The Sweet 16 of the 2019 volleyball NCAA Tournament gets under way at the Field House in Madison, Wis. on Friday afternoon. The No. 4 seed Wisconsin Badgers welcome the No. 13 seed Texas A&M Aggies in the first match up and the No. 5 seed Nebraska Cornhuskers battle the No. 12 seed Hawaii Warriors in the second.
Madison Regional Game Times— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) December 8, 2019
Fri., Dec. 13
(13) @AggieVolleyball (4) @BadgerVB
⏰ 2 p.m. ET
(12) @HawaiiWVB (5) @Huskervball
⏰ 4:30 p.m. ET
Sat., Dec. 14
⏰ 6 p.m. ET
The teams held open practices on Thursday and also held press conferences. Here are the transcripts from the Badgers and the Aggies before the game tips off Monday afternoon.
- Head coach Kelly Sheffield opened the presser: “We’re just so excited to still be playing. You’ve got great opportunities in front of you and it’s a sport that these guys just love. They love to play. You live for these kind of matches. You train all year long to be able to do this kind of stuff. To do it here at home is cool, its special. This will be a long day I’m sure for them but we’ll be ready to go. We’ll put our best foot forward tomorrow afternoon.”
- Sheffield was asked about Aggie Hollann Hans: “Have you seen film of her? She stands out. She’s talented. This is a really, really elite team. Defensively they hold teams to low hitting percentages. I think Hollann, her serve is thick and nasty. Our team is going to have to grind away and know that at times, she’s probably going to get hers. That’s probably okay at times. You can’t give up big massive runs but she’s going to get a point here and there. Offensively she is awfully good.
- Senior Tiffany Clark touched on how a run in December is different from one earlier in the season: “In December, all of the teams are pretty good. UCLA was a really good team and I think that those runs felt different than they do in season because you know you’re playing against a really, really talented team. And just the thing that you have the opportunity to end someone else’s season, doing stuff like, being aggressive. I think UCLA was a really good serving team and we’re happy that we sided out a lot, had those runs. I think that’s in large part to our offense.”
- Molly Haggerty on how to stay mentally tough throughout a match: “I think the Big Ten does a great job of setting us up for that. We talk a lot about being in the present and just living the moment. We do a good job of coming in the huddle, whether we win the point or lose the point, and looking each other in the eyes and just knowing that we are all with each other no matter what. If the emotions are getting high, we’re staying pretty consistent and know that we have each other’s backs.”
- Sheffield on what part of their success this season is because of those defensive specialist: “It’s massive. I think our back-court players anchored by Tiffany over here isn’t just the most underrated part of our team – it might actually be the best part of our team. Our offensive numbers are pretty high, and that’s all started with the first touch. Everyone within our team appreciates how tough, how talented and how resilient they are. Tiffany’s a great example – she gets aced three times at Ohio State and has been aced once since then. A massive part of our success is our people in the back court.”
- Dana Rettke on having home court advantage: “Being able to be a top-four seed and hosting has helped us a lot. Not only being comfortable where we are, but we have a great fan base, and of course we want to defend our home court. It’s exciting for us because we’ve put in a lot of hard work in this building so it’s awesome to see it pay off here.”
- Sheffield on the fans: “We were playing Iowa a couple weeks ago, and the loudest the Field House was all night was a point we didn’t even win. It was an unbelievable rally and we ended up losing the point, but the place was still going bonkers – they just appreciate great volleyball. They’ll be waiting in line four hours before matches here to get in, and that’s incredible. Match tickets went on sale at 8:30 a.m. (on Monday), and I had a neighbor that had three computers open and ready to go and at 8:31 it said she couldn’t get any tickets. A large part of that is the way these guys play and conduct themselves and how they inspire others.”
- Rettke on potentially facing Nebraska, a team that the Badgers have swept twice already this year, in the Elite 8: “We feel great. We’re going to put ourselves in the best place possible to be ready for that match, but we have one more match to play first so we’re going to focus on that.”
- Texas A&M head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn: “This team is so special. Just the experience in the day to day with them is entertaining, to say the least. They’ve earned this and I love the way they have been executing this year. We’re just excited to be here and compete and enjoy the environment because we know it’s going to be a high level. I’m just proud of this team and everything they’ve accomplished thus far and we’ve got more work to do.”
- Kuhn on Wisconsin’s serving: “We talked about the middle. She has a nice serve and that’s because of her physicality and how that ball is coming from a different angle. We know it comes down to passing and serving and we talk about that to them all the time. Calling the seams early, knowing the seams they want to serve, but it’s the same for our servers. We know where we want to go and who we want to be serving. Even at the highest level of volleyball, it comes down to the serve and pass game. That sounds very basic, but it really does. We need them to be out of system, just like they’re going to want us to be out of system. You talk about Camille (Connor) being an offensive weapon, that’s part of it. That really, at the end of the day, is what it’s going to come down to.”