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December 21, 2013

Lauren Carlini

Annemarie Hickey

Deme Morales

Kelly Sheffield



THE MODERATOR:  All right.  We'll start with an opening statement from Coach.
COACH SHEFFIELD:  It's always hard to‑‑ when you end your season on a loss, I mean, I think everybody out there saw a team that just wasn't happy to be playing in this match.  You know, there was a lot of emotions in the locker room.
This team, they expected to win.  They played to win.  They expected to win.  I know probably not a whole lot of people thought that we had a chance to do that.  But our players did.
And we fell behind 0‑2.  And you know they showed a lot of heart.  Showed a lot of heart to come back.  Penn State's a great team.  They've been here a lot.  I didn't get the feeling that experience played a part in it.
We weren't able to close out game 2.  We came right back out in Game 3.  Played really well.  I think middle of Game 4, about two‑thirds of the way through Game 4, Annemarie's shoulder pops out.  That's the reason why that serve couldn't make it to the net.
But she is still back there making incredible digs back there.  Wouldn't let me take her out of the game.  This team just showed a lot of heart.  That's tough.  Penn State's got, you know, the biggest weapon in college volleyball.  Micha Hancock's serve.
And we battle like crazy to keep it off the floor.  But she hasn't really gone off on us too much this year.  And tonight they got some points in that rotation, and that's what she can do.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Lauren Carlini, Deme Morales, or Annemarie Hickey.

Q.  Annemarie, would you tell us, please, more, about the shoulder, what happened?
ANNEMARIE HICKEY:  I made a good dig and I overpassed it.  And Ariel Scott hit it over Courtney and I tried to get over there and just landed on it wrong.  I was trying not to let it affect me the rest of the game.
And that's kind of just what happened and try not to think about it as much.  My adrenalin was trying to go as much as it could, and I was trying to do everything I could for my team.

Q.  Have you had this happen before and you knew it was popped out; the follow‑up to that is how did it feel?
ANNEMARIE HICKEY:  It hurt pretty bad.  I could feel it come out of my shoulder, and it was painful but we were playing in such a high intensity and we were winning the game and all I wanted to do was win for my teammates.  I didn't want to come out.  I didn't want to let them down.  So I just worked through it as best as I could.

Q.  Which set was that?
ANNEMARIE HICKEY:  Fourth set.  I don't remember.  My head's just going crazy right now.  But it was in the fourth set towards the middle or the end.

Q.  Did you feel like you were controlling Penn State's attack there and it was really the serves at the end for Micha that made the difference?  Seemed like you were frustrating them, getting a lot of touches, getting some blocks, doing everything you needed to do to push that to Game 5, and then it just hung on her serve there.
LAUREN CARLINI:  I think towards the game of ‑‑  end 3 and Game 4 we started controlling their attacks a lot more than we were the first two games and we started slowing it down so we could control it.
But Micha's serve at the end and we had maybe a four‑point lead and she just caught on fire and we couldn't control her.
DEME MORALES:  I just don't think that we could convert off of Micha's serves.  They were just a couple of sporadic plays and we couldn't control them.
ANNEMARIE HICKEY:  I agree.  She's the best ever in the nation we're going up against.  And I think we did a really good job as passers handling that.  And she went on a couple of points at the end, but I can't be more proud of my passers and myself of how we did.  Just battling out there, giving everything we could.

Q.  Which shoulder was it?
ANNEMARIE HICKEY:  Right shoulder.

Q.  Not trying to thinking about it, but is that settling in a bit right now?
ANNEMARIE HICKEY:  Yeah, a little bit.  I'm more upset that we lost to them, the pain in my shoulder.
But it is what it is.  And I'm really excited to see where this team is going to go next year.

Q.  (Indiscernible) it's going to stick with you longer than winning the serve points.  Can you go back a little bit and talk about being able to (indiscernible)?
ANNEMARIE HICKEY:  We just wanted to come out and we wanted to win this match, period, end of story.  But coming out in Game 3 we knew we had to start off early in attack or else they were going to take a lead and stick with it.  So we just had to attack instead of them attacking us and us trying to fight back.
So I think we did really good and we controlled Game 3 and the beginning of Game 4.

