POSTGAME - BYU at No. 1 Penn State

BYU head coach Jason Watson addresses the media following BYU's loss at No. 1 Penn State in the NCAA Tournament Regional Championship. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

2007 NCAA Volleyball Championship

Post-Regional Final -- Penn State vs. BYU

Penn State Press Conference

Saturday, December 8, 2007

BYU Head Coach Jason Watson

Opening Statement

First and foremost, I would very much like to thank those that have worked to put on this regional. These are not easy events to put on. Our team has been welcomed here. Our team has been treated incredibly well. The credit goes to Penn State and the people that organized this regional. It's tough to lose. This has been an incredible run for our program and for me personally in the third year of my career. I'm incredibly proud of everyone in our program, the assistants, the athletic training staff, sports information and most of all the athletes for the wonderful run that they made. Unfortunately it has to end. It seems that it always ends here at Penn State for us for some reason. But, I'm proud of what we have been able to accomplish.

In the first game your team kind of went back and forth with Penn State, what did they do to get away from that?

What did they do or what did we do? I thought that there were so many emotions involved in this level of play. I think we did a very good job staying emotionally composed in game one. I thought we played rather well actually in game one. So did they. And then I thought they made a run on us real early in game two, and we just didn't really know how to respond to that. We hadn't been in that situation before. There aren't many situations we haven't been in before, but that was one of them. I thought coming out here we would win a game, but they are an incredibly efficient program, and an incredibly efficient team, Penn State. They continue to prove that night in and night out.

During the first two games they were picking the left side of your block heavily. What did they see and what did you do to try to correct that?

We are a read swing-block team, and against another read swing-block team that is an area that isn't our strength. So they went off of that. We wanted to move our block a little bit and we did that, and then they hit a different shot. Their range out there is quite impressive on that side. I thought Chelsea did a nice job trying to adjust, and I think Bryn did a nice job trying to adjust. Just because you adjust doesn't necessarily mean you are going to be successful. So that is what we tried to do. We knew that was coming. We talked about it today. But they demonstrated that they have a great deal more range out there then we had seen coming into the match.

Did Penn State running the slide with Christa and Ari take you guys by surprise?

No, not by surprise. We know they are good. I think what surprised us was the degree of range they had out there. They were able to do so much with that ball and so quickly too. That sort of took us a while to get dialed in, and we were playing catch up a little bit all night long.

Coach you mentioned that it always seems to end at Penn State. Describe the atmosphere and did that have an effect on how you played?

Well certainly there was a lot more cheering for Penn State than there was for us, so that has some effect. But I think it is a wonderful college environment. I think having been in these situations before is very comforting, but we had not. We have not been in this situation. I have not been in this situation so I don't feel like I adequately prepared my team for what it is they were about to face. So we will be better. It is a great environment. It is an environment we need to learn to be comfortable in in order to get where Penn State now is. We will learn from it. It was pro-Penn State as it should be. And that is the beauty of having a rich volleyball tradition that Penn State has, to be able to host a regional. It is a complement to them, the school, to Coach Rose who is by far one of the best volleyball coaches in the country.

How would you compare Penn State to Washington knowing that Washington knocked them out last year?

You know we played some nice teams this year. We played Wisconsin at our place, we played Stanford, Wisconsin, and then we played Washington. Quite easily Penn State is the best team we played this year. They are the best team that we have seen. I'm sure these teams have gotten better as the season has gone on. We did. I feel that Penn State is very much worthy of their ranking. We would like them to go on and win the national championship of course. They are that caliber of a team. It is going to be fun to follow them next week at Sacramento. They are a wonderful volleyball program, a great team this year and we wish them all the best.

#1 Chelsea Goodman, Sr., OH

Was there one particular point during that second game that you felt things slipping away and what do you think was the driving force that Penn State had that helped them win?

I think to answer your first question, that is the last thing we think about. I think the identity that our team has is that we never give up. We only become more assertive and more focused. Tonight they just kept giving it to us and kept giving it to us, and I shouted when we came into the huddle between plays, 'we'll get the next one.' We weren't yelling at each other. We just didn't come through with a break.

How did you deal with Penn State's speed on offense?

They had very good offensive speed. I think at the beginning of the game it seemed a lot faster than it really was. They pass fast, I think that was one of their key strengths. They pass fast but they kind of slow down with their offense a little bit. So it took a little time to adjust to that.

Penn State didn't have a single block in the first game, but in the second game they had 10. Did that get to you?

Getting blocked isn't that nice, especially when the crowd kind of gets at you a little bit. I knew, all of us knew, that they are pretty athletic and that they can jump well, and they are pretty tall and they have pretty nice size arms. I think Amy did a real nice job keeping the sets off the net knowing they would get pressed over.

#15 Amy Schlauder, Jr., S

Was there one particular point during that second game that you felt things slipping away and what do you think was the driving force that Penn State had that helped them win?

I think our senior leadership helped our composure during the game. It was a pretty tough game, but our focus when we were behind so much was just to get momentum. One play at a time, just get momentum. Because we knew that the game wasn't over and that we could come back. We weren't able to come back that game, but I really appreciate the composure our team had during that game.

