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December 9, 2016

Inky Ajanaku

John Dunning

Morgan Hentz

Madison, Wisconsin

Stanford 3, Florida State 1

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Stanford head coach John Dunning, freshman Morgan Hentz, and senior Inky Ajanaku. We'll start with an opening statement from Coach and take questions for the student-athletes and then take questions for Coach.

COACH DUNNING: We would like to congratulate Florida State. I think they've had to fight through a lot of stuff in their season, a little bit like we have this year. So to get to this point for both our teams, I think, is really, really good.

Other than that, I'd like to say I'm proud of these two sitting here. I think they did a great job during that match, carried a lot of weight for us, played at a very high level, and I'm looking forward to see what the two of them do tomorrow.

Q. Inky, you lose a first set, close one, come back from that point. What happened there? How did the -- what hit you? What turned around after the first?
INKY AJANAKU: I definitely think, as a team, we just got our nerves out, started to play together. For about 4 out of the 6 starters, it's their first time being in the Regional Finals, regional tournament. So we just realized just relax, come together, talk to each other a lot more because we have a tendency to get quiet when we get a little anxious. So we made it a point to talk our way through it and work our way through it, and we did that. I'm really proud of everyone.

Q. For Morgan, in the fourth, you're down a point. Nobody wants to have everything riding on 15 points, I can't imagine. So to finish it off there, what's the mindset?
MORGAN HENTZ: Well, I think the mindset is definitely to stay calm. I know I went up to all the passers and said, let's just get it high, nice and high. I know that, as passers, we have confidence in our hitters that they will put the ball away. So the mindset was to stay calm.

Q. Emotions at that point when you pull it out and it's over, Inky?
INKY AJANAKU: The question?

Q. What's your emotions at that point?
INKY AJANAKU: I was really proud of my team. I kept thinking, at the end of the game, I was like, they got this. They looked at each other, and they looked confident. I think that's the biggest thing is to be able to stay confident in this game because a lot of people are going to make a lot of great plays across the net. For you to be confident, like I can make some great plays too and come back at them, that's a really special team. I feel like we're starting to play like that, and it gets me really excited. I was really proud of everyone.

Q. Coach, yesterday you talked about it's fun playing a different type of team, a different team from a different conference. Can you tell, was that, like that first set, was that adjustment time, and then you kind of figured them out the rest of the sets?
COACH DUNNING: I think we figured them out a little bit, and I agree with Inky, I think that maybe on our side, there were some nerves in the first set, and I didn't think that would happen on the other side. I thought we had a pretty veteran team in Florida State that we were playing. So that's -- you know, you look for mismatches and emotions or experience or whatever.

But I also know that, as we've gone through the season, that the younger players that were carrying a big load on our team, they just keep learning every time they go out on the court. And getting themselves -- just jumping in in the first set and feeling out what it's like, and coming back. I think that was really one of the keys is to come back in that game and go, okay, we're okay here. We could have won that game or that set, and just --

And then I think from there, the learning kept happening, that it's like, okay, we've been here. We've done this. We've actually experienced really handling a team in set 3 that's really a good team in the playoffs. Then Game 4, Game 5, that's what it's like.

One of the things I think is really true, though, that Morgan really contributes to on our team, and so does Inky, is you win in the playoffs on defense. I thought Inky blocked some amazing balls today, had some great touches, and I thought Morgan just dug some crazy good balls all match long.

So I thought, as we went, those things took over and really helped us.

Q. After you've had 15 minutes to digest this one, any thoughts about the task ahead for you tomorrow?
INKY AJANAKU: From what we hear in the locker room right after the game, we're excited and ready to play. Wisconsin has a really great team. They come with a lot of fire and a lot of energy, and we're ready to match that. We're excited. I personally have never played Wisconsin, and I've been dying to play them. So I think it's going to be a great match.

MORGAN HENTZ: I'm very excited. I think it's very awesome to be moving on to the Elite Eight, and any team we face there, especially Wisconsin, is going to be a great team. So we have to come ready to play.

THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the student-athletes and take questions for Coach.

Q. Along the same lines, everybody focuses on the first match, but you know what your options are at this point the second night, if you get there. How much have you studied? Do you have any impressions of Wisconsin and what -- the team, the atmosphere, what's ahead for your team?
COACH DUNNING: I think one of the great things about coming to a venue like this is the fans. It's just exciting. For, I think, most teams, once the noise and the cheering and everything gets to a certain level, it's just exciting for everyone, and it just drives the athletes to kind of get immersed in the game, kind of get excited about what's going on more than normal. Wisconsin's used to it. We're not quite so used to it.

We have several venues in the conference that we go to that are like this. I could tell, just sitting in the locker room, our team is getting excited hearing it. And then it was different that, when we went out there, it was a lot of Wisconsin fans watching the game to see what the two teams were like, and the Florida State band making a bunch of noise. Tomorrow will be a lot different and more exciting for both teams, I think.

Q. How about, in terms of on the court where the match might be decided, you have certain areas that you think are critical for you and for them?
COACH DUNNING: You know, our team, our coaching staff, we studied all the teams that are here this week. That's what you're supposed to do. So we know them a bit. And then when we get to watch them in person, especially against a team like Ohio State that just fought for everything today, you get to know them a little more, and we realized that what we saw on tape wasn't quite right. We got to see the real Wisconsin out there on the court because it's all on the line, just like they saw with us.

Now we've got to go back and put our heads together and do a lot of work between now and 5:00 tomorrow. They have a wonderful setter, who's been great since the day she got on campus here, been the leader of the team, one of the best players in the country. I'm sure has a great career after this. She is one fiery person in control on the court out there. So you know you have to fight a team with a great leader.

We'll lean on Inky. She's a tremendous person in that respect as well. And, you know, in their match, it wasn't an offensive show either. It was a lot of great defense, a lot of blocking. We think all year long that our block has gotten involved in the result of games, and we're hoping that that's going to happen tomorrow so that Morgan and the rest of them can dig some balls around it. But I expect a defensive battle.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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