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December 18, 2019

Kevin Hambly

Jenna Gray

Morgan Hentz

Kathryn Plummer

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome the Stanford Cardinal Coach Hambly and student-athletes Kathryn Plummer, Morgan Hentz, and Jenna Gray.

KEVIN HAMBLY: We're really excited to be here in Pittsburgh. We've enjoyed our time here. Been here since Monday. It's been really cool to be able to take a look at some of this city.

And I want to say congratulations to all the teams here. Obviously it's been a really cool year from a volleyball standpoint, a lot of parity and a lot of teams that have -- from varied conferences that have done a great job this season.

And really looking forward to this tournament and excited to see how we compete and if we can end this season the way we want to.

Q. Kathryn, talk about the period when you were out. I know you've been saying you've been playing for years, and when something's suddenly taken away, suddenly you have this affection that maybe before you didn't. And what was that emotion for you during that period of time?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: Not playing, it was a big challenge. I think it gave me a different perspective and gave me definitely a different role that I think I use now when I play, helping younger players kind of figure it out because they're tossed into it and just had to help us win.

So I think, being on the sidelines, you see the game in a really different way. I think that was actually beneficial for me now.

Q. Jenna, can you tell me a little bit about Madeleine, what it's like to play with her, what you thought when she joined the team? It's obviously worked out fairly well.
JENNA GRAY: Yeah, it's worked out very well. We said from the start we were so thankful to have her just because, A, we didn't have to play against her anymore at UCLA, and it's even better to have her with us. But she works so hard every single day, and she was such a seamless integration into our team, just from her personality to she's the nicest, the sweetest, very soft-spoken, very intellectually curious, which we really appreciate.

But on the court she works so hard and she's really, really hard on herself, and she's going to work every single play, every single moment to get better and be the best player she can for the team. So we've loved having her.

Q. Along the same lines, you know the history, that there hadn't been a transfer come in, what did you think when you found out she was going to join the team?
MORGAN HENTZ: Yeah, I think knowing Madeleine's personality, I don't think any of us were like super scared for her to come on the team or anything like that. I know there's been that history of there not being a transfer, but like Jenna said, her personality and the way she approaches volleyball and academics, like she fit in pretty seamlessly with the team.

Q. Morgan, just some thoughts on when Kathryn got injured, what was the mindset of the team and obviously you got through it quite well with having her out of the lineup?
MORGAN HENTZ: Yeah, it was really tough. I mean, it's been huge for our team, like, over the years she's a huge player, and obviously we want her on the court whenever she can be. But I think it really forced all players on our team to step up and help fill in some of the roles that Kathryn has definitely succeeded immensely in.

Q. Jenna, I know like in your locker room you guys have all those pictures of the great Stanford teams. What does it mean to you, and actually Morgan and Kathryn, if you could answer, too, what does it mean? I know your goal is to win, but to get to four Final Fours, which is so rare in any sport, what does it mean to be back here for the fourth time?
JENNA GRAY: It's definitely an honor, and having those pictures up in our locker room I remember coming on visits, and then even like to this day we still go through and, like, we look at those pictures and we look at those players there every single time. And like especially, like, there's the trophies, and every time we go to the Final Four, people going back to back.

That's definitely been such an aspiration for us, and it seems like a dream again to be back here. We're definitely so thankful to be still practicing today and getting after it.

MORGAN HENTZ: I definitely echo everything Jenna says, being in here in this moment is really special, and I think we definitely all recognize and appreciate that. And then seeing the legacy and history of like Stanford volleyball in our locker room every day has been super cool and it's been a motivating factor in all of our seasons.

KATHRYN PLUMMER: I echo everything you just said, but also I don't think coming in it was ever, oh, my gosh, we know we're going to do this. There was definitely a lot of hard work put in. People had to step up in different situations, people had to learn different roles. We had to grow as leaders. And as Morgan said, we look up to those people and the legendary program of women's volleyball, and I think it's cool we get to add to that.

Q. Kathryn, the last time I saw in person was when you played Minnesota, which was not the best day of your season, and it's kind of interesting how it's come full circle in that was the beginning of when you started having health problems, I think, as well and then the loss to them. Thoughts about playing them again?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: Super excited. Minnesota is a really good team. Both of our teams have grown in different ways. We've both gotten a lot better, definitely. But, yeah, we're just excited to be here. Excited for a good semifinal match. Excited to play a different team. We're used to Pac-12 teams, so it's good to play Big Ten teams and have fun with that. We're just looking forward to it, and it should be a great match.

Q. You talked about the other side of being out and being injured, but in any way are you a better player coming back after that injury?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: I think so. Like I said, you had to see the game in a different way, and so things that I saw on the bench that were working or that we could do, I've been trying to implement that in my game. And I think it's easier for me now to speak up because I had to do that when I was off.

