AMY BOSWELL:  As Alexa was saying, they swing high, they're tall, physical girls, and they swing, they jump really high and they swing high.  So that makes it hard.  No matter how you put 6'4", 6'7",6'2" up there, if they're swinging high off your hands, I think it makes it difficult.

I thought our blocks were in good spots, personally, but they were going off high hands, which is a great strategy.

Q.  Looked like Penn State was using the slide attack a lot maybe to avoid Jen Hamson and her big huge block.  Did they use the slide and the right side attack more than some of the matches you scouted out?

COACH OLMSTEAD:  For sure.  They've got two big outside hitters and for the most part they were going the other way which is a great plan tactically, obviously.  And defensively that's the weaker side.

So I'm not surprised.  I mean, we did what we could to adjust.  We talked about it over and over and tried to move our defenders a little.

And so they did an outstanding job there.  And that was obviously a huge part of the game plan or after a few points right at the start they just kept going with it.

But we figured they'd be going to that side, and we felt comfortable before the match defending.  And they did a great job over there.

Q.  Hancock seemed to be mixing it up, different tempo and different spots.  How much did she impact what your girls were seeing?

COACH OLMSTEAD:  She's the Player of the Year and deserves all that recognition, absolutely.  She is the best, the Player of the Year.  She gets my vote.  She did an outstanding job.

She did move the ball around better than we did.  I felt we were in good spots.  I just thought their hitters just really, really took quality swings.  They hit high with range.  So she moved it around, but I can't think of too many that we were surprised with.

In the last time against Texas and maybe once or twice against Nebraska, they had a couple times where there was a swing with no block up.  I didn't see that happen tonight.

So even when they attacked out of the back row, we just had kind of a schematic error because we were all supposed to block that and each time that they got a kill out of the back row was right where the person that was supposed to block didn't block.

But she's an unbelievable player, great player.

Q.  Moving from Hancock, Player of the Year, you had a freshman, Alohi, your setter, would you evaluate her performance under this kind of condition?

COACH OLMSTEAD:  Yeah, I thought  I mean, first and foremost, we have another setter that Camry has done just a great job this year and she carried our team through the obvious majority of the season.

And so a ton of credit to her.  And I actually thought Alohi played well.  You’ve gotta be able to evaluate it a little further, and we will once the sting wears off.  I'm ready to look at it.

I'm okay.  I'm not trying to be a tough guy and say I can look at it and I could look at it tonight and try to figure out what went well and what didn't go well.  But I saw her make a couple of plays, one hand, get up there and go and set the quick, and we got two kills off that play.  Don't see many freshmen doing that, setting the quick off one hand.

And she's a pretty composed kid.  For her to make her first start in NCAA volleyball in I think the Elite Eight  I don't remember, against Nebraska, she's done an outstanding job.  I thought she did a great job tonight.  I thought she set the right people.

I thought she set them quick.  I wish we would have got more kills there.  She set Jen in rhythm in the back row.  We had opportunities.  So overall, very pleased with her performance and as a freshman on that stage, that's pretty exciting.

Q.  Obviously you saw what Megan Courtney did in the last match so you weren't oblivious to what she could do.  Your thoughts about her leading into the match and what she did tonight?

COACH OLMSTEAD:  We kept overall, they out-blocked us, all that stuff, but I thought we had opportunities.  And I thought we were close.  And maybe others don't think that but I'm going to think that.

And I thought we pushed them.  We gave them all they could  we gave them a good fight.  Like I said, the third set got out of hand.

But regarding Megan Courtney, outstanding outside hitter.  They've got great pin hitters.  We felt the match was going to come down to that.  We felt comfortable with our pin hitters.  Theirs were a little better than ours tonight, just overall.  And she did a great job.  But I felt we kept her semi in check, but those are  those are good numbers is what I would expect from her.  But I thought we did a good job on some of the other kids.

Q.  Did Jennifer Hamson run out of gas?

COACH OLMSTEAD:  No, absolutely not.  No way.  No way.  I mean, that's where people are so wrong.  They're, oh, she's going to run out of gas.  I don't know.  Jack was there.  I think she took 60-something swings against Florida State.  She didn't run out of gas.  Her numbers were down a little, but Alexa was feeling it, and she was going, no, that kid didn't run out of gas.  She made bad plays there at the end that she wishes she could have back.

But it was a culmination.  Some of those were so out of system, anybody would have hit those out of bounds.  I think she wishes she would have kept some of those in.  But run out of gas?  No, that kid would lace them up right now if you asked her to.

Q.  You led most of the second set even by five points at one point.  Losing that, how did that change the rest of the match?  What was your message in the locker room, in the intermission, and did they come out still thinking about the second set and that missed opportunity?

COACH OLMSTEAD:  I don't think so.  There was a good vibe in the locker room in between sets.  Especially feeling like, hey, we were right there.  I think we served for one set point, maybe.

I think we misserved there.  And so I didn't feel like it.  But they definitely came out and scored a couple.  I think they went up maybe 31, I'd have to look.  But, no, I don't feel like that was the case.  But then it started to slip away and frustration.  It's hard.  The kids battled it off.  They really did.

Q.  What was your final message to the team after losing and you're in there, just you and the girls?

COACH OLMSTEAD:  That's where you're going to get me to just be sappy.  And a lot of people just rallied around these kids, and just told these kids they know I love them.  They know I care deeply for them.  And they came into this tournament coming into these powerhouses  Texas, Penn State, Stanford.

And a lot of people have asked me, how are your kids?  They just look like it's no big deal.  I just told them:  Follow my lead.  I'll be quirky.  I'll grow a stupid mustache.

I'm not going to change the clothes I wear, and I didn't.  I'm not going to change the things I do, and I didn't.  And I get out there and pepper with the kids, we'll get out there and play games with the kids.  That's what we did.  You can't deny that those kids were  they were ready to go.  And so I just told the kids, just continue to follow my lead.

I've lost a national championship match.  And you know what, it hurts.  I said just follow my lead.  You can cry.  It's going to be a bummer for a little bit, but I just said in the end you'll be better because of it.  And I told them also that this, to me, I don't believe in losses and you failed, you're a failure.  A lot of people are going to say that.  I don't care what people say.  I never have and never will.  I have a friggin' disgusting mustache right now.

But the deal is these kids didn't fail.  They didn't lose.  They competed and they're going to grow from this experience and they're going to be better because of it.

I told them in life, unfortunately, the moments that are hard are what build you and you become better from these moments that people perceive to be devastation and just you feel your life's ended and you put out a goal to go accomplish something great and you didn't get it, those are the moments you look back and reevaluate.

You rarely reevaluate when you win and things go perfect.  You just keep going.  So I just told the kids, just follow my lead.  We're all going to grow from this and we're all going to build from it and it's good.  It's positive.

Q.  Are you going to shave your mustache?

COACH OLMSTEAD:  I don't know.  My wife's back there.  Ask her.  Whatever she wants me to do.  Do you want me to shave it?  Yes, I'll shave it.

Penn State Notes741 KB