How did you deal with Penn State's speed on offense?

They are a fast team. We were prepared for that. We watched them a little bit last night. We watched them on film. But we felt like they had a pretty fast offensive flow. We tried to play as we play in our gym. We tried to make adjustments as we went along. Like we talked about on the left side. Having the left side block dedicate. Just trying to touch what we could and do what we could.

Penn State Head Coach Russ Rose

Opening Statement

I thought tonight we played great in every aspect of the game, other than a few blocking errors that took place because we were maybe a little over stimulated. I thought we did a terrific job with passing. I thought Roberta [Holehouse] and Megan [Hodge] did a great job passing. Alisha [Glass] distributed the ball very well. Certainly Ari [Wilson] went off in a very big offensive way. But, we had no blocks in the first game and 10 in the second game so, I thought the players stuck to the game plan very well and played hard. It was a great evening for Penn State volleyball. The fans were terrific and we're very appreciative of all the support we receive from the university that allows us to host this event and of all the fans that bring the energy to the facility for the players to play.

What has brought you to here after your losses against Nebraska and Stanford?

Those teams were and are number one seeds in the tournament. So, when you're playing the best teams, you have an opportunity to learn what you need to do to get better. I think we've had some struggles. Those matches weren't maybe as big of struggles as we've had getting the players to understand the importance of each of them being accountable and responsible for certain things. So I think I'll continue to try and schedule the best teams in the country and recruit the best players and hope that we can put a product together that not only the players can be excited to be a part of but that the Penn State community can be proud to be associated with. I think we learned a lot and we recognized that Brigham Young is a terrific opponent and I knew we'd have to play very well and I thought we played beyond playing very well this evening.

Can you compare this team to the 1999 national championship team?

I could but I would never do that. It's a totally different situation. I wouldn't compare this group of players to last year's players because they're totally different. So when people say, you know, you haven't been here for three years; three years ago Arielle Wilson was a sophomore in high school. So, it's a whole different collection of people and it's their opportunity to compete and continue to grow and have the opportunities to go to a national semifinal is terrific for them. I hope they embrace it and have fun with it and compete hard, and we'll see what happens.

Are there any similarities in characteristics between this team and the 1999 team?

You ought to ask me when it's over. If they win it, the similar characteristic is that they have a ring that says they were the national champions. Right now, they did some of the things that team did. They've won four consecutive Big Ten Championships.

How important is it for Alisha as a setter to get the ball rolling and keep things moving?

It's interesting to have a night where your two middles both hit .733 and one of them has nine blocks, and everybody's talking to the other one. So that just kind of reinforces what Alisha said. All of the teams that advance in the tournament are good teams. You have to be lucky, you have to be healthy, and you have to just all be on the same page because it happens very quickly. So tonight was certainly a night that they'll remember and I'm sure the fans will remember as well because it was a great night for Penn State volleyball.

#3 Christa Harmotto, Jr., MH

How does it feel to conquer the regional game after struggling with it?

I just can't stop smiling. Once we hit 20, we were counting down how many points and it's just exciting. It's my third year and I just can't wait to go.

What made the difference in turning the blocking around? You had zero the first game and ten the second.

I don't think we were reading the setter very well in the first game. We also weren't getting over the net and sealing the net. I think our right side blockers did a great job as far as talking to us and timing, because that's so key with blocking the smaller hitters. So I thought we did a great job in the second game.

You've been dominant all season. What makes you such a good title contender?

I think we were a little bit flat towards the end of the Big Ten season as far as our energy level. I think we've just been focused in practice and everybody is just so on the same page. It's important to have everyone on the same page when you're going for a national championship. We want to go there and win; we don't want to just go. I think the way we're playing right now is certainly going to help us do that.

#6 Alisha Glass, So., S

What did you see coming into tonight's match? It seemed like you were feeding Arielle [Wilson] right off the bat.

Yeah, they're a different style team than the teams we normally face. They're actually similar to Washington in that they swing block and they set pins. So one of the focuses was to really spread out the offense and get them at the pins, so she was doing a really nice job of that, and once you find a weakness like that you have to exploit it. It was to our advantage on those matches and we just kept going with it.

How important is it for you as a setter to get the ball rolling and keep things moving?

I think that every matchup is different and every team that we play is different. The advantage that we have is that it doesn't matter what the matchup is, it seems that we have so many weapons that we'll find one anywhere. If it's Ari's night, it's Ari's night, and it was tonight. And sometimes it's Megan [Hodge] and the speed of our outside set. And sometimes it's Christa with the fast way that she can go in any zone of the net. It's so nice to know that they all have those variety of shots that they have and all of the weapons that they can use as a collective offense. So whenever we find someone that maybe is left side dominant blocking, we find another way to go at them. We just have a variety of different things we can do.

#7 Arielle Wilson, Fr., MH

When you were announced as Most Outstanding Player on the all-tournament regional team, what were you thinking?

It was sweet. Just to receive it over everyone on the team, that's phenomenal. So, I'm honored to accept it.

You had a great attack percentage. What was going so well for you tonight?

The slide attack honestly. I don't know. I could just hit over everybody, so I did. Why not keep at it? That was the game plan.