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December 21, 2013

Dominique Gonzalez

Micha Hancock

Russ Rose

Ariel Scott



THE MODERATOR:  We'll start with Coach Rose.
COACH ROSE:  I thought it was a great match and all three times that we played Wisconsin this year was a battle.  They play great defense.  They play really hard.  They're passionate kids, and I want to applaud the University of Wisconsin, their staff, as well as Washington.
And the teams that make the tournament, it's hard to make the tournament.  It's hard to advance through the tournament.  So when you start looking at the teams that get here and how hard they play and what you have to do to advance, it's a real challenge.
Texas is the defending national champion and they ran into a really hot team.  We knew that was the case.  We also knew we could be 1‑1 at the intermission.  So we feel very fortunate.  It was a grind‑out match which we knew we'd have to do because of how well Wisconsin plays.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions.

Q.  Micha, looked like it was going on fire, then you went back to serve.  Talk to us about how that felt to rip those serves to win the match?
MICHA HANCOCK:  You know, I didn't want to go to 5.  I don't think anyone did.  They're a scrappy team.  They played well.  We weren't doing things we normally do.
Like you said, we grind it out.  And I went back there and said this is it, this is a good situation and we should just play like we've been playing all season.
I tried to stay calm and poised even though things weren't going our way and try to play defense off of serve.

Q.  Micha, you ran a whole lot of your offense on the right side.  Actually so did they.  Was that the game plan?  Is it simply because you had this height advantage over there when Ariel was looking across?  You're nodding.
MICHA HANCOCK:  We planned to go over Morales, because she's shorter.  Not discrediting her, because she's a great player.  But we've got the hammer over there.  I wanted to feed her and just get some separation from my middles.  And it worked out.

Q.  Ariel, how do you feel?
ARIEL SCOTT:  Amazing.  Period.  I couldn't be happier.  There was no better way to end my collegiate career.  So I'm ecstatic.

Q.  Dominique?
DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ:  I think we worked really hard throughout the summer, throughout the fall, everything, just to get better and work our way back here.  And this is every collegiate volleyball's player's dream is to win a national championship.  And to do that is pretty awesome.
MICHA HANCOCK:  Yeah, I mean the same thing.  It's just people say you can't put it into words and you really can't.
A lot have said it's the best feeling in the world.  It really is, because to prove you're the best team in the nation is a pretty cool thing, especially with the teammates around you.

Q.  Is it better because you had to grind so much in a match like this instead of maybe like the other night?
MICHA HANCOCK:  It's a little sweeter, yeah.

Q.  What was Wisconsin doing that was causing you complications as the match wore on?
ARIEL SCOTT:  They just have a lot of really good back row players.  They were getting a lot of our swings up.  There were a lot of long rallies.  They were doing that really well.
DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ:  I agree.  I think anytime they got a touch on the ball, they played it up and transitioned really well and got a lot of kills off of that.  So that put a lot of stress on us to come back and play defense or come back stronger.  I think they did a lot of stressing us out, and they played really, really hard.

Q.  Micha, could you tell us a little bit about the evolution of it; Kelly was telling us what an amazing weapon it was because nobody can cheat on you, you can put it anywhere and you have that spin on it, the lefty spin.  Can you just talk about when you started to learn that and how you've gotten better at it over the years?
MICHA HANCOCK:  I mean, I started playing volleyball at a young age.  My sister used to do it.  I was, like, I'm going to be just like her.  So I tried it.  And I just tried to hit it hard and I made a lot of errors.
And just kind of started to focus in on where I wanted to hit the ball and I put pace on it.  I definitely chipped away at it.  But the side spin thing kind of started in college, really.  If I didn't have a good toss, I just managed it that way.  That's kind of how it went.

Q.  Dominique, Washington, University of Washington gets beat pretty thoroughly the other night.  Frankly there was talk amongst people this place is not going to have very many fans and it's going to be quiet.  Didn't seem to be the case.  Could you give me your impression of this crowd and having played in front of Seattle?  All of you are commenting, start with Dominique, and each of you talk.
DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ:  I think they did a great job.  They filled the stands.  Even though their home team wasn't playing here, they still came out to cheer on the national championship game, which is obviously great.  It was really loud.  I think a lot of people were cheering for Wisconsin, the underdog.  Why not?  They play hard, they want to win.  They're going to cheer for whoever.
And I think it kind of stressed us out a little bit but we kind of got it under control and did what we needed to do.

