home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


December 13, 2018

John Cook

Mikaela Foecke

Kenzie Maloney

Lexi Sun

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Nebraska - 3, Illinois - 2

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

JOHN COOK: For us, this was another Big Ten battle. This is what it was like every week in the Big Ten. Illinois is a great team. I mean, they brought out the best in us. I think we brought out the best in them. It was a very entertaining, fun match to watch, whether you're a fan, a coach, a player.

Crowd got into it. We were here a year ago in the fifth, beat Penn State. We're used to it. Congratulations to Illinois on a heck of a season. Chris has done a great job with that team.

So pretty cool.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Kenzie, specifically to playing Illinois, what gave you belief coming out for the third set that you could win this match?
KENZIE MALONEY: I mean, it was pretty obvious we were struggling early. We kind of just said we need a new team to come out in the third set. We all just dug down deep and genuinely believed we could do that, turn the match around. I don't know, we just played with a lot of heart. It really came together for us in the third set, from then on.

Q. Mikaela, can you take me through the video challenge in game five. Did you think you got a touch? How were you feeling as the review was going along?
MIKAELA FOECKE: No, I definitely did not think I had a touch. If it wasn't for Lauren, I probably would have told coach, Don't challenge it. She convinced me, had my back. Won the challenge, so...

Q. Mikaela, your fans did turn out as you expected they would. Could you hear the Nebraska fans during the match?
MIKAELA FOECKE: Definitely. The Nebraska fans always bring it, they always turn out. I expect a bigger crowd on Saturday. I think without their support, obviously it's a huge help for us, a huge momentum builder when you have so many other fans cheering for each other along with us.

Q. Lexi, when you go into the locker room during the intermission, what do your teammates say to you to get you ready to go out there and bring your confidence?
LEXI SUN: I think this season, especially this tournament, I've been looking up to our captains right here. I think obviously they've been in this position before. They know how it's done, what needs to be done. I think we obviously weren't doing that in the first two games. I think just looking up to them, leaning on them, trusting in them.

Like Kenzie said, coming out as a completely different team than we were in the first two sets.

Q. Mikaela, for a fifth game, you were jumping up and down before it, warming up. Do you get energized in a match like that? Do you feel the same energy at 10-10 like the first game?
MIKAELA FOECKE: The first game was definitely a bit down. Obviously we didn't play our best level the first two sets by any means. I think we really made an uphill improvement. It was really hard. Obviously we struggled throughout different points, throughout all sets. I think in the fifth set, there was a lot of energy from both teams, from the crowd. It was just really fun to play in.

Q. Kenzie, you guys have one more match ahead, but how do you wrap your mind around you're going to play in the NCAA national championship for the third time in your career?
KENZIE MALONEY: Really hard to wrap my head around that. Like I said, I've said it before, I know this team has believed from the very beginning of our season we would be here, be in this position. So we're not going to be surprised by anything.

But, yeah, it's just hard to think that Mikaela and I have been here for four years in a row. I've been honored to play with her, be her teammate for these past four years. Hopefully we can end our career on a high note.

Q. Lexi, Mikaela wasn't getting a lot of swings in game four. That was a set you all needed to win. Did you feel like it was time for you to take over there?
LEXI SUN: I don't know. I didn't really realize she wasn't getting sets that game. I feel like at every point, I tried to do what I could to help the team in the best way I could. If I'm getting those sets, I'm trying to swing high hands, put the ball away.

I feel like as a team we did a pretty good job later in the game mixing it up as it went on, so...

Q. Kenzie, after the way the first two sets went, what kind of confidence does it give you going in to face an opponent like Stanford?
KENZIE MALONEY: Yeah, I don't think that we were playing Nebraska volleyball till the third set. I said yesterday if we're playing Nebraska volleyball, doing the things that we need to do to execute, then I don't think anyone can beat us.

Coming out on Saturday playing Stanford, if we're playing our game like we know how to, I think we'll end up with the win.

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

Q. If I were to ask you before the game that you'd have four blocks against Illinois and come away with a win, would you think that was possible? Why was it possible?
JOHN COOK: It's a great question. I was looking at the stats, our block stats. We take a lot of pride in blocking. It's been a strength. We led the Big Ten in blocking.

But Illinois does a great job. Poulter is a great setter, one of the best I've ever seen. She puts those hitters in such great positions, they're hard to block, hit high off our hands.

I got to look at the tape why. But, you know, we still out-dug them by one. You know, when you get to this point, you got to win close games in big points at the end of games. That's what this team has been doing a great job of the last five weeks, six weeks. Sometimes it's not stuff blocks, you get a touch and control it. I thought we did an okay job of that.

Illinois covers really well. I mean, we blocked some balls down. I don't know how they got them up. They cover great.

Q. When you're waiting for the TV interview after the match, the players had left, what are you thinking?
JOHN COOK: I don't know. I was just thinking this is a great Big Ten match. It was the best out of three against Illinois. It was an honor to play them. We're used to this in our conference. It was just a really fun match to watch, watch our team come back. We have four freshmen out there. Those guys, you know, stuck with it and battled.

I've been telling you guys in Lincoln all year, Foecke and Kenzie are great leaders. They willed that team, willed those kids to play.

Q. Talk about the maturing process of Nicklin throughout the season.
JOHN COOK: She looked like a freshman a couple games. But she's a great competitor. She's been the first freshman ever to start at Nebraska in the history of the program. Just shows you what kind of competitor she is, how much belief she has. She worked her way into that match and did a great job, got us some great swings when we needed it, especially in those last three games.

She's fearless. She's fearless.

Q. Foecke for four years now seems to come up so big right at the Final Four, takes incredible swings, serves really well. Talk a little bit about her impact.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, I mean, I wish I could have the secret to what makes her go. Sometimes I think, Why doesn't she play like that all year long (laughter)?

The best way I can explain it is that Mikaela has a very deep inner confidence. She has a deep belief in everything that she does, academically, volleyball-wise, whatever it is in life.

I think it's part of her upbringing, coming from a farm where you're tough, you don't complain, you just find a way. She's got it in other DNA. She's proven it over and over and over.

Q. Could she be what the national team needs on the left side?
JOHN COOK: I know Karch wants her to take a shot at that. The problem is she applied for vet school. She wants to be a veterinarian. I think it's tough to get into vet school, so she's going to have to debate that.

Q. I asked you at the regionals about role players. Capri comes up big in the fifth set. How big was that?
JOHN COOK: Huge. That rotation was giving us problems because we got matched up with Poulter serving into it. She gave us fits. That's one of the reasons we got blown out in game two. We rotated so we couldn't get Poulter serving into our rotation.

She's got to get kills. They're all over Lexi in that rotation. If we set her the ball, she's got to kill it. It was a rally we got in. She got a huge kill.

She's been doing a good job for us.

Q. In two years for Chris Tamas, getting this team to this point, how would you evaluate the job he's done at Illinois?
JOHN COOK: I'm not surprised. I picked him to finish second in the conference this year behind Minnesota. He's got three great players in Poulter, Quade and Bastianelli. We've been playing Poulter and Bastianelli for four years now. They're great players. He's built a really nice team around them. Quade, she's as good as any player I've seen all year long. He's done a fantastic job. He's got a great staff. He's got Jen as his secret weapon.

It's kind of a bittersweet match. I'm glad we won, but it was an honor to play them. It represented the Big Ten really well, represented both programs really well. We're going to continue to have battles like this because he's a very good coach. I didn't want to lose him, so...

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, coach. Appreciate it.

JOHN COOK: Thanks you guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297