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December 13, 2018

Tami Alade

Audriana Fitzmorris

Kevin Hambly

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Stanford - 3, BYU - 0

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Stanford. We will start with opening comments from coach.

KEVIN HAMBLY: First, just congratulations to BYU. They had an incredible year. I think we all know that wasn't the team we saw throughout the year. For whatever reason, nerves or whatever, their first time being in the Final Four, I think we had a huge advantage having been here the last couple years.

We have a lot of respect for that team.

What we did defensively against them tonight, we didn't expect that. We thought we could play some pretty good defense, but didn't expect to hold them to negative.

I'm really proud of the effort. I think for a lot of these players, it was nice to get back on the horse, if you will, in the semifinal, come out and compete, be the aggressor. We weren't the aggressor last time. We're looking forward to the next match.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athlete.

Q. Seemed like the right side block, their left side attack, when Morgan at the angle, hard for them to top.
AUDRIANA FITZMORRIS: Yeah, they have great outside hitters. It was a priority to stop that. We tried to work on that in practice. Tami did an incredible job closing, our middle did an incredible job closing. Morgan was on fire tonight.

It was incredible to see. I'm glad we were able to execute that plan.

Q. Tami, could you talk about your night.
TAMI ALADE: Blocking has always been one of my favorite parts of volleyball. It's something that Kevin works on us middles a lot. We knew, like I said before, they run a fast offense. Trying to close is really, really important. More importantly than that is really pressing over on the block.

Before we go into a game, we talk ourselves up, We're going to press super hard today. I think today was a really good dimension of us executing on that skill.

Q. Audriana, against Penn State, going to that game, for a while they kind of had your number a little bit. Tonight it seemed like you made a few adjustments, whether going line, cross-court. What were you feeling tonight?
AUDRIANA FITZMORRIS: Yeah, I think above all just kind of coming in and being aggressive from the start. Definitely I've been working on it. Being aggressive from the start, working through the different angles, talking with Jenna, communicating with her about the set. Yeah, coming from the start being aggressive, trying to attack them. Being the aggressor, not waiting for them to do something.

Q. Tami, put this night into perspective being a senior, in light of last year. What are you feeling right now?
TAMI ALADE: I've been waiting for this game all year basically. It was a nice redemption tour. At the same time I know it's my last opportunity. The mantra going through my head, fight for your right to play with this team as long as possible.

I think we did that because we got to play in the last possible game we have for the season. So I'm really excited we were able to finish where we wanted. But I think the cherry on the cake would be to win the national championship.

Q. Audriana, how has this team evolved from the start of the season, that five-setter against BYU, to now in terms of your own development as a group?
AUDRIANA FITZMORRIS: Yeah, I think our team has grown so much from the start of the season to the end. We had a tough pre-season schedule, the Pac-12, every single team brings something different.

I think working on every single aspect of the game, being able to make more out of system, hitting attacks possible, our defense has grown incredibly. I think our service was awesome. In general, being more aggressive, being able to stay together especially when teams challenge us. I think that showed tonight, they're a challenging team. But we stayed together in those tough moments.

Those are areas we've evolved tremendously.

Q. How has the scouting report evolved for you in terms of your ability to take in information?
AUDRIANA FITZMORRIS: Yeah, so this year is the right side. Learning how to watch the other team, how to pick up information, especially from the outside, I think has evolved tremendously, being able to watch more, kind of pick up on the little things.

I feel a lot more comfortable in this position at the end than for sure from the beginning. It's been a journey and a process, but one I'm thankful for.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much. We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q. How much freedom does Morgan have to rearrange the serve-receive? Is that her call or your call?
KEVIN HAMBLY: It could be both. Morgan has a lot of freedom to do whatever Morgan wants to do for the most part. She does it within the confines of our system. She understands our system. We have given her a lot of freedom and a lot of authority, if you will, to kind of take charge of the pass, take charge of the defense.

