Oct. 7, 2013
MADISON, Wis. – After dropping its first Big Ten Conference match at then-No. 10 Nebraska last Saturday, head volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield talked to the media Monday about his team’s play. Despite the loss, the Badgers moved up to 19th in this week’s AVCA Top 25 Coaches’ poll.
Wisconsin is tied for third in the Big Ten standings with a 3-1 mark. UW is 14-2 overall.
The Badgers continues their six-match stretch against ranked teams as well as a four-match road swing this weekend. UW travels to No. 14 Ohio State (14-2, 2-2) on Friday for a 6 p.m. first serve from St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The road trip wraps up on Saturday at No. 4 Penn State (12-2, 3-1) with a 7:30 p.m. match from Rec Hall in University Park, Pa.
A complete transcript of Sheffield’s comments is below.
Opening Statement: (It) seems like the Iowa match was a year ago. We came out, got stuck in a rotation in game one, and pretty much got blown out in the first game. (We) kind of got our act together a little bit the next three sets. That's a tough place to play at and a team that is really, really scrappy and serves really tough.
Nebraska match … it was just back and forth, just really good volleyball from both sides in a really tough environment. We had a nice lead in game one, somehow let that slip away and lost game one. I don't know, eight or nine-point lead. Those were things you've got to be able to close out, and we weren't able to close that out.
Game two, we got right back at it and they squeaked out a close game two. So we found ourselves down 0-2 going into the locker room. (We) came out and just kept battling. (I’m) really proud of the way that we battled to eke out a game three win, and game four, I think that was 32-30, back and forth game.
In game five -- we just made too many errors in game five. We outserved them by the numbers. We outpassed them by the numbers. We hit about .200 points better than them in serve receive, and when that happens, you've got to be able to win those matches.
Biggest difference was in transition, they outhit us by .300 points in transition and they just blew us away in the transition game. That's an area that we've got to get better at. We will get better at.
Starting today in the practice gym watching some film. I thought we battled really well. I thought our ball control was great. Taylor (Morey) and Annemarie (Hickey) and Deme (Morales), I thought their ball control was great. I thought that was the best match that Lauren (Carlini) has set. I thought she did a really good job of distributing the ball.
We've got to find a way to get the ball to Ellen Chapman a lot more than what we did. That's on the coaching staff. That's on me trying to find ways to get her involved a bit more.
I thought Courtney Thomas had kind of a rough game five, but she was really, really big when we needed her in game three and game four.
This week we've got Ohio State and Penn State, tough road trip that we're excited about starting our preparation for.
Kelly, the way that your team battled Nebraska in front of 8,000 fans down there, you would think that that would bode well for the upcoming road trip and even through the remainder of the season, don't you think?
One thing I didn't think we did a very good job at at all in the spring was, when we kind of got pushed, I thought we just kind of crumpled up. I didn't think we were a team that enjoyed the battle.
I think one thing that we got in this fall, this team has really, really seemed to come back from (being) down. We've certainly had quite a few opportunities to do that.
(The Huskers) got a brand new facility. It's a really nice place that they play in, and the fans there, you hear them really loud when you get on a two-point run. It was about as loud of an away environment as I've probably been in.
I thought our kids handled it really well. They stayed focused and for the most part executed. I think we've got to get a lot better at executing at the end of sets. Certainly, Nebraska had something to do with that as well applying the pressure.
Will it help us going forward? Yeah, you certainly hope so. We've just got to get better.
There's only a couple of undefeated teams right now in the Big Ten. I don't know if you look at this or not. So play along if you don't mind. How many losses do you think the winner of this conference is going to have?
I talked to a couple of coaches last night who thought this is the best the conference has ever been this year. From top to bottom, and I've only been following this just kind of an outsider, but it certainly seems tough to me.
Every match went to five on Saturday night. That's crazy. How many losses? It might be as many as four. I'd be shocked if anybody goes undefeated or is a one-loss team. There's a lot of good teams, and I think there's a lot of environments that are really tough to play in.
That's a great question. I haven't put much thought into it, but I would probably say it's probably going to be four losses might win this thing.
Is Courtney kind of leading the way for you, Kelly, as far as just mental toughness and everything that she does for your club? Are the rest of the players kind of feeding off that?
We've got a few of them. I mean, Court is as tough as they get. She is really tough – so’s Annemarie Hickey, so's Deme Morales, so's Lauren Carlini, so's Taylor Morey. We've got a lot of it. This is probably about as tough of a team as I've had.
I certainly wouldn't want to get on, if I was an outsider, on too many of their bad sides. What we're learning is how to deal with adversity and how to work through those issues together -- being able to move on to the next play quickly. Those are things that we're learning to do.
But you mentioned one of a handful of kids that I think is really, really tough. Yeah, Court is certainly one of them.