Nov. 10, 1997

Texas Tech Women's Volleyball Weekly Press Conference

Texas Tech Volleyball Coach Jeff Nelson

Jeff Nelson
Head Coach Jeff Nelson. (file photo)

Opening Comments
"Our match Friday night at Texas A&M was a great win for us. We felt like if we could get a split on this road trip we would be in great shape in terms of the NCAA Tournament and different things down the road, even potential for a conference finish. It was a big win for us down there- the first time we've won down there in a number of years. I think some people had some big performances- Brande Brown played really well and came up big both nights this weekend. She had a great match against A&M with 18 kills as did Courtney Putnam who also had 18 kills. Sonia Moric has been coming on very big for us as of late. She had seven blocks in that match and also hit .500 for us in that match, which is just great. She has really come on and has solidified a starting position for us and is doing some great things for us. The match was long- three hours. We left everything we had at the gym at A&M and I was proud of them, they did a great job. Even if we didn't have anything left for Texas, that was okay because it was really just a great win for us. That's pretty much what happened to us on Saturday. We got in the match and got going and we had about a 12-hour turnover for the next match- which is one of the reasons why we're pushing for a Wednesday-Saturday schedule- we played the match and we're in the match telling our kids to 'play harder and you've got to go harder' and they're saying 'this is all my legs have.' We had to battle as tough as we could mentally and Texas is undefeated in the conference. Unfortunately, we couldn't get two wins but we're very happy and fortunate to get a win out of that road trip.

On the Red Raiders' upcoming matches:
"Looking ahead this week, we have Nebraska on Tuesday and we have Iowa State and Missouri this weekend. Nebraska is ranked 13th in the nation right now and we have two matches within the next 10 days against Nebraska and we feel we have to perform well against them. They've been more vulnerable this year than in past years. Missouri and Iowa State are must wins- we beat them both 3-0 the first time around. And then on down the road, we finish with five out of six at home so we're very happy to be done with all the traveling. Hopefully we can finish strong at home and get another NCAA berth and start the season over from there."

On what he feels the team must accomplish from here on out to get into the NCAA Tournament:
"We talked to the players after last weekend and pretty much laid it out. There are things the committee looks at in terms of importance- how you did in the second half of the season vs. the first, your wins against ranked opponents. Conference finish isn't as important as how you've done in your power matches. Looking at district rankings and national rankings, we feel that we've got at least six wins against teams we feel will be in the tournament right now and hopefully we can pick up a couple more within the next few weeks. I think when you have that many wins over ranked teams, I think they have to look very serious at you in terms of those at-large bids. Our tournament field was expanded this year as well. It's a 56-team field so we feel like our conference will get at least six berths- we could get a seventh berth, which would be unprecendented, but the strength of the conference is leaning towards that."

On the emergence of junior middle blocker Sonia Moric:
"Sonia and Janelle Jones have traded off at that position all year. Sonia has really picked up her numbers and has been a go-to player the last two-three weeks and has raised the level of emotion on the court. She's a very emotional player and she's a person the other players want on the court right now because she's a little fresher- she's hasn't played as much and she's excited about being out there playing. As the season winds down, you need some of that on the court and she's providing that."

On the lineup:
"There's other people seeing action and we're not afraid to try different things. We used all 12 of our players again this weekend and we're trying to keep them fresh. We've cut back our practice time to one-hour and a half. As of today, we're cutting back on our weightlifting program to keep everyone fresh for these last few weeks and give it everything we have."

On if he feels that if they didn't have that short turnaround, they could play with Texas:
"I'm not really sure if anyone in the conference can play with Texas right now. They were as good of a team that I've ever played against. They did some things that were really outstanding. The offense was fast, they transitioned as well as anyone we've played all year. With their size, it's really hard to score points on them. The match was certainly long enough, we were able to sideout against them, but scoring points was very difficult to do. I think they have so much confidence right now that I think they'll make a push toward the final four."


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