Dec. 1, 2011
TENNESSEE HEAD COACH Rob Patrick
"The first thing is I'm really proud of the team. When half of your team that is out there has never been in an NCAA Tournament, finishing up their first season and being able to come out and play a very steady first match in an NCAA Tournament was very good. They've been doing what they've been doing all year long, (which) is playing beyond their years. We did a great job of following the gameplan. I thought the players did a fantastic job of that.
"I thought we were very patient in our offense, both when we were receiving and serving in transition because Duke played just a fantastic defensive game. It could've gotten hairy out there if we would have gotten a little short-sighted and a little antsy to try and get a kill earlier in the rally, and we didn't do that. That's one of the things I really emphasized after the match with our team that we did a great job. We made some adjustments at the break that I thought was very good that the players adjusted to and we were able to slow down some of their hitters on the Duke side."
(on Leslie Cikra being Tennessee's hot hitter tonight)
"We have a lot of hitters that we can go to. As the match goes along, we kind of know how Duke wants to defend in general, and then we kind of try to figure out what they're trying to do to defend us particularly as the match goes on. Every team tries to do different things. Some teams we've played in the past have tried to take DeeDee (Harrison) out of the equation all the time, so that opens up things. As this match went along, I thought Mary (Pollmiller) did a great job. A lot of times, I'll tell her `Hey, this is going to be open.' I let her kind of play today, especially in the transition sets. She did a great job of finding her hot hitter, and it just so happened to be Leslie (Cikra). There weren't single blocks all the time when Leslie was hitting. There were double blocks. It's just that Leslie is such a physical player that when she contacts the ball at the height of her jump, it's pretty tough to defend at the net especially. She hit some angles that a lot of teams don't see. She ended up being our hot hitter at that time, and really did a great job of getting us into that match."
(on losing focus after a strong showing in the first set)
"This happens to us this year. Every team has a personality. And this team has a personality that once they know they're going to win, they become disinterested. They really do. We really played a great first set. Duke didn't really play its best and I knew that. The players, they just thought, `Oh, gosh. We're just so much better than Duke. We're going to win.' So they just started playing volleyball rather than playing against Duke. That's what I was trying to get across to them is that we really had to get back on task. We weren't on task. We weren't calling out what Duke was running and the play-calling. That was the thing I really tried to get with some of the players to get better at. That's what we talked about during the break."
(on the difference the crowd makes)
"The crowd has been fantastic. Normally, I don't hear anything. I literally don't hear anything when I'm coaching. But I did hear the crowd when we were down a little bit in the second set and then also in the third set when we were down. We had to make some runs here and there. The crowd has been fantastic. It's not an accident that we have such a great winning percentage at home. A lot of it has to do with - obviously, that we're comfortable here - but the great crowd support that we've been getting. We've broken the attendance record four years in a row. They really help push us through some rough spots. Sometimes, when you have a young team like that you need a little bit of that. Sometimes, it doesn't have to come from the coach. It comes from the crowd and they've able to get the energy going. They did a great job. I can't thank them enough for coming out on a Thursday night, which isn't a normal volleyball night, and supporting and pushing us through against a very well-coached Duke team, which played just a great defensive match and offense. There were some hitters we couldn't stop. The crowd really helped us especially with the energy when we needed it."
TENNESSEE JUNIOR Leslie Cikra
(on playing against middle-driven Duke)
"We haven't faced a lot of teams that are middle-driven in the SEC and so it was a big challenge for us, but I think our middles were ready for it. We just had to focus on the pin hitters coming in to help more than they normally would and be able to focus on that as opposed to focusing on the other team's pin hitters."
(on her role in the third set)
"We always start off and set our middles to get that set up for the rest of the game. All of my hitters worked really hard to get things like that set up for me in the third set."
(on being an Ohio native and having the chance to play Ohio State on Friday)
"I've been waiting to do this since I got here. The coach over there (Geoff Carlston) recruited me when I was getting recruited. I'm really excited. This is a matchup I've been waiting for, so I'm very excited about that."
TENNESSEE SOPHOMORE Kelsey Robinson
(on Tennessee's shift in focus after the break)
"I think during the first and second games, we did go on runs and then they went on runs. I think the biggest thing we focused on in games three and four was being able to sideout right away in certain rotations that they were getting on runs, just being able to set our hot hitter and put the ball away on the first serve (to) sideout right away. I think that was what we were focusing on for the third and fourth games."
(on the play of Tennessee's freshmen)
"I thought they played great. They were mentally ready for the game. As a freshman going into the NCAA Tournament, obviously you're going to be nervous. You don't know what to expect and just that feeling is a little overwhelming. I thought they handled it well. They played like upperclassmen. Going into the tournament, (Coach Patrick) told us what we all needed to do and he finished with `Freshmen, you need to sophomores now.' Hats off to them. They played great and they helped us stay in that match."
DUKE HEAD COACH JOLENE NAGEL
"We're very disappointed that we weren't able to execute just a little bit better tonight in order to come out on top. I think the biggest disappointment for this team is that it's the last time they get a chance to play with each other and compete as a team. They really were all in, as far as trying to get this match tonight. It's been like that throughout the year, and I think it's been a really special team, whether they were on the court or on the sideline.
"Everybody really had the best interest of the team as a priority. The year kind of taught us about the team that it is a very selfless team, they challenged each other, they all wanted to be the best out there, but they also supported their teammates in their successes as well. I've been doing this for quite a long time now, and one thing I feel like with this team is that it was a real special team in regard to supporting each other and wanting what was best for the team throughout the year, too."
"We knew they had great size and everything and were very successful at the net. We knew we would have to touch a lot of balls on the block to slow them down to hopefully be able dig them in transition. We really talked a lot about blocking and trying to get touches, and our team's goal has been relentless pursuit. That was our players' one focus going out there tonight - was relentless pursuit. We knew that would be a big, important piece, as well as us serving really tough, because if they weren't able to be in system all the time, that would really help us. They did a very good job of making the most out of even a pass that wasn't great in order to be successful."
(on the Lady Vols' height advantage and whether they've seen anything like that this year)
"No, I don't think we have. We've played some big teams and some good blocking teams, maybe better blocking teams than Tennessee, but there were some big players out there tonight, for darned sure. I don't think we've seen as many of them at once. They did a great job. They have a lot to look forward to because of their talent, and they certainly did a great job tonight. We're disappointed that we weren't able to pull it off, but at the same time we know they are a good team, and they executed well tonight and better than we did."
(on utilizing runs to gain momentum, particularly in Duke's set two win)
"That's volleyball as you know, certainly, those momentum swings like that. That's what you have to be careful of, and certainly stop, if they are going against you. We didn't do a good enough job of that tonight. I think in game one there was a rotation where they got quite a few points on us and took us out of that some. We needed to try and stop that a little sooner and didn't do a good enough job. I think our serve was working really well and fed our runs in game two. For the most part, we didn't serve badly, but at times I would have liked to serve a little tougher. That would have put a little bit more pressure on them, and then we could have seen what we possibly would have done. Those runs I don't think any coach is happy about seeing when they go against you like that, and certainly if we had the opportunity to play tomorrow we'd be talking about that, and that's something that has to be a goal of ours to not let happen."
DUKE SOPHOMORE LIBERO ALI McCURDY
(on the season Duke had)
"Last season, we got really fired up in the tournament and made it to the Elite Eight, so this year that was what we strived to do and possibly go farther. I think that the leadership of our four seniors was huge, and it was a new team. We had some big wins and it stinks to come out on this side of it tonight, but Tennessee was a great team. As coach said in the locker room, they are going to go far. We played well, but there are certain times that you've got to get the momentum, and that was for them tonight. Overall, this season, we're fortunate to have been here in the first round to play such a talented team."
DUKE SENIOR SETTER KELLIE CATANACH
(on what she took away from this season)
"For me, it was my last shot, my last chance. Going into it (season), I really just wanted to enjoy every moment of it, and I think that is something that the three other seniors in my class and I really did. We learned to leave a legacy for Duke Volleyball and make an impact on the younger players, not just in terms of volleyball but in their lives as well. I think we succeeded in that. For me that's really what is most important, not that we finished the season with a loss but everything that happened throughout the season."