Q. You obviously won a lot of games this year. Where does that one compare in terms of hitting on all cylinders?
KEVIN HAMBLY: We didn't pass well in that match, despite what Audriana thought. I think mostly it was a good defensive effort. We took things away from them.

Losing Miller for them makes them very different. They have to rely on Jones-Perry a lot. It makes it a little bit easier to key on them, especially if they're off the net. I thought it was a good defensive effort. I thought we did a nice job with the block. Morgan was great. We executed the game plan well.

But I think we can be better offensively. We have been better offensively.

Q. You spent so much time at Illinois. What would it be like to play them for a national championship?
KEVIN HAMBLY: The match will be a volleyball match. That's all it will be. It won't be about who we are as people, our history, all that. In that moment, it will just be a team that's a very good team, that has a very good shot to beat Nebraska. I think that's a great match. It will be our players playing their players. That's how it was. We played at Illinois, it just felt like a volleyball match. There's not a lot of emotion around it as far as being more than a volleyball match.

Q. Does it help that you recruited a couple of these players, knowing how to scout them?
KEVIN HAMBLY: I haven't coached them that much. I've only coached at most the two seniors, Jordyn and Ali, I've coached for basically three semesters. They're very different players. They've grown up.

I know them well as human beings. As players, they've evolved and grown, just like these guys have grown and evolved.

I don't think it will help or anything. It will just be a normal volleyball match, a great match.

Q. How have you grown since you took the Stanford job?
KEVIN HAMBLY: Well, I think these guys, they obviously are really bright. You better know what you're bringing to the table if you're going to talk about anything that has to do with science. They're going to ask why, and they'll dive into it, and they're going to understand that. There's a lot of strength with that.

Like I said with Morgan, she understands why we want to do the things we want to do defensively. She embodies that as well as any group I've been around. I say that about everything.

I think also I've grown with these guys as far as I've gotten to know them better, how to coach them. It's a different job than it was at Illinois. It took me a good year to figure that out.

I would also say because of how fast these guys learn things, I had to mix up things in practice and change the way I went about practice. Completely adapted and have grown as far as challenging myself every day to make sure I'm not nailing one drill in, that I'm doing everything. I think as a coach sometimes when you do a passing drill, we're going to do this one, work on sideout, let's do this drill. I've tried to come up with as many drills as I can to keep these guys interested because they get bored easy.

Q. Talk about Tami. She didn't think she was good enough to play volleyball in college, now the nation's top blocker.
KEVIN HAMBLY: I mean, yeah, we had a conversation earlier. I think when she started to realize that we didn't have any other middles last year to play, I really wanted to move Tami to the right side, that we needed her to play middle. She committed to be the best player she can be.

I think a lot of it had to do with -- well, the have to is important. She knew she had to do it. She didn't want to let her teammates down. That's how it started.

Last year she'd get a swing and score. She'd get a block, she looked surprised. "I can't believe I did that." She would actually say that coming off the court. Through that she gained confidence.

She's trying to master the craft of blocking, attacking as much as she can. Every team has growth mindset on the walls. Everyone talks about that. She absolutely has had a growth mindset.

We were walking down the skyway walk, she's working on her arms to get over the net. Me and Courtney were walking behind her. That's what she's thinking about from her walk from here to there. She's just trying to be the best player she can be.

This is her last volleyball match tomorrow, she's done after, which to me means more because it's not she's not trying to do it for a pro career or more money. I'm proud of her and her commitment to her teammates. You don't see that all the time.

Q. That focus from last year to this year, you said last year they didn't have that focus in the Final Four, how much of that just came out in this match tonight, the devastation of not getting to the championship match?
KEVIN HAMBLY: I mean, 100%. I think they all were really disappointed. The only match we were really disappointed in was the semifinal, how we came out. All we've been playing for all year was to get back to the semifinal, then to do it right. Obviously I think we hopefully learned our lessons about how we need to approach the game, how aggressive we need to be, how loose we need to be, all those things.

The next step for us is obviously to continue that on Saturday night.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

KEVIN HAMBLY: Thanks, guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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