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December 19, 2019

Kelly Sheffield

Sydney Hilley

Dana Rettke

Molly Haggerty

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Wisconsin - 3, Baylor - 1

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Wisconsin coach Kelly Sheffield and student-athletes Molly Haggerty, Sydney Hilley and Dana Rettke.

KELLY SHEFFIELD: It was a whale of a volleyball match right there, to be able to be a part of that and to watch two teams and a lot of players just going at it. There's a lot of toughness on the court.

The season Baylor's had, I've got so much respect for him and his staff and all those guys, what they've done. What Ryan has done with that program and that team and the talent that is there and the talent that they still have coming back, it's unbelievable.

They put a lot of pressure on you, and it starts with behind the service line. And I thought our fight on our side of the net, starting with our back court, was fantastic. I thought our back court defense was special. I thought our blockers got some really good touches.

To hold that time to under 200, to hold an elite player like Pressley under .200 was just -- it was a great defensive effort. And to lose a close first one, you know, to have our team just continue to believe and fight and stay together and stay aggressive, we're excited to still be playing.

Q. After that first set, close one back and forth and you lose, what was the mindset? What was the talk between yourselves as you headed back out for the rest of the match?
SYDNEY HILLEY: We expected every set to be like that, and two points away, we were right there. We knew we didn't play very well the first 12 or so points. We knew we could play a lot better.

We didn't panic and we knew there was a lot of volleyball left, and we knew the match wouldn't be decided by one set. I thought we did a good job staying positive and staying aggressive after that.

Q. You guys lost to Penn State, it's been a while since you faced adversity, and first coming out, had an ace, kind of a shanker, and you guys sort of -- you laughed about it, and I loved that response. What allowed you guys to stay so positive like that on such a big stage and not get flustered losing the first set and dropping like that?
SYDNEY HILLEY: I think the biggest thing was we went out there, and we're trying to have so much fun. And you'll sit back and review what you're doing, and you get to play the game with the people you love.

And this great atmosphere, like every moment is fun no matter whether you're losing a point or winning a point. We did a good job staying loose and having fun. We're at our best when we're having fun. I think we did a good job of that.

Q. Dana, talk about the serving, particularly in Game 4, you had some great runs, particularly when they were putting some pressure on you. Seemed like that zone one serve you took them out of their passing game quite a bit and that led to good opportunities for points.
DANA RETTKE: Yeah, serving-wise, my mentality is to go back put in a good ball, every single ball. And I felt like I was kind of getting into a rhythm today with my serving.

Yeah, I think it was just (indiscernible) I know I can. Just good ball after good ball is all I was looking for there.

STUDENT-ATHLETE: She doesn't pass on her own serves but (indiscernible) I hope I don't sound stupid.


Q. You talked about on Wednesday the challenge about blocking Pressley. There was a point in the fourth you blocked two in a row, returned two in a row. What was working that you were able to build some momentum with that as well?
DANA RETTKE: Yeah, we got a big block. When we're in good positions, low and over, I think great things can happen. And, yeah, she gets up there and she cranks. So definitely a great attacker, and, yeah, I think our blocking was good.

Q. Molly, you're one match away from what you started out this season going for. Has it hit you yet?
MOLLY HAGGERTY: I think it will hit me after tomorrow. We've all dreamed about being in these moments, and I think we're just really excited to be here and, like we always talk about, live in the moment, be where our feet are. I think we did a great job of that tonight for sure.

Q. Sydney, you mentioned that first set wasn't the smoothest for you guys, and Grace and Madison had a little bit of trouble putting balls over, but you kept coming back to them and coming back to them. Looked like it paid off down the stretch as they found (indiscernible) Dana and Molly were pretty much automatic all night. How good is it for you as a setter for the hitters to know, hey, I'll come back to you even if you have a little trouble at first?
SYDNEY HILLEY: It's huge. They all know I have so much trust in them no matter what's going on. If Grace makes an error, I'm like, okay, I'm going back to you right now, you better get ready for it, like stop thinking about the last one kind of thing.

But, yeah, I never lose that in my hitters, and it's just really a special thing to be able to set any one, and any single one of my hitters can take over a match any night, which is really, really cool. But that's credit to my passers for me to be able to distribute the ball to whoever I want to, and I'm really proud of the way they played tonight.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. You held Pressley under her average against you, and you blocked her well. What was your strategy? How did it work? How having faced her a couple times over the past two years help inform you on how that and try and deal with her?
KELLY SHEFFIELD: I thought we were disciplined. We weren't trying to do so much. I think when we've gone back and we watch how we defended her in the past, I thought it looked like a very undisciplined, poor-coached team.

We were, I don't know, almost frantic a little bit. She can do that. When she's up there, she elevates at a different atmosphere than most other kids. And so I saw the defense that trusted that everybody else was going to do their job. They weren't trying to overplay some things.