Q.  Annemarie, this game notwithstanding, if you think back where you were mid‑October last year, and now that you're leaving, can you just try to summarize what that's been like?  You've got to be pretty excited about the way it ended?
ANNEMARIE HICKEY:  Yeah, for sure.  Anyone being a senior, coming off a loss at the end of their season would be upset.  But I'm also really happy for myself and for my teammates and how long we came and really having confidence in ourselves when no one else was believing in us.  We always believed we were going to win and take it all the way.
And it's been an incredible journey for me, and, like I said before, I'm really excited for the rest of these girls for their next year and to prove to, keep proving people wrong and just keep battling.

Q.  Lauren, so much of your offense went to the right side, either attacks down the line or this incredible number of slides.  I do note, somebody correct me if I'm wrong, I don't think that the media voted Dominique Thompson as one of the All‑Conference; is that right, is she not one of the All, Dominique?  Would you talk about Dominique with 16 kills was somehow overlooked?
LAUREN CARLINI:  She's probably one of the most underrated middles in the country.  People look at her height more than anything and think oh she can't be good.  More times she's the go‑to option.  And she lit it up tonight and made them pay.
I couldn't be more proud of Dom.  She's been such a warrior all season and she's fought through the odds of being a shorter middle, and she's just been bossing it up there lately.

Q.  Follow‑up to that, Annemarie, when you're up there serving, you've got those two shorter players up there.  And yet, Coach, I think it might have been most points off serve when you were in that situation.  So what is it?  Did you plan to go to the right side, Lauren, when you were doing the game plan?  Did you see something in Penn State that you thought and that actually did work that you got so many kills on your side?
LAUREN CARLINI:  You know, starting off they left Dom one‑on‑one on the slide.  And we saw that.  So we kind of‑‑ I just kept feeding her until she got stopped.
And then even then we just kept running it.  Eventually they started doubling up on her a little bit.  And she kept battling through it.  So, yeah, we definitely saw it on film.  And that was one part of our game, is just keep attacking the right side of the court and keep getting the ball to Dom because she was the hitter.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Questions for Coach.

Q.  Kelly, did you make adjustments after the first two sets and specifically on maybe Slay?
COACH SHEFFIELD:  Yeah, I mean, there was quite a few.  I thought early on in the match we weren't serving tough enough and we weren't‑‑ defensively we weren't getting into the seams in the back court.  Those were two things we talked about that we needed to do a little bit better.  We needed to put more pressure on them serving.
We needed to hit those seams a little bit harder.  We made a few adjustments.  Slay, it's the tallest middle up against the shortest middle.  What are you going to do?  She's going to get hers at times.
And we were making adjustments on her.  We were making adjustments on Scott.  We felt like we had a pretty good handle on their outsides.  I'm here looking at the four outsides.  I mean who would have thought Deme Morales would be the highest hitting percentage out of the four.
So we just thought defensively we were getting tougher and tougher as the match was going on.  And so there was a little bit of adjustments but more of it was just‑‑ I don't know‑‑ I wanted them to continue to stay in the fight.  So that was more of the talk than the adjustment.  I thought our game plan coming in was pretty good.
We were just back on our heels early on.  So those first three games our kids were getting more confident.  They were a little ticked off that they let Game 2 get away.  But they felt like they were getting a handle on what they were doing and their hitting percentage kept dropping through those first three games.
And you could tell our kids were getting more and more confident.  They believed that we were going to go to Game 5.  Even in the locker room, I'm in there and that team was locked in.  I mean, their eyes, they were just locked in.  They didn't need a pep talk.  It's all right, this is what we're going to do let's go out there and execute it.

