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December 19, 2019

Kevin Hambly

Kathryn Plummer

Morgan Hentz

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Stanford - 3, Minnesota - 0

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Stanford.

KEVIN HAMBLY: First, just congratulations to Minnesota on a great season. They're a great team. We saw them early and they definitely presented some unique challenges.

And it was a well-fought -- it was a tough match. We had to respond to some of their responses when they continued to push and fight, and I thought our team handled that very well and with poise, and we're excited to move on and have a chance to win another championship.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Yesterday you guys talked a lot about how much it would mean like you guys see the trophies. Stanford is a very storied program. Did you guys talk about that at all tonight, or is it just kind of this match tonight and then you'll have tomorrow's match or Saturday's match on Saturday?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: I think it's the latter. Yeah, we've had a lot of success. Yes, Stanford the program has had a lot of success, but we're focused on one game at a time because if we focus too far ahead or on all that success, then we get caught up in it and it makes it bigger than it is.

It's just another volleyball game. We talked a lot about that. Just focusing on the game instead of all the outside noise and all the history of our program and just play it game by game and point by point.

MORGAN HENTZ: I echo everything. If we look too far ahead, we get lost. Even taking it one point at a time, we're not looking too far ahead or in the past, we're just focused on the here and the now.

Q. Kathryn, can you talk about attacking out of the back row, you had a lot of success with that tonight including the match-winning point, what were you looking for? What were the ideal circumstances?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: When I'm in the back row, that means we have three hitters in the front row. So it's easy for me to have holes in the block because all three of our hitters are options and it makes the block on the other side, makes their life really difficult.

So there's usually a seam or space in the seams in the back court. So I just try to swing high and hard. Sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes it works out. Just no fear with that.

Q. Morgan, it seems like to me you get more and more dialed in as the match goes on. And I wonder, is that -- not that you're not dialed in at the beginning, but it just seems like the way you're able to lead things, you just get sharper and sharper with digs. Do you sort of feel that in a match? Are you feeling your way into it a little bit at the beginning and just get more and more, like I said, dialed in as it goes on?
MORGAN HENTZ: Yeah, sometimes at first you're just trying to figure out your hitters and your servers, and that takes some time, considering that Minnesota's a Big Ten team and we haven't seen them since the very beginning of the season and you face off with a lot of different style of teams plays.

So, yeah, I feel like it does take a little bit of time to get settled in and comfortable with the system that the other team is running.

Q. Could you guys talk a little bit about the defensive flow of the game? You guys had eight blocks in the first set and then seems like a lot of the focus shifted to you, Morgan, in the back row?
MORGAN HENTZ: I thought our blocks did a really good job at the beginning, getting low and over really fast, which gave our defense an opportunity to dig some balls in space. And at the beginning of the match, we weren't doing a great job of that, but as time went on, I think we were able to see the hitters and their arm swings a little bit better, and we were able to scrap with them more.

KATHRYN PLUMMER: I echo everything that Morgan just said. And also, like you mentioned, our defense gets more and more dialed in, and their offense against more dialed in throughout the match. They know what our defenders are doing and our blocks. So when the game goes on, our blocks -- their setter is trying to fool our block, and it's our defender's job to muscle in and dig some balls. And I think our team does a good job of that.

Q. In each set it seemed like Minnesota maybe came out right away and got a little bit of a lead. Did you guys make specific adjustments not only to overcome those leads but it seemed like, the middle part of each set, to pull ahead? Anything specific you did getting the adjustments or coach or athletes to not only come back and overcome Minnesota's lead but push ahead and get a cushion in each set?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: I'll go because I think I talk about it a lot or we talk a lot about this with our team, we try to start off slow, which isn't great. But I think that's just a testament to us figuring each other out, figuring the other team out because they're a new team and everyone is going to play their best against us and their best at this time of the year.

So I think that sometimes we've just got to get in our groove, find our rhythm. And once we find it, we want to expand the leads that we get. And that's a tough thing to do, especially in sets that it's do or die, like your season is over if you lose this set.

So we're just trying to push, push, push.

MORGAN HENTZ: Yeah, you're going to see teams doing some uncharacteristic things just because they know their season's on the line, they'll give everything they've got. We have to be patient and ready to respond to whatever they throw at us.

Q. You talked about the championships. How much does having been part of some of those and the experience of your team provide an advantage on a stage like this?
MORGAN HENTZ: I think it helps a little bit with our nerves. Like in the very first few points of the game, you might have a little bit of the jitters. But like come five, six, seven, eight, I think we're usually pretty settled in at that point in time.

KATHRYN PLUMMER: And I think that because we've been here four times, we can kind of hand down our experience to the players that haven't, like the freshmen and sophomores that haven't been here as much as we have we can give them the wisdom and some of the little tips and tricks that we've experienced, and I think that makes our lives a lot easier and our team's life a lot easier.

Q. Kathryn, I know you've had no time to think about Wisconsin. But they're a really big team, like you guys, they've got a lot of size. Can you just talk about what it's like going against a team like that against maybe a team that doesn't quite have the same size advantage that you guys have?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: I think that Wisconsin's a very balanced team. I think we're a balanced team. So I think it will be a good head-to-head match. Yeah, they're big and they're tall and they're strong. They're a Big Ten team. That's usually what you see.

