Notes from Shondell’s Press Conference 11/21/2022

DocRon

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Dave Shondell’s Press Conference 11/21/2022

For those of you who missed the press conference, Dave talks about why he is still pleased with the team, about the two big games coming up this week, a little about Meg Renner’s injury, what Big Ten team he thinks has improved the most over the season and which of his players have improved the most from the beginning of the year,

Dave’s Opening Statement:
  • Mixed results but solid weekend in terms of level of play. Always want to win on senior night and we did against Michigan
  • Michigan is loaded with talent and a very difficult team to beat
  • We played well throughout the entire match and won some tough sets
  • Then went to Nebraska playing a top 5 ranked team
  • Fans there always treat us well and are very knowledgeable. They treat us with incredible respect that you don’t get anywhere else
  • For about a set and 3/4 we played really well
  • At that point they took over. We held them under 0.200 hitting % which is an achievement but the trouble was that our % took a nosedive
  • Meg Renner was injured in a play in the 1st set at the 18 point mark and we were ahead 18-15 or 16 and she had to come out of the game
  • Grace Balensiefer came in and did an admirable job in blocking, containing the left side hitter and in the backcourt
  • I feel good about where we are. Not sure what will happen to Renner - no info yet.
  • Two big matches this weekend - Maryland on Wed 11/23, Thanksgiving in Happy Valley and then Penn State on Friday 11/25
  • Both teams beat us here at Holloway and both matches should be very good
  • The NCAA draw is on Sunday 11/27 at 7:30 and you can join the team in the Spurgeon Club
  • I don’t see any way we are hosting at this point so we will find out where we go
  • Our RPI right now is 24 and the committee looks at our last 10 games. (We are 4-4 at this point)

Q: How much has Grace Balensiefer meant to you this year - someone who you didn’t know how much she would play?
A: Sunday she came in and gave us a great match. We may need to use her for the rest of the season.
  • There are some things she needs to get better at - as well as she played, her outsde sets need to get better, getting her feet to the ball instead of bump setting will be important.
  • But having a setter with her savvy and craftiness - she scored some points for us in the front row which is really good for someone who is undersized for this league
  • It has been a delight to have her in what she has given to this team in practice - in her selflessness this entire year. She has been a great teammate

Q: How important are these last two matches in terms of going into the NCAA?
A: That’s what I was talking about - yes it is very important
  • People get confused looking at wins and loses but I think our team has steadily improved all year
  • They don’t look at how many top 15 teams you are playing during that stretch
  • The first half of our season was easier than this last half
  • It has not been easy but I think we competed really well in almost all the matches and played hard every night
  • The team has hung together and their attitude has been great - they love and care about each other and we are getting bette
  • I think we are in a pretty good spot

Q: Things got more difficult with the Maryland match here. Are these next two games to see how much you have improved?
A: Yes but it is to see how much they have improved too. We are not the only team trying to get better
  • Penn State is a team that may have improved as much as any team in the B1G. They were an unknown quantity with 4 grad transfers.
  • I think these are two matches that can go either way

Q: People thought with the players that left last year that you didn’t have much experience or depth. And you have had injuries along the way. How impressed are you by this team?
A: My goal before this season was to make the NCAA tournament.
  • The grad transfers had a lot to do with that. Neither one has ever played in the NCAA tournament
  • All the seniors have done a great job driving the bus and leading this team
  • Our freshman have done a great job - two have redshirted but played their tails off in practice
  • Eva Hudson has a chance to be B1G Freshman of the Year
  • Our team has played hard - we haven’t won as many as we would have liked but no one ever does

Q: You said the back half of your schedule was tougher. What are the pros/cons of that schedule just before the NCAA?
A: Overall I don’t think its bad being challenged. Playing Nebraska is the level of competition we will get if we get to the second round of the tournament. To play at somebody else’s venue that is really talented was a great experience for us.
  • Ohio State just drilled us and playing those type of games exposes our weaknesses. It showed us some things we had to get better at, especially defensively
  • But I think our defense is on schedule. We still have things we need to get better at offensively
  • When we get beat it’s because we give up runs of points in specific rotations.
  • Against Nebraska we actually gave up runs in our best rotations - mostly because they served us really tough and we didn’t respond to that very well
  • My question is, will the committee be wise enough to look at how many top 15 teams you have played or do they just look at the record of your last 10 games?
  • On the other hand, look at Michigan - their front half schedule was murder. And I think it has an impact on them in their second half - they lost confidence I think

Q: Maryland coming here and sweeping you? Obviously you have a game plan but how much of this rematch will be emotional.
A: Teams respond to those things in various ways but since it has been awhile I don’t think they will get caught up in that too much.
  • We certainly take some of the things that they did against us in that match where they beat us in three close sets
  • I sat down with our analyst for a half hour today about what we need to address
  • We don’t have a lot of time to change things but we do need to be the best version of ourselves

Q: With the defense in the Nebraska game it seemed the back row was really working hard defending a lot of tough shots. Would you agree?
A: Yeah, I felt like it was one of our best efforts of the year, especially in the first two sets
  • Our players who play the right-back position, which is Emily Brown and Eva Hudson, played as well as they have all year
  • Our middle backs have been coming in for some extra work and they did a really nice job of keeping balls off the floor
  • Anyone like Nebraska will really challenge your libero but Schermerhorn was pretty good. Her numbers weren’t as good as she really was.
  • Raven Colvin was a force blocking in the middle going up against two huge middle blockers and she was the best middle blocker (and hitter) on the floor

Q: With Annie Drews coming back for senior day, what did that mean for the team?
A: She spent a lot of time with our team. She compared going into the Olympics like going into the NCAA - it is not longer about you but about the team.
  • She has become an incredible, polished speaker. Her growth since she arrived at Purdue is immense
  • She has spoken to our team twice and her words mean a lot to this program

Q: Since the beginning of the year, could you say who has improved the most?
A: Yes, Lizzie Carr - who you are not going to see until this spring
  • She is our 6’6” redshirt freshman
  • She and Brielle Warren both red-shirted this year because we didn’t think they would warrant enough playing time to burn a year of eligibility
  • In practice they play so hard and both have improved a ton
  • Lizzie might be playing right now if we had not red-shirted her but it makes no sense to strip that year from her this late in the season
  • Also, Meg Renner has really improved.
  • Raven Colvin is picking stuff up and has been really good the last two weeks. I realize everyone is so impressed by her but I see how far she can go and what she is capable of doing
  • Chinn, who was hurt against Louisville early, but now in her last four matches has had 3 great ones and one pretty good
  • I am sure I am forgetting others but collectively this team has shown steady improvement because this is their mindset

Q: I am sure we saw Michigan wished they had at least one of those challenges back that they used in the first set Friday. How much is that in the back of your mind that you need to keep a couple bullets for if you need them late?
A: It really depends on the situation. Like if you are playing Nebraska and in a tough situation and that game is still close, you might burn a challenge where if you are playing someone not as good you may not use that challenge because you feel like you will persevere
  • Maybe that is how they felt.
  • But it is also what you challenge. If you challenge missed touches, it depends on the cameras and also who is going to look at the monitor
  • Quite honestly, I think they were right on the challenge but there was not enough there to reverse it.
  • So she loses two challenges in the first set and has nothing left for the rest of the match
  • Cameras have a lot to do with it and the Big Ten has upgraded the cameras just this year but they are not like the Olympic cameras where they have that “Hawkeye Vision”
  • I know she probably wishes she had them but I do not discredit her for what she did
 
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