Add to Calendar
Skip to main content Skip to footer
BUY TICKETS

NCAA Regional Weekend Underway for Spartan Volleyball

Dec. 7, 2017

Michigan State got the NCAA Regional weekend in State College underway on Thursday, getting in its open practice and its introductory press conference.

The Spartans, loose and enjoying the atmosphere, got in a 90-minute practice at Penn State's Rec Hall, the first of the four team practices that were open to the public on Thursday.

Below is a transcript of the Thursday press conference:


______________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan State head coach Cathy George

Opening statement…
It’s great being here. We’re really pleased to get back into things and this tournament. We’re looking forward to the field and playing our very best volleyball.

On the advantage of playing in a familiar facility…
Honestly, because three of these teams are from the Big Ten, this is an advantage for everybody so it’s an equal thing, except maybe for Missouri (who is) probably new to the area. But for us and Illinois and Penn State, it is the same, but definitely as you get in, you’re just comfortable with where you’re going even like where you’re eating and what you’re doing at different times.

On playing Illinois…
I don’t know that there has been drastic changes with what we do or anything like that, but I think Illinois, when we played them the first time, they did not play their best match. We know that when we played them. They were kind of a little flat and just not really playing their volleyball. They’ve really turned it on as the year went on and got into some of those matches; beating Minnesota and now going on the road and doing such great things. You know they’re a great team, and we knew they had a lot of talent even before this year. You looked at their roster and what was coming back from last year and adding some really good freshmen. They’re doing some nice things and I really respect what Chris (Tamas) has been doing, and so we know we’ve got a different team on our hands tomorrow.

 

 

On having a good team balance…
I don’t know if that gives us an advantage over Illinois, but I know that it’s important. Balance is always important. It’s been something that we’ve really enjoyed because we’re able to, and as Rachel [Minarick] alludes to, she feels like she can set anybody and that’s a nice thing when you’re a setter. Part of being a really good team is the ability to do that and to count on all your players. It’s a senior cast that has played with each other for a long time and they know each other so well and they feel each other. You know when you’re out there, you feel each other playing.

On her senior class...
I think that when you look at years go by, I think all teams learn lessons from each other as you go through the goods, bads, the indifferent. You’ve gone through preseason and you just understand each other and you appreciate each other. So you watch that so on the court they do understand and they look to each other. They trust each other in that sense so that’s a nice thing that develops over the years.

On the leadership from her seniors…
This group is different in that they just ‘do’. Everything is just staying the course, business as usual and I like the way they approach things in that kind of way. Going back to the leadership thing, I think that in moments, I don’t think they necessarily recognize this, but what they say at key moments is really important and as leaders they do a nice job on the court of righting the ship or saying the things that need to be said, or on the bench when we are in time-outs. I really like what they are doing there. They’re probably not going to say anything to toot their own horn as modest as they are because that’s what they are. We just have a humble cast that gets back to work and does what they need to do, and I think that’s just how they’ve gone through from match to match to match. I like that about them.

On how relaxed her team is going forward…
We’ve been through so much together. I mean, we understand each other, so it is business as usual and getting back to what we do, and they are relaxed group anyway. That’s by nature and so it’s great to see the way they approach it. It’s just, ‘Okay, what’s our next job? What’s our next moment? What’s the next thing?’ And you just kind of take it one step at a time, and you keep your mind there. So they come up, ‘Okay coach, we’re doing a warm-up? Okay, we’ll go do it.’ They’re getting back at it and keeping it real, keeping it in the moment and just doing what we do. I mean, because they have that experience being at the NCAA Tournament and doing those things, it’s not new, it’s just kind of go about it and plan on what we’re doing. We don’t want to look forward, we don’t want to look behind us, we’re just kind of staying right here.

On the Big Ten schedule helping prepare the team for the NCAA Tournament…
It’s grueling as the year goes on for sure, but it does help prepare you for one night to the next night. You know how to get back in the classroom, get ready your next opponent and bounce back. Their understanding of scouting reports and what you’re doing, it definitely does. It’s a quick turn-around, but we’re used to that so hopefully we get the chance to do that again.

On her thoughts for the weekend…
I like what they’re saying. It really is a pass and serve game and it’s for both sides, it’s that. You know and making sure that we just get a great battle out there tomorrow and leave it all on the court.

Michigan State senior setter Rachel Minarick

On how it feels as a team going into this game…
We’re really excited. This is our first trip as a senior class - and everybody else - to the Sweet Sixteen. There’s a lot of excitement, but also a lot of familiarity with this facility so that’s exciting, and the two teams we play, we’ve played before. So it’s excitement and also knowing that we’ve seen these teams before is cool, too.

On playing with her class…
It’s just really special especially to be here at this point. It’s something that we’ve always wanted to achieve as a class, and as a team of course, to get to this point and further. It’s just really special to look at each other and know that we made it here and that we want to do even more and go farther in the tournament together.

On leading as a captain…
I’d say that we’re a senior cast. That’s really nice to be able to lean on our other girls for leadership, too. I think that’s what’s really great about having a veteran team is that we can look down among our ranks and know that people are going to handle their stuff. Our young girls have done a really great job of that, too. So being verbal leaders is important and we always say leadership is a contact sport so reaching out to people and things like that. It’s been a good year so there hasn’t been much bad stuff that’s happened that we’ve had to deal with so they’re easy to lead.

On being named All-Region…
As a setter, it just speaks to how good our hitting and passing has been this year. It’s really easy to be the setter on a team like this. All the credit to everybody else.

On how tournament experience will help this year…
I think that, like we talked about, there was an extra sense of urgency knowing this was our last shot to get past that point, but at the same time, our goals are set a lot higher this year. We’re happy to be here, but we know that we have our sights set to get past this weekend. We don’t want to over-celebrate, we are happy about it, but we want to keep going forward.

On what the team needs to do successfully…
I think just playing aggressively and not holding back. Our game is power and serving and stuff like that, so just doing what we do well is going to be important.

Michigan State senior middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink

On the advantage of going to a familiar facility…
We know the airflow and we’ve been here before and it’s easier for passing. I’m not a passer, but I hear that its easier from the girls who do.

On the consistency in the starting line-up…
I think we can all lean on each other, and if one of us isn’t having a great night, our balance kind of evens that out and it doesn’t put a lot of pressure on us as individuals because we know that everyone else can step up. Just the chemistry between all of us is really special.

On leading as a captain…
I would say for myself I’m more of a lead by example type. I can get pretty vocal, too, but I like to just work hard and kind of do my work that way.

On having a sense of urgency as seniors…
I think it’s kind of unspoken. I mean, we’re all feeling that and you kind of want to use it in a good way and not let it consume you almost. I think that has helped us move forward and go into every game with all that we have.

On being named All-Region…
I think for me it was just seeing the amount of us on that All-Region team. I thought that was just so cool that it just speaks to our season and how we’ve been so well-rounded in every position. It’s just exciting.

On what the team needs to do to be successful…
I know we talk about it a lot, but the pass and serve game. I mean getting other teams out of system and staying in system yourself, that’s going to be huge for us.

Partners & Sponsors