Q.  Did you laugh much?
DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ:  There were a couple of times I heard boos and it was like, dang, a tough crowd.  They were a great team.  Like she said, why not cheer for the underdog, you know, Cinderella story.
ARIEL SCOTT:  I agree.  Put it in a few words.

Q.  Ariel, when a team plays defense that great against you, do you keep going back at them; like Deja was really struggling.  Katie was hot early and then she cooled off.  Is that when they talk about focus and dialling in and doing it?
ARIEL SCOTT:  Yeah, I pretty much swing as hard as I can every time.  So I think that's what I'm out there to do.  I just keep at it even if they're digging me, I don't get discouraged and still ask for the ball.  I think it happened a lot tonight.

Q.  Ariel, I know players, and even coach, never talk about things like this, but tonight, winning, you guys tie Stanford for the most titles.  You have 6 and they have 6.  Can you talk about what that means to you to be part of something like that, and just how Penn State has established itself I think now winning five out of the last seven being the dominant program in the country in volleyball?
ARIEL SCOTT:  Feels great to leave a positive mark on Penn State knowing I left on a high note and setting the tone for girls coming in after me.  That's what the girls before me did.  And I couldn't have asked for more.

Q.  I hate to bring this up, because it's a whole year away, and I know how hard it is to make a Final Four, but Micha, next year, the Final Four is in Oklahoma City.  I know it's been tough to be away from home.  What would it mean to you to have a chance to go back there and play again?
MICHA HANCOCK:  It would be cool.  I'd see a lot of familiar faces in the crowd.  It would be nice to be in a home atmosphere and take all my teammates there, show them what Oklahoma's about.  It would be awesome.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach.

Q.  Coach, there were times when we're charting this, you put the two teams together, the kills time and time again, sometimes I think I got eight out of nine or 12 out of 15 were on the right side.  Both teams that way.  Does that in any way surprise you, tell you anything about your game plan or how they were attacking it, it was right side everywhere?
COACH ROSE:  They run‑‑ both middles were effective hitting the slide.  And we didn't do a very good job blocking it.  And we wanted to take advantage of getting A. Scott taking swings both over Morales if we could.
And Carlini, if we could, just to limit her ability to set the ball.  She's an incredible talent, and each time we saw them, they kept getting better and it was, I thought correlated with how much better she was getting every time we played them.
She's a great player with a lot of experience and incredible ability to make others around her better.  That's a great intangible, and Morales is great.

Q.  If I may follow, we haven't had time to add this up, but I think just from a quick look they actually got their most points off serve.  This is Wisconsin, when those two short players were both on the front row, when Morales and Thompson were there.  Surprise you to know that from when you studied them?
COACH ROSE:  Well, they're really good.  I think the part that maybe gets lost with people is Wisconsin.  Wisconsin's really good.  I mean, they made it to the finals.  They could have won the national championship.
And the story is how well those kids played.  So she might be short, Morales, but she took advantage of big blocks two times this week and obviously two times the last week, and then two times the week before that they hit .400, the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.  They beat a good Cal team in the process.
I don't think it's a real size‑related thing.  That team was put together.  We lost to Wisconsin a couple of years ago.  This is a really good team, a good program with a great tradition.  Coach Waite, when he was there, recruited most of those players.
And he went a different direction and they brought in Kelly and his staff, and the arrival of a couple of kids as well as Carlini, that's a really good team.  I mean, I don't think we should look at it as anything other than this was a match we had to grind out against a really good opponent and it was hard to win this championship.
It wasn't easy.  It was tough playing Stanford.  We played great against Washington.  And the perception might have been we would do the same.  We had two matches where we played against Wisconsin earlier and both times they had us hitting 80 percentage points lower than what we normally hit, and we had them hitting at 80 percentage points lower than what they hit.
So it's two proud programs battling.  I'm thrilled.  I'm really appreciative of Penn State University's support that they enabled us to get here in a fashion that gave the kids a chance to be well rested.  And on a personal note I'm just really thrilled for the many people that care about Penn State that we would win a championship on Coach Paterno's birthday.

Q.  I was just going to ask you that.
COACH ROSE:  What's that?  About Coach Paterno's birthday?

Q.  What the championship means to Penn State after what you guys have been through the last couple of years.
COACH ROSE:  I'm certainly not going to talk about the things that have been beat around that don't make sense.  I mean, those of us that are at Penn State that know the culture of Penn State, know the people that are there, recognize that it's a proud university with a great tradition and great leadership and support.  So we're‑‑ I'm not jumping into that mess.  But certainly Coach Paterno and his family were very dear friends of me and my family.

