bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the tournament at Colorado State where your team went 1-2?
Mike Jordan: I felt like we made some progress between weekends defensively. Sweeping FIU was good it was our first sweep of the season. We didn't pass the ball very well but we were able to fight through that. We actually passed exceptionally well against Pepperdine and fairly well against Colorado State. Pepperdine and Colorado State are great teams and if you look at the stats we actually outperformed Pepperdine in a lot of areas, in most areas but they were able to make more plays in crunch time than we did. We were serving at 23 all in the third set tied 1-1 and we missed a serve and that was a big momentum killer for us. If we win that third set obviously things could had been a lot different. Give Pepperdine credit they are a great team. In stretches I thought we played some of our best volleyball there.
The Colorado State match was tough from the standpoint of how good a blocking team they were. They served it tough, they blocked big and they were able to take us out of our rhythm offensively and they played well on their home court and they swept Pepperdine two nights before so their confidence was high. Both teams are clearly Top 20 caliber teams and I think we learned a little bit more about ourselves.
Defensively we're playing a little bit better but we've got to block better so we're making some changes there. We're going to spend more time on it. Offensively we're hoping to be a little bit more versatile and I think that'll come with time and better ball control. I would expect us to make strides there soon.
bc.net: Both of the first sets against Pepperdine and Colorado State, you won and you won pretty handily. What were you able to do in those two sets?
MJ: We served really well and we got them out of system a lot more. Both teams settled in a little bit blocking well as the match went on but we were serving well, defending great and we were able to get some really good swings in transition and that's our game. And we were able to go on some point runs and that's a big deal in our game for sure.
bc.net: Now that the non-conference portion of the schedule is over are you pleased with the results and did your team learn what you wanted them to learn from the non-conference?
MJ: Well we played a lot of good teams and every weekend some weaknesses of ours were exposed and so that's a good thing. You're able to make adjustments a lot sooner and we're seeing a level of competition that's better than what our conference provides. So, we're not going to play anyone from here on out and struggle with certain things. We should be fairly battle tested. Am I happy with our record? Well, you want to win every match but we've only lost to great teams. We haven't lost to anybody mediocre. To get that level and win those games we've just got to clean up our act a little bit and I think we will.
bc.net: One of the things you talked about in the preseason with the non-conference schedule was being able to play your way into an at-large position and you have a couple of good wins in those six wins. Do you feel like you've achieved that or at least put yourselves in the conversation for an at-large?
MJ: Oh yeah, we're clearly in the conversation. Some of it will have to do with what kind of season those teams go on to have. The Wichita State win right now is clearly the best win, they beat CSU and they're going to win a lot of matches in the Missouri Valley. Hopefully NIU and Cincinnati can rebound from what was brutal scheduling. Cincinnati has a terrible record but they've played nothing but great teams. If they can get into the Big East and start getting some wins then that'll obviously help us. The same for NIU. The three losses to great teams don't hurt us at all. Obviously it could have helped us greatly to have another signature win besides Wichita State but if we go take care of business in conference and rack up a ton of wins then we're going to be in pretty good position.
bc.net: This week starts conference play, you take on Seattle first what do you know about them?
MJ: We just started watching them this week, they're not a bad team. They do some things that can give you trouble and this is a home game for them. We've got to learn how to play on the road and play well when you're traveling and we're looking forward to that challenge.
Idaho obviously a tough place to play, it's always been difficult for us. I was surprised we won as much as we've won there for a long time. The last couple years they've been giving us a little bit more problems. They're a good team and they return a lot of players and it's the end of the trip. We're going to have to rest up and we're going to have to get really fired up and play our best to win.
bc.net: Idaho is a pretty experience-laden team and they're coming off one of their better seasons in a while and they've got a standout player in Allison Baker (formerly Allison Walker).
MJ: Well Idaho has played a fairly strong non-conference schedule as well. They've played a lot of solid teams, a couple really good teams and they're record is really no indication of what kind of team they are. Baker is one of the best players in the conference and she's carrying a load for them night in and night out and that's not going to change. Anybody who coaches a kid like that is going to make her the focal point of the offense and she's doing a great job for them. I would expect her to play well against us as well.
bc.net: Heading into conference play what are some things you still feel like you need to clean up?
MJ: We can block a lot better. I think our decision making in transition needs to improve. We're talking a lot with our setters about making choices. The main thing is our preparation. In between points we've got to do more work preparing to score and communicating a little bit better. If we do those things it'll help a lot.
bc.net: How do you keep your team fresh because this is a much longer schedule than you've had for a couple seasons?
MJ: You've just got to take advantage of your days off, you've got to make sure you pay attention to how many swings, how many jumps your players are taking in practice and limit that as best as you can. Meredith doesn't need to be in our practice gym hitting a ton of balls every day. We need to be working other players and trying to improve them and getting her as much rest as we can while still keeping her sharp. It's more micromanaging a little bit and paying attention to their bodies.
bc.net: After this non-conference portion of the schedule what have you been most pleased with about the team?
MJ: I think we've got some fight in us. We've come back from deficits, we've dropped games and played well the next game. I like our fight. I think we're a competitive group and they enjoy playing together and it's fun to coach teams like that.