Q.  You had two big missed serves at the end of Game 2.  Was that a pretty big difference do you think?  And you get rid of those and win you that game (indiscernible)?
COACH SHEFFIELD:  You can sit there on one hand and say you get those you win.  On the other hand, you look at Penn State and they do a pretty good job executing their offense when the game's on the line.
On the other hand, our team is‑‑ our tough serving got us back into it.  I thought we got a little bit anxious there.  What are you going to do?  You can't sit there and celebrate when a ball hits the top of the net and just rolls over for the ace and then jump on them when that ball hits the top and it falls on your side.
It tells all sometimes.  Were those critical misses, absolutely.  But I think it didn't let the air out of us.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about that Micha's serve was huge.  But really more than the ace necessarily at the end is how far she put the setter off the net with the passes, those last seems like three points.  Is that‑‑ screws up your offense as much with just putting‑‑
COACH SHEFFIELD:  There was no offense.  There was no offense at all when she was serving.  Dom is hitting over .300.  You've got Court up there and every ball had to go to Deme.  They were putting every serve on her, and we're just trying like crazy to hang in there and go.  Yeah, there was no offense.  That's what our serve does.  I mean, you're sitting there‑‑ you're not trying to pass 3s.  Because nobody does.
And she's one of the elite, few elite servers that a timeout doesn't faze her either.  Lord knows we've been trying to save them for that.  But she comes right back out and rips it.
So the amount of pressure she was putting on our team, and Deme in particular, executing, best serve in the game on her and now we're having to go to her against, I don't know, Katie Slay and Ariel Scott.  That's a tough deal.
I don't know, yeah.

Q.  Do you consider it a successful pass inside the ten‑foot line off her serve?
COACH SHEFFIELD:  Consider a successful pass anything up in the air inside the court.

Q.  Good news, of course, is that you made it here.  The bad news is you lose one senior, got everybody back, and I'm sure you have a few recruits.  It's a "what have you done for me lately" world.  Now you've got to come back?
COACH SHEFFIELD:  We'll worry about that later.  There's not pressure on that.  I know that match hurts a lot.  I know that will motivate them to get a little bit better.  Yeah, you're excited that you're not having to walk in there and say goodbye to everybody.  They came back out there on the court.  They wanted to show their respects to a great team, a great Big Ten team.
I think the other thing is that you sit there and that stirs you inside your innerds while you watch somebody else celebrate.  Down the road that could probably be a good thing as well.

Q.  Lauren talked about the success you had on the right side, both the slides and setting that way.  Penn State was having success there.  Especially that was part of that, the runs with Hancock when they got the ball back, Scott was doing the attack, probably because Deme is, what, however many inches shorter.  But you guys seemed to completely shut down Deja.  Not completely, but, goodness, she barely got on track.  Why wasn't that the case?  Why didn't you end up like Washington did, which was sort of road kill when both of them were attacking?  What did you do with Deja?
COACH SHEFFIELD:  I think the two lowest‑‑ they hit .206, and I think the two lowest hitting percentages of the year were our first two matches.  And I think Thursday night I think Texas's lowest hitting percentage of the year was against us.
That's what we do.  I mean, we defend like crazy.  And it doesn't always look pretty, but we'll throw our bodies around with the best of them.

Q.  With Hancock's serve, just from a mechanic standpoint, does it make any tougher she's a lefty in terms of spin and trying to do something with it, or does that not matter one way or the other?
COACH SHEFFIELD:  I coached a kid from early on from Albany, the all‑time ace leader, NCAA season and career, and she had a lefty side spin just like I've been on that side of it before.
But what it does it, it's going and tailing.  And a lot of times that person in that lane wants to go out and hit because it looks like it's going to the other side of the court.  So really you've got to stay in there.
The thing that makes Micha so good is that she can go over the top and ride down the line.  So you can't cheat on her.  You can't cheat.  It is coming in with so much spin.  It's coming with so much pace, and she can hit it anywhere on the court.  It doesn't matter.
What year is she, a junior?  Jesus.

Q.  Seemed like she hit everything in zone 5, then at the end on the ace she hit it in the middle.  Was it your recollection everything was going cross‑court corner to corner, and she mixed it up a little bit in that fourth game?
COACH SHEFFIELD:  Trying to put an unbelievable amount of pressure on our outside hitter, and Deme was, I mean she was manning up.  She's getting in there and getting it up and ball's coming out to her, and she's trying like the Dickens to find a sideout.
No, she was doing that last time we played.  We had a different matchup, and she's just going right down the line and tattooing the line down the line.  She's incredible.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

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