Q.  What does this mean to you personally, this victory?
COACH ROSE:  I mean, every victory, I want to win every game we play.  So you want to get into situations where you can compete for a national championship.  I thought we had a team last year that could have won it.  We finished second numerous times that I thought we should have won it.
So we work hard.  Everybody works hard.  It's not lucky that you get yourself into this situation and you have to really appreciate it.  And we've had a lot of help not just from the university supporting the program, Selena Davidson, who was the Assistant Coach of the Year, who is an assistant for Texas now, helped us recruit the girls that were seniors this year when she was with us at Penn State.
And she made a terrific impact on the program while she was there.  And Dennis Hohenshelt, now the head coach at Virginia, helped train a lot of those kids while he was there.
So I might be the person who is still there, but I recognize all the hard efforts of all the people that were there when we were building each team and those players and working hard.

Q.  Where does this one rank, and how does it feel compared to the others?
COACH ROSE:  It's like asking me about the birth of my children, how do they rank, you know what I mean?  How many kids do I have, honey, six, eight, they're all‑‑  (Laughter).
I don't rate it you know what I mean.  The goal's to‑‑ I'm not trying to set the bar high.  We're just‑‑ we're trying to compete.  We want to grind.  This is what we do.

Q.  When it's getting chippy in Game 4 and you're down a little bit and they're touching everything and digging everything, can you share a little bit about what you say to the team in timeouts?  They probably knew it was going to get tough but what information‑‑
COACH ROSE:  It was tough.  It was tough in the first game.  No less we could have lost the second game.  And then Micha missed two or three serves in the third game, or we could have won the third game.
The scoring potential that she possesses, it goes both ways.  When she misses her serve as she did, she missed it three times in a row.  Those are point‑scoring opportunities where we don't get Katie to block or hit.  We don't get A. Scott a chance to block or hit.
We try to manage those things.  And we talk about risk and reward.  And I asked her if she wanted to go to the jump floater.  And sometimes the players swear at the coaches.

Q.  What did she say?
COACH ROSE:  Like I said, I can't repeat how the conversation went.  I was like, Then you might want to serve it in.

Q.  I know you don't like to talk about history and all that.  But it is six titles and to me that's a big deal.  And to have won five of the last seven, can you put in perspective then what that means in terms of‑‑ I know every year people expect this from you, but you still have to go out and do it?
COACH ROSE:  Yeah, it's tough that everybody expects it, because everybody who is coaching is trying to do the same thing.  It's not like I talked to a lot of athletic directors when they're looking for coaches and they say things like, We want to win.  It's like, What a foreign concept.  Gee, I wonder if the other schools have picked up on that.
Everybody's trying to win.  Everybody's trying to work an angle to do what they can do.  We don't have a great state for volleyball in Pennsylvania.  So we need to recruit other areas.  And everybody has a specific style of play that they want to have.
So I'm disappointed when last year, when Micha got hurt, because I thought that was a team that could have won.
And we've had some other teams that didn't win that I thought were maybe better teams than the teams that did win.  So you have to be good.  You have to be lucky.  You have to be healthy, all the things that people talk about.
And we were fortunate tonight.  The same as Wisconsin was fortunate the two serves in the fourth game hit the net and fell for aces.  And then the one that we had at the end that hit the net and kind of jammed the girl up.
But it was‑‑ not comparing the matches to other championships, just saying they're for the kids.  They're for those individuals on that team that they'll have the rest of their life to look back on the journey that existed and the hard parts that existed with it because I don't want it to be easy.  I want it to be hard.
I'm reaching the 200 text point level here.  I don't know if my machine's going to blow up or not.

Q.  I mean this with due respect and seriousness, you've been at Penn State for 35 years.  Do you plan to be there another 35 years?  And if the answer is no, do you have something you can share with us about what you think you may need to accomplish before you say‑‑ let one of those people you mentored take over?
COACH ROSE:  I'd want it to be the right person to take it over.  But it won't be my decision.  It will be the university's decision, unless I'm the athletic director, then that will be my decision.
But the way I look at it is‑‑ I always look at coaching, if I have a couple of kids that I like, that they want to be really good, that keeps me in it.
When I have kids that care about themselves and they're not good teammates, that's a battle.  Those are the things, the parents are‑‑ everybody's got challenges.
I don't know how many years I'm going to coach.  It's not always up to the coach either.  It could be up to the school.  Maybe get tired of my shtick.

Q.  You have a shtick?
COACH ROSE:  Yeah, go figure.  Why would you guys be expected to see it.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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