Oct. 1, 2012
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin volleyball team (13-4, 1-3) plays host to a pair of Big Ten foes for the second-consecutive weekend as No. 24 Michigan State (14-2, 2-2) and Michigan (14-4, 2-2) visit the UW Field House this weekend. The Badgers take on the Spartans at 7 p.m. Friday before matching up against Michigan at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Head coach Pete Waite talked to the media on Monday after a pair of home loses this past weekend to No. 1 Penn State and No. 22 Ohio State.
A complete transcript of his remarks is below.
Opening Statement: We hosted Penn State on Friday night and found out why they're No. 1 in the country. They're very, very good. Bret (Bielema) had a quote, ‘Don't let a team beat you twice.’ I think unfortunately we had it happen.
On Saturday night against Ohio State, we had such a slow start— I think it was left over from the night before. Penn State is such a strong team, they kind of rocked you and kept you on your heels. We found out when they went to Minnesota the next night – Minnesota was ranked top 10 for sure – they beat them in three and beat them 25-8 one of the games. It's a very, very strong team.
Unfortunately, we started slow against Ohio State, lost the first two, but then won the third, and had it going and couldn't quite finish it off. This is one of our cases in our sport, when you play back-to-back nights against people – depending on the travel partners and who they are – you've got a couple of tough teams coming at you.
This week we have Michigan State coming to town, and then we have a day off for the football game, and Sunday is our game against Michigan. Both very strong teams. Michigan State has a transfer from Northern Illinois—Wazinski—one of the top attackers in the country. That was a nice gift for them. They graduated four kids, so she's really doing well for them. And Michigan is in the top 25, so that's a very strong team as well. That should be a pair of good matches.
Have you seen that before where a team comes in and beats you pretty handily, and then the next night it happens again? Do you see that a lot?
I wouldn't say a lot, but it does happen. That's why some teams, they really like -- with us and Minnesota, usually, that's a very good travel partner because it's a good team that they'll play them the night before. If you have a team like maybe an Iowa, Nebraska combination, it's a little different, high and low in the conference.
It has not happened to us that often, where you really get hit that hard. Penn State is just that strong right now. They're just really playing some great ball. It tends to shake your confidence a little bit. They're hitting over the top. They're hitting shots you're not used to—you can't defend. And the kids think they're doing all the right things. Realistically as a coach, I understand that, but it's hard for them to understand that sometimes.
How do you get their confidence back?
Get back in practice this week, have some meetings. You talk to them about leaving it behind you and just moving forward and improving your own game. That's one thing. Some of the teams will obviously bring out your weak areas, and you need to improve a little bit more, tweak some things, but give them a positive feeling and make sure they're healthy and happy and come to play.
This is also the grind where we're about halfway through the season, where we may shorten practice this time, go a little lighter, and make sure they're feeling healthy because they're pretty banged up. You have someone like Crystal who's got the lingering injury.
We go back to back nights where a week ago we play Friday through Sunday, and she had good nights on both those matches because she had rest in between.
How much does it help to be home all week, and you don't have to travel either end of it?
I don't see, honestly, a big difference in it. A lot of times when we leave, they're sometimes more well rested and less distractions when we leave on a Thursday night. But it's always nice to be home.
The crowd was great Friday night. Obviously, student T-shirt giveaway night was awesome. We a great crowd here—the band was here because they didn’t travel. So it was all a good environment. It was all good in that respect.
I don't want to get ahead of things and all, but this is an important time of the year obviously for you. These two matches here are almost critical, aren't they, because they're at home?
I'd say so, yes. Again, I'll say last year we won at Ohio State. They beat us here. And it just happened just now. So hopefully, we'll get back to their place and get them on the rebound.
It is important because you've got to start getting at least splits on the weekend in the Big Ten play if you're going to make the tournament. That's the challenge. I think these are two teams that we're very similar to. We've got a good shot at. We've got to feel good about the game and ourselves to get the wins here.
I know that Penn State was big and Ohio State was flying and hitting some pretty good shots too. Are you happy with your block along the net, your play along the net right now?
It's something we were working on all week, and we still, I think, our players were not identifying where the hitters' tendencies were. They were going in our seam a lot between the outside and middle blockers, and that's something we work on all the time. We've got to be more disciplined with that because we could have had more blocks on the night. That just shakes the confidence of the opponent when we do that.
I will say, if I'm remembering right, we outblocked Ohio State 15.5-8 or something like that. So that really was good. But there were more opportunities, I felt, because that's always something we've done well in past years. But we could have done a better job.
Mary Ording, it's her final year here. How has she developed as a player and even as a person?
She's always been an outgoing leader type of personality. Kind of a kid that got thrown in the middle blocking position, which was new to her. The pre-conference play was a little new, but she got better and stronger. I think our first weekend of conference play, she did pretty well against Illinois and Northwestern.
Now, this last weekend, they kind of took her out of the mix. I think, just because of the size and the power and the speed of the outside set, she was not as much of a factor. She's going to come back swinging, and she's going to do the best she can and lead the team.
She just said it herself. She doesn't just want to be a Band-Aid thrown in there. She's someone who wants to be a positive factor for the team. So she's going to bust her butt.