Wisconsin volleyball coach Pete Waite addressed the media Monday as his Badgers (5-4, 0-0) open the 2009 Big Ten Conference season at home on Wednesday. Wisconsin hosts Iowa (8-4, 0-0) at 7 p.m. in the UW Field House. The match airs live on the Big Ten Network with Jay Wilson and Elizabeth Moreau.
Wednesday is the 19th-annual Steve Lowe Night. Each season, UWs Big Ten home opener honors the former head coach, who led Wisconsin to its first Big Ten title and NCAA tournament appearance in 1990. Lowe was 108-64 in five years as the Badgers head coach. He passed away on Aug. 22, 1991, from lung cancer.
The Badgers also honor Lowe with the Steve Lowe Endowed Scholarship. This years recipient is senior Brittney Dolgner. Lowes sons Ian and Jeffrey will present Dolgner with a certificate prior to Wednesdays match.
A complete transcript of Waites comments is available below. You can also watch the news conference here .
Opening Statement: Were coming off a three-game sweep up at Green Bay last Wednesday and I was pleased with the way our team sustained their play and held off Green Bays surges at different times and had some standout performances. Caity DuPont had a great attacking night with 11 kills, no errors, which is, I think, it was a .733 hitting percentage, something like that. It was very, very good and thats hard to come by for an entire match.
And then another player, Ashley Wiedmeyer, who is actually a player we got at a tryout last year in the spring from here on campus, she came in and served her first ace and had a couple other great serves actually, where it made a difference and kept the Green Bay offense out of system. That actually helped us quite a bit.
Going into Wednesdays match here, our home opener against Iowa, its Steve Lowe night and Steve is really a person who put Wisconsin volleyball on the map and I think of him often for what he did and then he passed away in 1991. His sons will be here for that occasion. Its a Big Ten Network match and also adidas student free t-shirt night. Were always excited when a lot of students come out for the 250 free t-shirts they get for coming in the door first (that) makes a big difference. They tend to show up in huge numbers then, so thats exciting for us and its a great way to kick off the Big Ten season for us.
Pete, Coach Bielema just said that in football, Big Ten season means you increase your intensity 10 levels. Same for volleyball
Yeah, it does. Obviously the first month of the season youre seeing teams you dont know so well and you have to learn about them really quickly. These teams in the Big Ten you know them pretty well. You saw most of them last year. Though theyve lost some players, but they return a lot of the players and it just cranks it up because of the importance of the Big Ten race. So right out of the box we want to get this win right here at home.
You always draw well, but the students in particular are really what make that crowd special at the Field House. Is there anything else like in the Big Ten
No, not as far as student crowds. Theres some that have some student sections. There might be 20 or 30 students. When we fill it from floor to the back wall, thats pretty intimidating and they can be pretty distracting for the opponent over there. Im not sure totally what they say all the time, but in general they do a great job. And its just fun and fun to watch and I think a lot of our local crowd comes to watch the student section and what dances theyre doing and the chants theyre saying. Sometimes I hear about some of the things later on and theyre pretty funny.
You have two seniors on your squad, Caity and Brittney. How important are they to helping you get this young team to where you want them to be
Yeah, theyre huge. And really, theyve been stepping up the last couple of matches and theyve been probably our two most consistent players and thats really, thats what veterans are supposed to do. Theyre both feeling pretty good right now physically. Again, were watching them day-to-day, but theyre doing a good job and maintaining their physical side of their game. the more they feel good with their bodies, the more theyre going to play well on the court and thats whats the important part.
Theyre leading by example, not just by the physical play, but what theyre saying verbally to the players within practices. And part of that is getting them up for the Big Ten matches, but also having them calm enough to not get too worked up about it and to play well.
As you get ready now to start Big Ten play, what have you learned about your team through the nonconference play, both from a positive standpoint and what they need to improve on now as you get ready to make that jump in level
I think Ive seen some really good things. Its kind of like Paula was saying. Youll see some things and real glimpses of some great play. Its a matter of now sustaining that. Weve seen some matches where they could play with anybody in the Big Ten. We won out at Oregon State (and) Oregon State just beat Michigan at Michigan in three. We won out at Oregon State and Michigan is ranked sixth in the country right now.
That tells us kind of where we stand as far as where the other teams are in the Big Ten and who theyre playing. That shows us we can do that, but we have to be able to sustain that level from match to match and even within each match from set to set. And if we can do that, I think we can do some damage in the Big Ten. But its a matter of having these young players step up and be consistent with their play on a daily basis.
Fair to say Penn State is the one to catch this year
Yeah, being back-to-back national champions, they still are. They lost two very strong starters, but they brought in some great players also. At this point, theyre the ones to beat and everybody is chasing them. But at the same time, everybody has taken a step up in their game I think from last year, its going to be a much more physical conference this year.