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Thursday December 4, 2008Volleyball Pre-NCAA Tournament Media Opportunity

Gainesville, FL

The No. 11/10 Florida volleyball team begins play in the 2008 NCAA Tournament on Friday at 7:30 p.m. vs. FAMU. On Thursday, head coach Mary Wise and selected players met with the media regarding their upcoming match. Selected quotes from the event are below.

 

Florida head coach Mary Wise

 

“There are only 64 teams remaining and, of those 64, only 16 are playing on their home courts. I think we caught a break there with the ability to host. Although we didn’t play FAMU earlier this season when they were in Gainesville, it’s a team that we are very familiar with just because we run into each other often, especially throughout the history of the NCAA Tournament. This is not the deepest team we’ve played coming out of FAMU, but they are still typical of their teams in the past in that they’re very experienced and have a lot of international players with a ton of game. As we know, they do not have their setter with them, so they run a little bit higher offense. It’s a slower tempo, higher-set offense than what we’re used to. That’s different and something that we’re going to have to prepare for. We think the other match will be very entertaining with one of the best blocking teams in the country playing one of the more high-potent offenses in the country. Potentially, there will be three great matches here in Gainesville.”

 

On how Florida A&M has been able to be consistently successful …

“Tony Trifinov, who has been the head coach there for many years, is originally from overseas and I think he has done a terrific job bringing in international talent. In 2004, that was a team that went to Nebraska and won in Lincoln – not many people have done that. They obviously have had great success over the years in their league.”

 

On how the current team compares to past UF teams at NCAA Tournament time …

“What our goal is each and every year is to be playing our best volleyball at the end of the season and then you hope you have a little bit of luck. That luck has a little bit to do with health and that, a year ago, had a very different feel when Marcie Hampton had blown out her Achilles and was out. Right now, health-wise, we’re as good as we’ve been all year, understanding that one tweak here or there could change all that. If we line up all the teams we’ve had here, very few teams have improved from point A in August to point B in December like this group here.”

 

On whether the team is currently playing its best volleyball …

“I think we have been for the past few weeks, including a loss at Kentucky – we played awfully well. I think that the stretch from the Tennessee match (Nov. 14) on, we’ve taken a step up in our level of play.”

 

On the difference between the regular season and the NCAA Tournament …

“There’s a different level of excitement. Everybody comes into the NCAA Tournament 0-0 in that you earn your way to get in and then, once you’re in, the playing field becomes much more level. They do it by trying to neutralize the atmosphere of the courts and the surroundings to give everybody the best chance to be successful, even though we’re one of those lucky 16 teams that get to play at home. I expect it to have a level of excitement to it.”

 

On preparation for a potential second-round match-up …

“We learned that you can’t wait until after a first-round win to start looking at your second-round opponent, so throughout the course of the week, obviously we were working on FAMU, but we watched videotape on all three opponents. We have tried to combine information to find out what it is that all three opponents do the same and then, in particular, some things that are unique to each one. The majority of your time and emphasis has to be spent on your first-round opponent because there is no second round if you don’t get past the first round, as the cliché goes. It’s a 24-hour turnaround. This isn’t like in basketball where they have at least 48 hours. They have a day in between and without a day in between, you aren’t going to get much accomplished in a practice the morning you’re about to play.”

 

On the difference between the Gators now and when they lost to Colorado State on Sept. 13 …

“Whether we’re playing FIU or Colorado State, the difference between our team now than our team that was playing early September was we were fairly simple in our offense, fairly predictable and we were not serving and blocking at the level that we are now. Especially in the areas of serving and blocking, we are playing better volleyball now.”

 

On what has made the 2008 team so successful …

“I think the common denominator is these talented players who have worked awfully hard. You hear coaches say this often enough and it’s only because we can’t think of a better way to describe it – teams with great chemistry – and I think this team has that. It’s one of those things that’s hard to describe when you have it, but you really know when you don’t have it.”

 

On who needs to step up big for Florida in order for it to be successful …

“I don’t know if any one person in particular has to put up big numbers because this team has been the sum of its parts. This team is at its best when we’re getting contribution out of all positions, maybe not every single player, but all positions. I think for us to be playing well, that’s what we need.”

 

 

#7 Elyse Cusack, Jr., L

 

On Florida A&M, which the Gators will face Friday at 7:30 p.m. …

“We haven’t talked too much about them. We’ve really been focusing on what we need to do, but we watched the play early on this year in our tournament [Campus USA Credit Union Invitational] and we saw them two years ago in the NCAA Tournament. They’re a good team. They play a different style of volleyball and have a lot of foreign players who are very smart. They have all the shots and they’re hard to defend. We expect to get their best shot. They’re used to being in the tournament, especially playing us.”

 

On her thoughts in preparation for the NCAA Tournament …

“I’m pretty excited about it. We’re definitely playing our best volleyball right now and that’s right where we want to be. I’m really excited for the freshmen – they’re excited for the tournament and have never been here before. It’s a fun time.”

 

On whether the season can be deemed successful after winning the SEC Championship …

“We know that our season doesn’t end once we win the SEC Championship. We’re definitely expected to keep winning and we expect nothing less from ourselves. It has been a great season winning the SEC, but we want more than just that.”

 

On the NCAA Tournament bracket …

“It was pretty interesting how it worked out. We’re definitely pretty excited about being able to play opponents that we’ve already seen this year with FAMU and then potentially Colorado State. I’m happy with the way the bracket worked out.”

 

On whether the team feels any pressure to win entering the NCAA Tournament …

“It’s not so much pressure, it’s just that we’re just going to take it one step at a time and with every win, we’re going to be pretty excited about it.”

 

#35 Kelsey Bowers, Sr., MB

 

On the different feel of NCAA Tournament play …

“Every year when it gets to the tournament, everything seems to get a little faster paced since we are playing Friday-Saturday. It’s a different pace than the regular season, definitely, and we just have to make sure the younger players understand that you have to understand that the season is on the line every match. We can’t look ahead – we have to work on the opponents that we are playing at the time.”

 

On whether the 2008 campaign has been a successful season …

“I am very proud of how this team has done. We have won the SEC many times in a row, but that doesn’t make it any less special. We were very excited to win it this year. The SEC has gotten so much better and it was really challenging for us this year with coming close to sharing it with Kentucky. We were really excited to win it, but we’re in the NCAA Tournament to win it. We want to go as far as we can go, but I’m never going to be disappointed because I know that we are going to play as hard as we can.”

 

On how different it will be playing in the NCAA Tournament with a number of freshmen …

“I think you definitely gain a little bit when you have experienced players. They know what to expect, especially in the tournament. You have to really bring it each match, so I think we have to drill that into our freshmen early on, but we’ve been working on that all year long.”

 

END OF REPORT

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