Royce Hinton | Posted: 7 Dec 2017 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Women's volleyball fields Sweet Sixteen media questions

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BYU Head Coach Heather Olmstead

Opening statement …
“Thanks for having us. We're excited to be here in Kentucky. We appreciate the hospitality getting here. Our trip's been great so far. We are pretty excited we get to keep practicing this week and to practice today and obviously compete tomorrow against a great Kentucky opponent. But, I'm really proud of our team and the season that we have had so far. I think they have put in a lot of hard work to be here and so it's going to be a great match tomorrow.”

On being in Lexington for the Regional two years ago …
“Yeah, absolutely. Roni (Jones-Perry) and Cosy (Burnett) were here so our juniors and seniors were here and I do think the court is a little familiar and a little familiar feeling and so I think it's great we can come back and play Kentucky. I think it's cool.”

On the success she has had as a head coach …
“The girls sitting next to me. It's all about your team and the players on your team and obviously we have great staffs as well, so I think the girls put in the work and they've done a great job these past three seasons, and that's really what you see in that record is all their hard work, their focus and attention to detail. This year is no different. They've won 30 matches and they've had to focus their way through every single match and I think it's been very rewarding for them.”

On what scares her about Kentucky on the scouting report ...
"Kentucky's a great team. I think offensively they're very good. They've got a lot of options that they can set. Obviously, they're at home so they've got an advantage there and then defensively as well they put up a big block, so we're looking on how to take our advantages there, offensively and defensively, because we want to serve tough. Everyone wants to serve tough and pass well. Hopefully we can have good offensive numbers and defensive numbers as well."

On the effectiveness of BYU's block ...
"I like our block. I think our girls do a good job with the scouting reports and also the staff puts together good scouting reports. It allows us to just be kind of calm at the net. We train eye work, foot work and hand work and I think the girls pay attention to that. We like to put them in good positions and they do a good job just executing and so I think that is just all it is - just paying attention to up at the net, kind of know what the opponent wants to do and knowing sets in certain situations and they really do a good job executing."

On if playing in hostile environments and whether or not that helps them …
Absolutely, we talk after each match about what that match is going to do for us down the road. For sure being able to go on the road and play Hawaii, go five sets and come out with a win there was huge for our confidence building. It happened to us a couple of times in our own conference games where we were down and able to come back and play better towards the end of those matches. I do think it gives us some confidence and something to build off. Even in other matches, we try to take things we have learned from them. Even if it may not have been a difficult match, there is always something you can learn from a match. We try to learn from every match—win or lose.

On the similarities and differences between BYU and Kentucky’s playing styles …
“I think we’re pretty similar. Even statistically, it is very hard to find tons of differences. I think we have big physical athletes, great setters and good passing. It will be interesting to match up and see on the court when we play where those differences are. Statistically, we’re trying to find differences and look for advantages and things like that but it has been difficult. I think Coach Skinner does a great job with his training. Two years ago when we were here they texted us if they could come watch practice because they weren’t in the regional but maybe I shouldn’t have let them. I don’t know. So, it is kind of ironic and kind of cool. I think their staff does a great job training and recruiting to get good athletes. Just watching their fifth set against Western Kentucky showed how resilient of a group they are and not willing to give up. I think that is very similar to our BYU group. We’re not afraid of any task and are going to take it head first and never give up.”

On what’s clicking for them during a nine-game win streak …
“For us as coaches and the team, the later you get in the season the more there’s this urgency that you don’t want this ride to end. Obviously, for the seniors you just want to see how far you can go. One of our goals this whole year was to see how good this 2017 team can be and that’s still yet to be determined. We’re just trying to get better every day and we want to see how good this group can be.”

On the hospitality of Kentucky …
“Well, we’ve been called ‘babe’ and ‘honey’ by our bus driver 10 or 20 times already. That was really welcoming from the minute we stepped off the plane and got on the bus was just her love and welcoming us to Kentucky. The grits this morning, I guess, were good at breakfast.”

 

#18, Mary Lake, So., Defensive Specialist

On the key to their team defense …
“I think the training we do every day in practice. Our team has made bettering our defense one of our main focuses and I think there has been a full-team effort, whether that’s from our hitters to give us tougher things to practice in practice, to our blockers. Another thing we talked about was how incredible our block was and it is very hard to defend behind a block. I’m grateful every time we’re in scout that our blockers are putting in a lot of work in practice because I know that it will make our defensive jobs easier. Just a shout out to the blockers and the hard work we all do in practice.”  

On if they expect their fans to attend tomorrow’s match …
“BYU fans are the best. They always show up and we don’t know where they come from. I have no idea if there will be any here tomorrow, but we have enough confidence to know that whether our fans are here watching or at home. We have their spirit with us. We have amazing fans.” 

On what’s clicking for them in a nine-game win streak …
“I think our culture on and off the court are pretty similar, so we’re not just playing with these strangers who we just play with and don’t see outside of the gym at all. We’re playing with our friends that we invest in and we have trust in. I think that’s a big part of the program’s success, that the coaches have established and we have an awesome team culture.”

On the hospitality of Kentucky …
“You can tell how nice a place is by when you’re in the elevator if people talk to you or not. Because I like to talk to people and usually if you’re in other places – I’m from California so I can say this – when you’re in California, they don’t want to talk to you. But, here people are nice and they’re smiling so it’s been nice.”

 

#2, Cosy Burnett, Sr., Middle Blocker

On her previous experience in the Sweet 16 and what she’s telling the younger players …

“I think that when you are young and it’s your first round, it can be intimidating and it can be easy to be overwhelmed. But, the biggest thing is just to turn to your teammates and focus on them and focus on where you’re at. I think that’s the biggest thing. Just being calm and confident in your skills, knowing how you got there and focusing on the girls beside you. I think that’s the best thing.”

 

#12, Roni Jones-Perry, Jr., Outside Hitter

On what’s clicking for them in a nine-game win streak …
“I would say that the energy in our gym right now is super high and we have a want to get better every single day in the gym at practice and at games. I think having that want from every single point and that energy, like coach was talking about, just staying focused throughout our matches, whether we’re up or we’re down. I think that’s been huge for us.”

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