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December 21, 2019
Stanford - 3, Wisconsin - 0
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Stanford Coach Hambly and student-athletes Kathryn Plummer, Jenna Gray, and Morgan Hentz.
KEVIN HAMBLY: First, just congratulations to Wisconsin. They had a great year. They're a great team. I don't think tonight was an indication what the team was like. We had a good game plan, and we executed at a really high level tonight. And we know and respect Wisconsin and how good they are.
Also, just thank you to Pittsburgh and the people that work here in Duquesne. They did an amazing job during this event and felt like home. We were here for a week, and it felt like home. We really appreciate and respect the way that they treated us. So thank you again.
And I think the overwhelming feeling I have right now is I'm kind of sad that this time with these great young women to my right and the rest of the seniors is over. I'm certainly glad that we can go out the way that we did.
For them, it's amazing. And they played amazing, all three of them, and all the seniors played great tonight, as well as the rest of the team. Going to miss them as people.
Certainly great volleyball players, but I'm going to miss them as people more. I'll miss them as volleyball players as well, but I'm going to miss them as people, and I'm excited they can go out the right way.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Jenna, in August you told me basically the only goal you had for this season was to do this. So what does it feel like after the whole year having a singular goal to be able to achieve it?
JENNA GRAY: Obviously it feels incredible. I feel it's a whirlwind of emotions. We took a different path than I was expecting. The season didn't go really how I expected it to go at all, but I think the ending is all that matters. So perfect ending for us.
Q. Kathryn, athletes certainly get in the zone, but for these two matches, is that about as good as you've been and felt in your career?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: I think so. I was just put in really good opportunities. Our defense was unreal. Jenna is an amazing setter. We won them off the net, so it made my job a lot easier. I think we did it in the whole tournament, and then in the whole Pac-12, too.
But I wanted to go out strong, last time playing with these amazing teammates of mine, and kind of just wanted to do it for them.
Q. Jenna, this was the easiest, if you will, of your guys' finals. It's sweet. Can you sort of compare. Obviously at five setter, four setter with Texas, back in 2016. Kevin was talking about execution, was that the key tonight why this one looked so dominant?
JENNA GRAY: Yeah, I think that this year especially, it felt different. And it felt very experienced. And I think we -- from the very beginning until the very end, were just so composed. And I think that was the biggest reason why we got the sweep tonight. So lots of experience, lots of composure. I think everyone held it together so well.
Q. Morgan, you put some perspective on you being here the whole time, and then inheriting Madeleine and the job she did, and then for her to get the match-winning kill, there's something, I don't know, volleyball godlike about that, right?
MORGAN HENTZ: Gates has been amazing this entire year. I don't think we would be here without her. So we're really happy that she joined us this season. And we love her as a teammate, but we love her even more as a person. Yeah, that's great. Awesome when the middle puts the ball away for the national championship game winning point.
Q. Morgan and Kathryn, could you talk a little bit about the ups and downs of passing and you had a rough patch there. When do you decide that you're just going to cut in front of her and take the ball? Is that just a gut feeling you have, or is that something you discuss?
MORGAN HENTZ: Mad's lot of weight on her offensively, and when they go after her, I feel it's nice to give her a break and give her a chance to take a breath, swing as hard as she can, as she always does.
So if they're targeting players, we might shift things around just to give people a break. We have a lot of confidence in each other as passers. We come in, hold hands before every single time we pass, try to look each other in the eyes, be like: Hey, we got this. So just giving each other breaks and instilling confidence in one another.
KATHRYN PLUMMER: Yeah, anytime Morgan can pass a ball and I don't have to touch it, it's good for me.
But in all seriousness, Morgan's the best passer in the country, and she takes up a lot of space. And she makes the rest of our jobs a lot easier, even though sometimes it doesn't look like that.
But she's an amazing volleyball player and a person, and the things she does, I've never seen anyone do it before. And she makes -- like I said, she makes our jobs a lot easier.
Q. Morgan or Jenna, are there times maybe during the match, maybe you look at the stat sheet, maybe you watch a highlight, when you are just sort of like amazed at what Kathryn is able to do at times, and what's the feeling like when you see those moments or get when that happens?
JENNA GRAY: I've said it so many times throughout the tournament, throughout our four years, to this day, I wish everybody was -- you could capture it, but my jaw will drop. And there was a couple times where I couldn't even celebrate because I was so caught off guard and I was just like, She really just did that. All right. Cool.
So absolutely. She continues to grow and become a better player and surprise us with how much better she can get. You think she's (indiscernible) and she just proves you wrong.
MORGAN HENTZ: I echo everything that Jenna just said. Mid-match, she goes up, takes a swing as hard as she can, buries it, next ball she jams it in the middle of the court. It's really hard to defend her. She's the most lethal attacker in the NCAA. And arguably any attacker out there.
So we're lucky to have her on our side.
