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NCAA WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP


December 17, 2014


Inky Ajanaku

Madi Bugg

Jordan Burgess

John Dunning


OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

COACH DUNNING:テつ First, I'd like to say that it's an honor for the four us to be up here representing our school, the rest of our team and staff.テつ We had a wonderful season, it's very exciting fun team to coach, always have fun, always work hard, strive to be a team and that's been a really neat process we've gone through.
And we're very happy to be here.テつ I want to congratulate the other three teams that have gotten to this point.テつ Very exciting point to be in the season, no doubt.
All's you had to do was walk in, look at the arena this morning, see this is a big‑time thing we're involved in and we're happy to be here.

Q.テつ Inky, you're the local coming home.テつ Can you rewind a little bit and talk about when you realized that this year you could potentially get to come back to your home state and just your emotions that this has all happened for you guys?
INKY AJANAKU:テつ Yeah, they told me the Final Four would be in Oklahoma the day after we lost.テつ So mixed emotions there.
But I was really excited to hear that it was back in Oklahoma.テつ And it's kind of surreal being in Oklahoma and playing in such a big arena.テつ I watch the OKC Thunder all the time and I get to play on the court where they play, so I'm really excited.

Q.テつ Jordan, I don't know if I talked to you after Stanford‑Penn State back in September.テつ I don't know.テつ I know I talked to Madi and Inky.テつ Anyways, is your team different, better, worse, the same than September and why?
JORDAN BURGESS:テつ I think we are better than we were in September.テつ I think everyone always strives for that, when you go through a season.テつ But I think our offense is more balanced than it was in the past and our serve and pass game has definitely gotten better.
Something we've always focused on is being a team as we continue throughout the season, and I think we've done a really good job of making each other better throughout the whole season.

Q.テつ John, same question.
COACH DUNNING:テつ I think when we get to the court tomorrow we'll find out if we're better, playing a team we played in September.テつ Had a great match with them.テつ One of our goals certainly this year is to be one of the teams that works to get better every week.
It's a really hard goal to achieve.テつ I'm really proud of this team because I think in the last month we might have improved more than we had the rest of the season.
I think there's some people really stepping up and playing different roles, and so I'm sure all the teams that are here are better.
But I think we're probably a lot better than we were earlier in the season.

Q.テつ Inky, you guys, I guess, flew into Tulsa and you had a chance to visit some family.テつ Can you just talk about that whole experience and what you guys had a chance to do?
INKY AJANAKU:テつ Yeah, I was really happy that John and Denise decided to come to my house for dinner.テつ My mom was really nervous.テつ It was fun.テつ It was fun.テつ Watched some TV, hung out, had some Mexican food.テつ I'm glad everyone got to come and spend time at my house with me.

Q.テつ John, can you assess the other match?テつ You know enough about them both.
COACH DUNNING:テつ Yeah, they're‑‑ hmm, I wasn't anticipating that question.テつ The match before us tomorrow.テつ We're obviously very focused one day at a time.
If we happen to get to that point, we'll pay attention to them.テつ But it's so even now in college volleyball.テつ There's so much parity.
We had an amazing match against Michigan State in the second round, 23‑all in Game 4.テつ So the level is of all the teams at this point in the year is amazing.テつ There's teams always good and there are teams on the rise.
And have you to look at BYU as a team that's on the rise, at the end of the season.テつ They played some amazing volleyball.テつ And Texas has been good every year for the past decade.
So I think it's just going to be a great match.

