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UCLA Women's Volleyball Schedule

Wednesday at the Final Four Photo Gallery
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  12/14/2011

Dec. 14, 2011

In their first full day in San Antonio, the Bruins took part in their pre-National Semifinal practice, got in front of the camera with ESPN and talked to the media.

Wednesday at the Final Four Photo Gallery

Jeff Huehn Photo Gallery - Wednesday Practice

Wednesday Press Conference Quotes
Head Coach Michael Sealy
Opening statement ... "We're excited to be here. I think the girls have worked long and hard all season. This is a place that we wanted to get to and we're just very pleased to be here."

On who Florida State compares to from this season's schedule ...
"I'd say they're most similar to Oregon as far as the type of offense they run, which consists of a lot of combinations and a lot of misdirection. That posed a challenge for us during the season. It's something we don't see very often, but we're excited to get another chance at battling that system."

On the positive and negative side of playing in sync as a team ...
"I would say the strength and weakness of this particular team all season is that they're so in sync with each other. Whether it's senior or freshman, it's all the same. When they're in sync and supporting each other, we're great and we can accomplish amazing things. However, when we are in sync and we start getting disconnected, instead of one person falling out of the pack, the whole team will stay in sync and falls out of the pack. As long as they stay on the same page and keep getting each other's backs, regardless of the year in school, I think that's when we've played our best volleyball."

On focusing only on the next opponent ...
"All year long, it's been focusing on the next opponent. When we played Texas, I didn't see them play until they played Kentucky that same night. I think I became superstitious when I was working in Hawaii because we'd have all those preseason tournaments when you'd have three good opponents back-to-back-to-back. You just had to deal with the first night and deal with that match and then work on the next night. For me, if we were prepping for Penn State and then Texas back-to-back, five seconds spent on Texas was five seconds I wasn't spending on Penn State. Even for this, I literally haven't looked at one play. I haven't seen Illinois hit one ball. It's been all Florida State and we're just lucky that there is a day in between where if we are fortunate enough to move on, we can deal with it then.

"I choose to be [isolated]. My first year of coaching I remember [focusing on] who beat who and it just doesn't matter. You can get so spun out looking at what someone else does and if a random team in the Big Ten is having a great year, if you don't run into them in the tournament, how does it really affect your life? It just doesn't. I've just really dealt with whatever is on our plate dealing one step at a time and I'm just not spending too much cranial capacity on [other teams]."

On the growing parity in college volleyball ...
"Obviously you want to grow the sport. I think there has been enough parity this year that even if [Florida State] hadn't made it this far, there were so many big upsets. You look at all the Pac-12 teams that lost in the first and second rounds, I think there is enough parity to say that the sport is growing. I think back in the day, all the volleyball players were in Southern California and that's where everyone wanted to recruit from. The challenge now is trying to get a Texas kid out of Texas, or to go try to pull a Nebraska girl out of Nebraska. You see all these Big Ten teams and the girls are big and strong and amazing players, but with the early recruiting it's really hard to get a Midwest kid out of the Midwest. I think the parity is everywhere regardless of conference and who made what [round], but I think it's great for [Florida State's] conference."

On Penn State not reaching the Final Four for the first time in five years ...
"You see Penn State, you see the story of four [national championships] in a row, but if you look at the roster, they have freshmen and sophomores. They're a bunch of young kids. They are going to be unstoppable in two years. They're a great team. When you see Penn State, you see the name, you see four titles, but unless you're really looking at the roster, you're not seeing that they graduated a bunch of upperclassmen. I don't make anything out of it. They're a volleyball team."

On Penn State's four-year championship run ...
"The first two titles, it was ridiculous. They had six first-team All-Americans, then they maybe lost one player and the next year I think they replaced one outside hitter, so you still had your core and they had enough talent. The year after that they were still very good. I thought they had a couple places that could have been exploitable, but they were just so big and physical. It's a bummer for [Texas Head Coach Jerritt Elliott] in a sense that his team that lost in the final was probably the third best volleyball team in the history of college volleyball. They just ran up behind maybe the second best team. I thought last year it could have been anybody's [championship]. I think why Penn State won last year was because of the self-fulfilling prophecy: they knew nothing but winning. Everyone on the floor didn't know what it felt like to lose a game and they just kind of willed themselves through it."

Rachael Kidder, Jr., OH
On what Florida State has to do to beat them ...
"I think that we run a pretty quick offense, so good hands blocking and not letting us tool them quick. We're a pretty good ball control team, so I would assume they would have to have good ball control to keep up with us."

On the team mentality at the Lexington Regional ...
"We kind of played with nothing to lose. We made sure that we weren't worried about anything really, just playing our game, staying patient and not being on an emotional roller coaster throughout the match. If we lost points, it didn't matter. We'd just move on to the next point."

On managing emotions throughout the season ...
"Throughout the year, I've kind of been one of the people that can bring the team down emotionally if I'm not on my game. We kind of just help each other through it. We know that everyone goes up and down and if my teammates realize that I'm down, they do everything they can to bring me up and the same goes with them. It's such a team effort and we don't try to let one person's emotions affect everyone. It obviously happens on a team, but I think we've been pretty successful, especially in the past couple weeks, about really helping each other out, bringing each other up and just avoiding emotions in general."

On whether or not Penn State seemed unstoppable the past four years ...
"I don't remember ever watching and thinking we could never beat them or that they were always going to win. I was just kind of like, `Wow, that's a really good volleyball team.' It's kind of inspiring to watch girls like that who are really good and knowing maybe one day we could be that good. I think we're obviously just as good as them this year. I knew we always had a chance."

Lainey Gera, Sr., DS
On playing a senior leadership role ...
"We have more experience than the other girls [on UCLA] in the college game, so we always try to do what we can for the younger girls. This is the first time for all of us except Tabi [Love] here."

On UCLA's team mentality at the Lexington Regional ...
"We definitely talked about how we were not expected to win that regional at all. We were not expected to beat Penn State and we were not expected to beat Texas, so we were a little more relaxed in that sense without having any of the pressure. That definitely helped to our advantage."

On whether or not Penn State seemed unstoppable the past four years ...
"I never looked at a team winning back-to-back [championships] and thought they were just going to keep winning, or that they were so good that they were just going to keep going. I think you definitely wish you were in that position, but there was never a thought that Penn State was unstoppable at any point."

Lauren Van Orden, Sr., S
On playing a senior leadership role ...
"I'd say we are here to help each other out. Sometimes experience can help and if we can give advice or help out the younger players in our positions, then we try to do that. I think we all fulfill our roles on the court really well and we're there for each other."


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