"We're off to a start. We purposely scheduled a lot of away games this year. Last year, we were a young team that struggled on the road but played well at home so we felt like we needed to make a change and get accustomed to being good on the road. We started off with a very tough San Francisco team. We didn't play our best against them but we definitely learned a lot. We saw our team improve as the weekend progressed. We have a lot to build on because we're still a young team. Alexis Cage, who is sitting with me, is a sophomore. The majority of our team are sophomores and freshmen. The thing we want to do this year is to see our team get better and be playing well by the time we get into conference. We see that ability in our team and our schedule is very tough in the preseason. We know that if we're playing well at the end of preseason, we'll be ready for the season. The team is working hard and learning every day. We have the athletic ability in the gym to do well and I'm excited to see where we go from here."
On the biggest challenge with a young team:
"Game IQ and understanding the game. I think one of the disadvantages is our top eight are so much more physically superior to the next seven that we get a false sense of greatness in practice. When we went and played San Francisco, we saw a much bigger block and more experienced team than we see in practice. We had a much needed wakeup call to really understand the level that we need to be at. As hard as it is to take that loss, you need that loss to see the bar and know what you have to do to meet it. When you have a young team that is eager to win, they're willing to take that challenge and come back to work to become better. We also build our practices to be a lot more challenging for them and now they understand why."
On things that let them know they're playing well:
"Cohesiveness is one thing we look at -- to see how well our team is clicking together. One thing we saw in San Francisco is that as soon as it got tough, everyone goes into themselves. When we were playing well against Bakersfield, we were coming together, talking more and clicking on all cylinders as a unit. That's an important part of the game of volleyball. It's really hard to play as individuals. When things are flowing really well, it shows. When one person is getting tight and starts making a lot of errors, we get quiet and that rhythm gets thrown off. We look to see how we're flowing, how comfortable we are, and how we rebound after an error or after a point from the other team. We look to see that we're not giving up strings of points. If we give one, then we get one back. We know we're doing alright and hanging in the game pretty well."
On the challenges rebuilding the program:
"We're focused on who we want to be. Having the athletes we have and seeing the work they put in, even just their mindset compared to the athletes in the past, is so different. The future is exciting. It's hard to experience loss and not achieve what you want every day, every match, but when we look at the long term and know where we're going, it's so exciting. Knowing that we're building a good foundation keeps us grounded. I think things are headed in the right direction. We made a shift because we're bigger, stronger and more athletic than we've ever been but that means more teaching and taking a step back in volleyball IQ in order to take a step further in other areas."
On traveling to Hawaii:
"We play No. 4 Florida and Hawaii, who is also having a good year. We need to rise to the occasion because this is a test of where we're headed. This weekend is a test and another step up from where we were last weekend. We have a huge step to take this week and right after, another huge step to next weekend."
On what her role is during a match:
"A big thing for me this year has been talking. We were so young in years past, we never really had that big voice on the team. When I started last year, we had a ton of seniors and I didn't have to play that role. I know when we start to get down, we get quiet and that's when things start going south. As long as we keep the talk and energy up, that's when we're at our best. That's going to be key this year, especially when we're in preseason and playing these top teams. We're going to need to keep up, even if we're down."
On what she loves about playing as an outside hitter:
"I like how many options I have and places to hit. I can go inside, outside, anywhere. I like that I can change tempos. You really are free to choose whatever you want. Because you're out there, you can see the whole court. You're not limited. In that part, I can help spread out our offense."
On when she started playing volleyball:
"I started the end of my eighth grade year. I played soccer before that, but I outgrew it. Ever since I started playing (volleyball), I knew it was the sport for me. Naturally, I'm good at it. I like how competitive it is and the team aspect. Everything about it was for me. The more I played it, the more I fell in love."