Q. Jenna, do you have any sense of the history of what you guys have done over the course of your career, and can you just talk about that?
JENNA GRAY: I know it's been talked about a lot. But I think we tried to not focus on that. We talk a lot about taking it one point at a time, one set at a time, one match at a time. And we just focus on each other.
And I think it's a lot easier when you do that and you make it just about -- we said -- we're like, It's just a game of volleyball, and it's who can play one match of volleyball really, really well, and I think we did that tonight.
So it's nice now, I think, since we're done, to go back and look at that, but we haven't thought a whole lot about that. We're just kind of playing with our friends.
Q. The question of four years (indiscernible) --
JENNA GRAY: I can't say so. We just love volleyball. Over the four years, we were enjoying our time out there and wanting to win.
Q. Does this title mean more to you than the other ones?
KATHRYN PLUMMER: It's hard to answer that because we've had so many memories, but I think this is kind of the cherry on top. We set out for this to be our goal this season.
Just like every other season, but to be able to do it like our last time on the court, to finish in this way and to be able to play with our best friends for one more time, I think this one's a little bit sweeter because it's our last time together, and we're not going to be able to have this feeling again.
JENNA GRAY: I feel like I'd say what my mom always says about us when I ask who the favorite child is, and she was like, I don't have favorites, but I do like a certain one more at different times.
So I'd say right now I like this one a lot. But in all seriousness, I think every single national championship has been such a different route, such a different story. So it's hard to really compare them.
MORGAN HENTZ: Yeah, I agree with what both of them said. I think this is a really great way for us to go out, and to go out with this group of people who happen to be some of our best friends.
I'm really sad that it's over, actually. I came in, like: It's over.
It's nice to go out on top, though.
Q. Jenna, could you talk a little bit about your decision to not dunk this game. You had only two attempts?
JENNA GRAY: I've been saying since, like the beginning of freshman year, probably when we were in a 6-2, I'm going to dump on national championship match point. I was making bets, will you do this if I dump it.
But I think it just came down to I trust my hitters so much and they've put in so much work for me that it's not really fair for me to take that. I think they deserved it so much. And they made my job so much easier. So I think they deserve to be the one to put it away and I trusted them so much.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach.
Q. I'm going to assume that you have more of a sense of the history of all this than they did. But you were looking from afar the first time they won and then to be here for this, but you know what it takes to win just one and three out of four as a class. Can you just try to quantify that?
KEVIN HAMBLY: It's really difficult to win. It's really difficult to win a match in the Pac-12. It's really difficult to win a match in the Big Ten. It's really difficult to win Final Four and Sweet 16 matches. For them to be able to do that and win three championships, I don't know what their record is but it's something and one through our time.
It's really special. But I think their legacy and all that stuff, the questions you guys are asking it's for you guys to decide. If you want to talk about legacy, that's not really my job. It's not something I'm really interested in.
I personal want to think of this group not as their accomplishments as volleyball players but much more as who they are as people and what they brought every single day and how much I care and love them and how much they loved and cared for each other.
That stuff is for -- I don't know, it's for you guys as the press. For us, we just enjoy being around each other. It's a good legacy.
JENNA GRAY: Jenna Gray, setter, Stanford volleyball. Not a question. But just wanted to apologize for all of the times I made fun of you over the years and just say thank you for an incredible time. So thank you very much.
KEVIN HAMBLY: Thanks, Jenna. We have the banquet, but I can get back to you.
JENNA GRAY: I'm a little nervous. This is also a little bit of an olive branch so you don't get back at me in the future.
KEVIN HAMBLY: I love you, Jenna. Thanks. Get out of here.
I'll miss that kid a lot.
Q. Coach, you held Wisconsin to .153 or something, which was their worst performance of the season. What was the defensive game plan going in?
KEVIN HAMBLY: That's a lot. That question is a lot. There's a lot to that. We had our plan as far as who we needed to defend and how we needed to defend everyone. And it was pretty specific to each player.
If I had to give you a general one, make it about the outsides and serve aggressive, try to get them off the net, see if we could slow down their outsides.
We did a good job on one of them, nice job on Loberg. But Molly tore us up. So those rotations, we had a hard time scoring points, hard-ish time scoring points.
But I think in general we tried to make sure that they couldn't get as many balls to Rocky. She only had 19 swings. And she typically leads them in attempts. I think we did a good job of that. That was one of the main reasons. And we transitioned really well off those defensive plays and turned those into some great swings and balls that you don't typically get great swings on.
I think you saw us running all over the court on some shanks and creating swings and taking big cuts. And I thought that was very deflating for Wisconsin, when they make a big swing, we make a scramble play, and all of a sudden a creative swing out of nowhere (indiscernible) got two in a row, and Plummer goes up and buries it or Meghan goes up and buries it, that's tough to deal with when you have people attacking from all over the place.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports