Aug. 25, 1997

Quoting Texas Tech Volleyball Coach Jeff Nelson

Opening Comments:
"This is the longest preseason we've had. It's the first time where school hasn't started in the middle of it. It's a lot more relaxing than taking a few days off for school starting has helped out. The practices have been good. We have seven newcomers- when you're talking about an 18-member volleyball team, seven newcomers is a lot. They've done a good job and have adapted well. We're starting two freshman this week so that's indicative of how well the newcomers have been. We've had good workouts this week, we're in good shape. The team is more physical than it's ever been. We're hitting the ball harder than we ever have. The thing we'll have to work through is inexperience and some ball handling things that will make us a better team. We can improve their ball handling and experience level every day at practice. We're in good shape. We open with UT-San Antonio this weekend. We don't know a lot about them. Then we play SMU and finish on Saturday with Portland and Ohio. It's a good starter tournament for a young team if we're headed in the right direction. Then, in two weeks we go out and play South Florida. South Florida was a Sweet-16 team last year. Probably about our fifth or sixth match, we'll need to see what we'll need to do to prepare for the Big XII Conference.

On the starting situation and leadership roles for the start of the season:
"Brande is our lone senior right now. She's done a fantastic job through preseason. She had a great year last year and has started this year at even a higher level. We're excited about that. Janelle Jones redshirted last year and she'll be a starter this year in the middle. In preseason, she jumped 10-feet-four inches and on a good day, she can get up and dunk a volleyball on a good day. Janelle's learning every day and getting better. Freshman Heather Hughes will also start primarily at the defensive back row position. She has come in and done a good job with some ball control and passing things that we need. Other probables are Angela Cooper and Courtney Putnam on the outside, Kristen Holmes on the right side, Brande and Lisa Hilgers returns for her third year starting at setter. We're going to take it one week at a time because we are so young and see what direction we're heading and reevaluate. It's been a test for me because I've had to be more patient than I've ever been in my career and it's been a good thing. We've just got to let them make mistakes and learn. They're athletically and talented enough to get better. We're excited about it, we want to encourage everyone to come out and see the new team. We play good defense, we hit the ball hard and we're a good block. It will be exciting for people to come out and watch."

On the schedule:
"We're in a much better situation than last year. We've got 11 kids ready to play rather than last year when we only had seven. If you look at our schedule, we have a string of games at home at the end our schedule. Last year in November we were at home only two of the last nine. It gives us a much better opportunity to finish strong. The Coliseum has been a big plus for us."

On Cristine Martin's situation:
"They have appealed the NCAA to reinstate her freshman year. It was denied but the case has been represented to the NCAA with additional information that our new academic coordinator Steve Uryasz put together. It's a much stronger case the second time around. If it happens and Cristine is able to play, it's a huge bonus. If it doesn't, we have not included Cris in the mix of some of the first team drills and things like that. If it does happen, Cris brings the things that we are weak on- ball control and serving. We'd be a much stronger team in terms of stability and having a second senior. Hopefully, things will work out. If not, she'll stay with the team as a student assistant. One way or another, she'll be around."

Quoting senior middle blocker Brande Brown at the press conference
On the team, her individual situation and being a senior: "I think we're going to be a really good team this year. We'll be much better than we were last year- depthwise- we have so many of the returning players that have been there before. Hitting-wise, we're better than we were last year. Defense-wise, we'll need to work on that. People coming in need to get into the groove to get ready for the Big XII Conference schedule. I like it (being a senior leader on the team). There's a little big of pressure there but it's nice to have people look up to you and ask questions of what's going on."


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