I'd say it's probably that. I don't think it was a game plan type of deal. Certainly we had a game plan of how we were going to defend. But I think beyond that is just playing within yourself. And I thought our players did a really good job with that.

Q. Did you notice anything in the previous match that might have helped you tonight?
KELLY SHEFFIELD: There was a lot. You know, I thought we were predictable offensively. Syd was talking about -- the question earlier was still going to Madison and Grace even though their hitting percentages were pretty low.

And early on that wasn't happening. It would be like somebody has kind of a tough start and maybe we forget about them and we go to the high hitters. Well, a team like Baylor, they're going to lock down on those players.

And the other players are going to lose their confidence. And I thought Grace and Madison, their numbers offensively weren't great, but, man, they had some huge plays there at the end of the match. And that's all because trust, Syd had trust in her hitters. I thought that was one thing.

The other thing was just trying to be better disciplined defensively. I thought we served great. Put a lot of pressure. I thought both teams were putting in some really gnarly and nasty serves. And we got aced a couple times, but not as many times as what some of those serves would make you think.

Q. If you could, give me some thoughts on Dana, she really took charge during the match.
KELLY SHEFFIELD: Those are pretty nice numbers for a middle, .484, 19 kills, eight blocks. And then got three aces, got some service. That's a pretty nice night.

She was aggressive. And I thought everybody was behind the service line. You look at some of these serving numbers, and everybody seemed to have a run tonight. It wasn't just one or two servers. I thought we were putting pressure on them for six rotations.

And that tells me we've got a team that's in a pretty good place, when you can go back here and be aggressive. I saw very, very little just playing it safe with their serves or anything. I thought we were driving a lot.

Our drop serves were kind of struggling a little bit. Wasn't really doing much early on in the match. We kind of got rid of the drop serve and started driving a little bit, and that set her off the net. She wasn't able to attack quite as much as she wanted to or go to the middle quite as much as they would have liked to.

So our serving kind of made our defense -- it certainly helped our defense.

Q. One of the things you guys did so well is pick up so much of the ricochets off maybe a first ball dig that was not easy to play, and then you guys would play it off the second ball and make something happen. Did you work on that a lot in training, on defending the big hits like that?
KELLY SHEFFIELD: I don't know, it was just Badger ball. I thought early on -- I think you get in these moments, and one of the things as a coach that you're concerned a little bit with is hesitation points. You get in these, and it's a different environment. You're playing for more, and so you start overthinking and you start doing a little bit of that.

And that happened to us a few times in the first set. I thought we got rid of that and maybe that was as we were getting a little bit more comfortable, you know, environment in this situation that we got rid of those hesitations. We were just pursuing them.

And you could see, we're pursuing and not giving up on balls. That certainly makes a difference. And we were flying around all over the place up there. Just loved our -- a few of those were just free balls ended in a block, and sometimes they ended up getting a kill, and a couple times we were fighting to get the ball up in the air, and our outsides are getting their feet to the ball and taking big swings. Our scramble plays were certainly fun to watch.

Q. You mentioned you know how much trust you have in this team and how much trust this team has with each other. And as this team has gone on, how easy has it been for you as a coach to trust in a team that has a setter like Sydney Hilley and a middle like Dana and an outside like Molly, all of whom are pretty much automatic throughout the night?
KELLY SHEFFIELD: 2013, we were going to Final Four in Seattle, and I talked to the late Mike Hebert going into that, best advice I've ever gotten probably my entire coaching career. And he said, "You've gotten this far. Trust your team. Trust your team. Trust your players. Don't overthink things."

I don't know if that answers your question, but I wanted to make sure that -- that was such amazing coaching advice. And sometimes we can overcoach in these situations. You prepare, and sometimes players can overthink things.

And that was a constant message that we were saying just about every single time out, no matter who called it, this is great. This is awesome. Trust. That was something -- Syd kept was coming over: What do you think? Trust your hitter. We'll let you know something we're seeing here. Just keep trusting everybody.

The trust happens over time when it's earned. And I think it doesn't matter if you have a bad swing or a bad pass or a bad serve, over time these guys have earned each other's trust. I don't know if that answers your question, but there you have it.

Q. I noticed you hugged Gia afterward. I don't know if that was from the Big Ten days or if you knew Gia Milana when she was at Maryland, maybe some words of encouragement for her?
KELLY SHEFFIELD: I knew her from when she chose Maryland over Wisconsin. I remember sitting at lunch with her and her mom out by Lake Mendota when she was younger. And a great kid. Yeah, we coached against her at Maryland and the past couple of years here. Really liked the kid. Her career is over, and I want to congratulate her on an unbelievable career.

You get to these situations and sometimes the loss is really, really tough. I admired how she goes about things. I think she's a great kid. Just wanted to congratulate her on a fantastic career.


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