Dec. 6, 2013
NCAA Tournament First Round: Illinois vs. Morehead State Post-Match Quotes
FINAL SCORE: Illinois 3, Morehead State 0
Illinois Head Coach Kevin Hambly Opening Statement:
"First off, hats off to Morehead State. They came in prepared and they fought really hard. We knew they were good and we knew they were competitive and they showed who they are in a really tough environment. They competed at a really high level and really put a lot of pressure on us. I do think that we were a little bit anxious and we rushed things early. It took us a while to settle in, but once we settled in we played a lot better. We have to play better tomorrow against Marquette, there's no question about that. They looked really good and we'll have to execute at a high level."
Coach Kevin Hambly on getting the win in three sets:
"It's just good to get the win. It doesn't matter if it comes in three, four or five. For us it's just continuing to advance. The fact that Marquette won in three sets means we're similar as far as our legs and everything like that. It's tough when you go five and they go three, then you know you're at a little bit of a disadvantage. We'll take a win against these guys any way we can take it. They're tough."
Coach Kevin Hambly on Marquette:
"We watched them and they're fast. They're competitive and used to winning, so we have our hands full with them tomorrow. " #7 Jocelynn Birkson playing in front of the home crowd: "We definitely wanted to play here. Huff is such a great place to play. We knew that having all of our fans here to support us would give us the advantage. I think the first time jitters of playing in the tournament and being in huff sometimes can get really crazy, I think we'll be more prepared tomorrow."
#3 Jennifer Beltran on Morehead State:
Every team in the tournament is used to winning. We expect every team to come out with the mentality that they're going to win. It's something we talked about prior to the match because it's something that we have to remind ourselves. The tournament is not easy and anything can happen. Any team can win on any given night, and that's why we have to come out prepared."
"Jocelynn did awesome. She's been great for us. She just hits over the block and she's been hitting some really great shots. She's been doing great."
Coach Kevin Hambly on the team's performance:
"I thought we were a little shaky to start. We were anxious. For a lot of these guys, it's their first time playing in the tournament. Only three have them have played in it before, and it looked that way. We looked like a team that was pressing too hard and trying to score fast. About halfway through the second set we started to relax and settle in and play our volleyball. I don't know if we executed the way we wanted to in every facet of the game. Some of that has to do with Morehead State. They did a great job of serving and their offense is very different. I don't think we really got a handle on Alex Fitzmorris. She was tough. I do think that we were anxious to start that match and it showed in our execution."
Coach Kevin Hambly on Morehead State's #4 Alex Fitzmorris:
"We know how good of a player she is. Physically, she can dominate matches. It was just such a different look. We haven't seen that in such a long time. It's higher. On the slide on one foot you're used to going quick and chasing it, like we'll see tomorrow. This one's a lot higher. You almost had time to get out there and wait and then get over it. It's just a different kind of look."
Coach Kevin Hambly on the environment in Huff Hall:
"The environment was very interesting. It was loud and it was hectic. There was a lot of chaos. It was a different vibe than we typically get. I thought it was a really cool environment, and that's what the NCAA tournament should be. It didn't feel like Huff, it felt like an NCAA game."
Coach Kevin Hambly on Marquette:
"Defensively we need to be very good. They can be extremely efficient. Typically for us, if we can defend well we'll be okay. I think we'll be more settled and that will help us, as well. We need to be committed to defend at a high level tomorrow or we'll be in trouble."
Morehead State Head Coach Jaime Gordon on NCAA Tournament experience and thoughts on game:
“This is a match, a competition, and that’s how we approached it. This is a great experience and a chance to play a class program. I think our team represented themselves and the university and especially the conference well. I was proud of the way they competed. It’s an outstanding environment and the fans here were great, but I think our team actually fed off of that. This team is competitive and enjoys that type of environment whether it’s at home or on the road. Also very proud of our own fans especially considering the weather. To have a great showing here in Champaign was fantastic. “
#9 Aryn Bohannon on environment, serve game, and fighting against such a quality team:
“Serving was a little shaky at times. It’s definitely a different environment and gym, so serving was a little weird for us. I was really proud of the way we fought back. Illinois is a very good team and there was never a point where we said oh my gosh, this team is killing us. It was point for point and we fought hard for every single point. We began this game saying we have to out-scrap this team, we have to outplay them and we have to out-grit them. We knew we weren’t going to be able to come out and count on their mistakes and that we had to earn everything.”
#10 Leslie Schellhaas on her grittiness and what Illinois’ offense made them do on defense:
“I think from the get-go the coaches told us that Illinois is more of a pin-driven team so defensively that’s what we needed to key in on, where were their outside and right-side hitters were going. From that standpoint, for us, it was just keeping the ball in play and being aggressive. I think that’s as Aryn said just out-gritting the team, which was our goal tonight. That mindset of every single ball that comes over the net, you do whatever it takes to keep it in play. “
Coach Gordon on defending Birks and McMahon:
“You’ve got two of the best players that play in the best conference. You know that they’re going to be quite a challenge. They showed that tonight. When they needed big points both of those guys dropped some pretty big hammers and scored some critical points. I know that’s going to be a key piece for Marquette or whoever else has to face these guys is how well can they defend those pins. There was times that we did it well and times they just kind of ran their deal.”
Coach Gordon on senior players:
“It’s amazing to think for four and five years respectively what they meant to this team and were able to do. We talked a little bit in the locker room that it’s still just about a process. Along with this team’s desire to really get that grit back in them and it was also to protect and build upon the legacy of the program and the teams that have come before them. I think they’ve done that and they’re ready to hand that baton off to a group of hungry players and good recruits coming in. This type of performance tonight was the type of thing we need to help continue to grow this program up to the next level. When that happens, these two will be a big part of that as well.”