But I think that we can have opportunities to score with our speed and with our serves, we'll get them off the net. And I think when they get off the net, then we'll have some success. So I think that will be one of our game plans.

Q. Morgan, when Kathryn is swinging like she was tonight, can you see that taking a mental or physical toll on your opponent?
MORGAN HENTZ: Yeah, definitely a little bit. You start to see them get on their heels, and they're ready for the heat, and then she throws in a tip. And it's kind of a killer. So they don't know what their (indiscernible) Plummer at times, and I think that's really lethal.

Q. Kathryn, did you realize you almost took No. 10's head off on that line dig that she was digging your line, you brought the noise and pretty much knocked her over?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: I mean, that wasn't my intention. I was just swinging at the ball hard. I knew that their setter was a shorter block than their middles. And I had some space on the line so I took it.

MORGAN HENTZ: Also props to her for sticking in there.

KATHRYN PLUMMER: She took it. It went up. They had an opportunity to play it, so...

Q. Kerri is in the house tonight. I don't know if she's on the last team that went back-to-back national championships with Stanford. I don't know if she chatted with you about anything or talked to you guys at all. Curious, did you have any interaction with her?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: I've not seen her. I don't think our team has seen her. We've kind of been in our own little bubble focusing on Minnesota. We'll see her tomorrow at the banquet, and she has some family ties to our team. So she might be around.

But, yeah, it's awesome to be able to look up to someone like her and try to do what she's done.

Q. Kathryn, 50 kills for the last six sets, which seems like a lot even for you. Do you feel like you found another gear this late in the postseason, or what has it been?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: Knock on wood everywhere. I don't think I've necessarily found another gear. Everyone just brings their best at this time because, like I said, it's do or die. Our team scouts other people. We have a game plan and we know that we kind of to go full blow on it. And we're in really good opportunities for me to score, and it makes my job a lot easier.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Meghan McClure, she seems to be such a clutch player and just a pure volleyball player who makes so many plays. So many of the other players get a lot of the headlines, but Meghan is steady for you the whole time.
KEVIN HAMBLY: I think she passed over 2-4 and made zero hitting errors and she did a really nice job. She had a tough matchup there in the last two sets against Samedy, and she got her hands in front of it.

She's an excellent volleyball player. I wasn't able to keep her off the floor. We tried to get Kendall Kipp out there, and Meghan is too good of a volleyball player not to have her out there. She's not afraid of the big moment or the big swing, and she knows who she is.

And it's just a really fun kid to coach and to see the little engine that could. She's not that small, but with our team and the size that we put out there, she looks a lot smaller than she is.

But she's a fantastic volleyball player and an incredible competitor.

Q. Your defense limited them to hitting 164, I think, around that, if I had it right. And you have one of the best offensive players in college volleyball with Kathryn, and then a couple other weapons around her. How crazy is it to be a coach limiting a team like Minnesota to 164 while having the ability on offense too?
KEVIN HAMBLY: You have to earn it on defense. You have to work for it. The first time around we played Minnesota, I think they hit three. I think the numbers were switched. They hit a really high number. When Kathryn was out -- we talked about it a little bit yesterday. When Kathryn was out, we had to redefine ourselves as more of a defensive transition team to win matches, which they did an excellent job of.

We really committed to being better on defense. I think we've carried that over once we got Kathryn back, which has been huge. I think it was a little bit of a blessing in disguise. We're committed to that.

And I had a kid sitting next to me here, Morgan, who's pretty special. Took her a while to figure out Hart, but Hart was hitting .450, I think, in the 2-2 sets, or close to that, and she was the one that ended up digging her a few times. We definitely didn't block her, but Morgan took care of that and cleaned up so much stuff for her.

But I would say, in general, all of them were really committed to playing great defense.

Q. Did Audri change her hitting strategy a little bit? Seemed like they were digging at her cross court, and then she had some success going line later in the match. Is that something you discussed with her at all?
KEVIN HAMBLY: Yeah, we were trying to find ways to score how are they defending you, and they were a little bit -- they had a good -- they were into her tendencies a little bit, and so she had to adjust. It took her a little while. There's some nerves in some of these matches, so I think it took her a while to adjust and figure that out.

I think when she was getting dug, she got a little tentative, and then she got more aggressive and you saw her go for it and kind of swing high and hard in this space. It was good to see her get going.

We'll need her tomorrow. No doubt. We need to get going offensively.

Q. This is the second year that you guys have swept the team in the semifinals. What does it say about the teams you guys have that you were able to perform so consistently at this level of play?
KEVIN HAMBLY: Let's hope that continues. I think we played at a high level. I think us being here before, especially in the first set, it helped kind of set a tone in that first set. We had eight and a half blocks, which I think that was a lot about nerves for Minnesota. And that gave us a little bit of an advantage. I don't know for a fact, but it just seemed that way. I think that experience helped.

But they're pretty competitive. And these guys know how to win matches. If you would have told me we would have won 3-0, I would have said there's no way. It didn't feel like a 3-0 match, to be honest. It didn't feel like we swept them. We had to put up 65 points in three sets -- that's a lot -- to beat them. And it felt like we had to earn every single one of those.

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