And so I can kind of help -- I'm trying to help people see different things and talk about it in a different way.

Q. Jenna, what do you remember about the Minnesota match earlier this year? What did you learn about them, and what will be the keys to beating them this time around?
JENNA GRAY: I think the biggest thing that I remember about them was just having to scrap really, really hard on defense. They have so many different weapons. They run it really fast. They're just overall a really, really great team, and they made us work to earn our points offensively.

So we're looking forward to having a good defensive scrap, getting in there, digging some balls, hopefully getting our hands on some balls on the block, and then trying to attack them quickly, too.

Q. Jenna, Morgan, and Kathryn, for a sport that in college is played overwhelmingly by women, that hasn't necessarily translated into women head coaches, especially at the top of Division I. I'm just wondering, do you guys envision -- or what do you see as maybe the positives and negatives of a career in coaching, and have you given it any consideration?
JENNA GRAY: I know at least for myself I haven't thought much about coaching, but also because I want to continue playing, and I don't know how much my heart could handle. Watching volleyball is honestly a lot harder than playing it. So I haven't thought much about a coaching career for myself.

MORGAN HENTZ: I kind of feel the same way. I really haven't thought about coaching all that much, but in terms of seeing more females in the field of coaching, I think we would all definitely love to see that, but we're also very grateful for our coaching staff that we have because they always think of us as people before players.

KATHRYN PLUMMER: My experience, all four years we've been here, we've had Denise as an assistant head coach, and all of our assistants have been women. So we get to look up to those people who have been great volleyball players but also great coaches and great people.

And as for myself, I coach club volleyball, but that's a lot different. And Jenna said it's a lot harder to watch volleyball from the sidelines. But I think in my experience this year, since I got a little glimpse of that, I think I could see myself being a coach. I don't know.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. This senior class, if you could describe how much you love them in one word, perhaps muchos?
KEVIN HAMBLY: I love them a great deal. Muchos, muchos, muchos. But, however, I'm ready for them to go as well.

Q. Can you take us through the way you found out in the process through which Madeleine came to Stanford?
KEVIN HAMBLY: It's really simple. I got a text from her old club coach saying she got into school and that she was in the portal. And I didn't know what that meant. And so I talked to the club coaches and kind of clarified. And we gave it some time because she didn't want to talk to anybody.

And this was in February. And after her season, or March or something like that, the fact she got in, and we had a conversation. I got on the phone with her eventually a couple weeks later and she said she got into the statistics program and was interested in coming. I told her we don't have any money. She said that's okay, I want to try to pull it off.

So it was just kind of just that simple, and she came on a visit, and we talked a lot about what it would be like to integrate with this senior class and her being a senior here and missing on that and UCLA and how hard it would be to leave because they were getting better and all that, and she decided this is what she wanted to do.

But it was a very odd and different recruiting process, but it was really cool -- the conversations were very mature and very cool as far as just what she wanted to get out of her experience for the next step, not just from a volleyball standpoint. I think that was absolutely secondary for her. It was much more about what she wanted to get out of it academically and career-wise moving forward. Stanford is a pretty good place to kick start your career. Yeah, I've heard it, too.

Q. Wanted to see, prior to Kathryn getting injured, you went through a little bit of a rough stretch there losing three out of five. What was your mindset? My goodness, you lose the best player in the country, and your thoughts on how the team dealt with that?
KEVIN HAMBLY: Well, my mindset was we've got to sort it out, and we knew there would be an opportunity she would come back obviously. We wanted to make sure -- we were lucky we have quite a bit of talent in our gym. The next step was how to figure out how to use this talent as best as possible.

Certainly with Kathryn, we were kind of building around her, and so we had to go kind of back to the drawing board and change the way we play and change the way we design our defenses and offenses.

And I think the team handled it remarkably. They were very calm. The first match, after we found out she was out, was Oregon. We were at Oregon. They're a tough team to play because they run a very sophisticated offense. But the team was as they have been the entire time I've been here, very poised, very calm, and just got to the work of problem solving, starting over with the problem solving and figuring out how we want to play.

And we reinvented ourselves in a lot of ways. We were much more of a defensive transition team than we were an offensive team. And so I thought they handled it great. And the fact we went 9-1 was remarkable.

I think we're better because of it. I think Kathryn is better because of it. She was able to sit outside, and a lot of the stuff we were talking about, you need to attack the line more, do different things like that, all of a sudden she was back and was doing.

And I think it helped her with the team as far as, like she mentioned, just being a better leader. She was always kind of a quiet leader and lead by example, and she had to become more vocal because she still wanted to have that impact on the program and on the team.

And she did a great job of that during that time when she was off and she continued moving forward. So I think it was a blessing in disguise, if you will.

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