Q.テつ Coach, what did you learn about your team after the loss to Washington?
COACH DUNNING:テつ We kind of knew we were leading up to that match.テつ All season long people were talking about it.テつ Our conference is set up so we were only going to play them once.
And there's no question that they're a rival of ours.テつ There's no question that each year we have to contend with them for the Pac‑12 championship.テつ They're really well coached.テつ They have the returning player of the year on their team, Krista, just amazing.
And we also knew that for us there was a goal beyond that.テつ And so going into that arena, knowing how comfortable they are, how well they were going to play, 85,000 people, it's almost like you're getting to be in a Final Four setting before you're at the Final Four.
And so I think our team knew that it wasn't everything on the line, even though we would love to beat them.テつ But what they did‑‑ our team did react to was a chance to see what another team could do to us.
And they showed us that we weren't ready for this week yet; that we had some things that we had to go back to the gym and really believe in that we were going to do, because they made us not look the way we wanted to look.
And so I'm proud of this group, because they just gritted their teeth and said let's go next week and got back in the gym and worked hard and we've gotten better since then.
It's a match we could learn from, win or lose, and we did and that's not easy to do.

Q.テつ You did mean 8,500, right, not 85,000?
COACH DUNNING:テつ Did I say 85,000?

Q.テつ That's a lot of volleyball fans.テつ Yeah, Madi started laughing.
COACH DUNNING: テつOkay, we were losing.テつ It seemed like a lot of people.
(Laughter.)
Q.Inky, do you have a friendship, rival, hatred, anything with Micah?テつ Do you guys have a relationship?
INKY AJANAKU:テつ No, we do live in the same state but live an hour and a half away from each other.テつ We played each other a couple times during high school.テつ But, no, I think we both have mutual respect for each other.

Q.テつ Since we're on the Micha train now, she's MVP last year in this very tournament.テつ What's the challenge that she brings to the table for your team?
COACH DUNNING:テつ She's a great player.テつ I mean, obviously that's an understatement, maybe.テつ She's one of those players that is at the very center of her team and she draws a lot of attention to herself.
Probably takes it away from the hitters a little bit, because she's an attacker.テつ She's a great server.テつ You get the feeling that she's the one attacking maybe more than other people.
But I think maybe the most important couple of things that she's extremely experienced.テつ She's been here.テつ She understands what it's like.テつ We got to feel that last year in the match we played against them.
She just is going to take control when she should as a setter and key part of the team and she can take control in a lot of different ways.

Q.テつ Can I ask you to follow up on that, she's a local.テつ Inky's obviously from the state.テつ Oklahoma is not known as a volleyball hotbed, not like California or Texas or some other places.テつ Do you see that as you recruit players?テつ Is that changing?テつ Is it pockets?テつ What do you see out of the state in the area when it comes to volleyball?
COACH DUNNING:テつ I've been around long enough I've kind of seen the growth of volleyball from a very early stage.テつ And I think there have been decades, almost, since I've been around, where the growth has been continuous.
It's an amazing sport growth‑wise, and I think the period we're going through right now is a period of greatest growth.テつ And so areas where maybe there hasn't been as much volleyball I think it's just going to continue to explode.
It's an elegant sport.テつ I mean, is a word I like to use with it or in describing it.テつ I think the athletes are amazing.テつ And I think the cool part about volleyball is there's so many people in such a small place.
It is all choreographed.テつ They just have to work together so well.テつ And if you want to win at this level and try to do it without being a really good team in that sense, it isn't going to work.テつ And so all the teams that are here, you just are going to be able to watch them and see the great teams sense.
And I think that appeals to everyone who likes sports.テつ So Oklahoma, California, Texas, Illinois, whatever the area is, volleyball is just exploding, and it's really cool to see.

Q.テつ Just because I know how smart you are and nobody is talking to you, Madi, have you got anything?テつ Thoughts about the match?
MADI BUGG:テつ I'm excited to be here, excited to be playing Penn State again.テつ I don't know.テつ Happy to be here.

Q.テつ Inky, you practiced I think last summer a little bit with the national team.テつ Could you talk about what that experience meant for you, how it's impacted you throughout this entire college season?
INKY AJANAKU:テつ Yeah, it was definitely a rewarding experience.テつ Actually, I was just very excited to come back to my team here and get a lot of work done, and it showed me a lot of things I needed to work on.
And I was excited because I'm more comfortable in the Stanford gym and my teammates helped me become the best player I could be and it was fun to have that experience and have them keep helping me get better.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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