National semifinals postmatch notes and quotes
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead and his studentathletes. Coach, congratulations and your thoughts about this evening's match.
COACH OLMSTEAD: First and foremost, just hat's off to Texas for an outstanding season. For being in this position to play in the national semifinal, and all credit to Coach Elliott for an outstanding program and the tradition of kind of the excellence they have there as a volleyball program.
And I don't know if I can go any further than that because I'm just enjoying every minute with these kids and there's a couple of kids on this team that just don't want this thing to end.
So I'll hang out with them as long as they want to hang. And I'll keep rolling with them. They just did an unbelievable job. Unbelievable, their composure throughout that entire match. We were down two points, three points, came back, went ahead, just defensively offensively I see there's some negatives there and for right now it's not my concern. Because there's some outstanding performances. And like I said before today, earlier today, I just love each one of these kids.
I'm honored to just coach with them and be a part of these kids. That's it.
Q. Tambre, in that fourth set especially but throughout the match it appeared that BYU had an amazing ability to cover the block when Texas blocks was put up, they were big blockers the third set. You guys were covering. Does that come from playing against good blockers or how were you able to cover so many blocks as a team?
TAMBRE NOBLES: We just wanted to make sure that we had each other's backs. We wanted our hitters to go up and have the confidence to take big swings knowing our defense would have our back if we got blocked. So it was a team effort.
Q. Jennifer, you took Texas out of system, particularly in Games 1 and 2 but particularly the entire match. How big a focus was serving tough and pushing them out of system so they couldn't run the middle all night?
JENNIFER HAMSON: It's a really big emphasis we have. We've just been getting better and better at it focusing on making the ball move and passers move not necessarily going for aces, and I think we really executed that today.
Q. Alexa, how would you describe the dance that Amy does after she gets a block?
ALEXA GRAY: I don't know. It's kind of awkward.
But it works. Yeah. We like to see it.
Q. And at some point did it feel like you guys were getting tired? Did you ever say to yourself we gotta win this thing now?
ALEXA GRAY: No, not really. We're not really thinking ahead a lot. So we just try to focus on what ball, like the next ball and that we can control that. When we're down, I don't know, we just we all just come together as a team when we're down and we believe we can come back because we're a great team and volleyball is a game of runs.
So we just know after they get their runs we're going to get our runs so we'll come back.
Q. Jen, what went through your mind with that last kill, winning the match?
JENNIFER HAMSON: Honestly, swing high because I kind of got blocked that first time, and I just went a little bit higher and caught her hands.
Q. This is the third time now in this tournament that you have won the first two then lost the third. What about your mindset or mentality going into the fourth allows you to avoid a fifth set?
JENNIFER HAMSON: We just really focused on staying even, whether we win or lose this set, because like Alexa says it's a game of runs.
And we didn't expect to come in here and sweep a good team like Texas. We knew it was going to be a good battle. We just had to stay composed and know and believe in ourselves that we could do it.
Q. Alexa, Oklahoma City has hosted a lot of NCAA events, basketball, softball all over the map we're known as Cinderella city or upset city somebody comes in and does something unexpected do you see this as an upset and second part to that question how did you not get yourselves mentally wrapped up in the whole Texas mystique, ranking and all that stuff?
ALEXA GRAY: Personally, I don't think it's an upset. The numbers besides the name is the only thing that says it's an upset. We know we're a good team.
I think we have confidence that we can come in play our hardest and that our best can beat anybody's best here in the tournament.
Q. How did you not mentally let the whole Texas mystique, all of that, some of the stuff you just addressed, get in your way?
ALEXA GRAY: We try to focus on our side and whoever is on the other side of the net is in our way of our goal. So we don't really look at the logo on the side of the jersey. I think we just try to move our shots around and if we play to our best, I think we can pretty much beat anybody.
Q. Jennifer, if I have this whole wrong, the whole thing gets blurry, the swing at 25, I believe that was your ball that the tip was called on. Did you see it? Did you hear a tip? Did you feel a tip?
JENNIFER HAMSON: A touch? I personally felt a touch, but you never know with like, yeah, it's honestly the ref's call and I think they do the best they can.
Q. Alexa, it seemed as if you were very patient in your hitting. They put up a pretty good block but it looked time and again that extra split second that you were taking to decide whether to cut or go straight, have you worked on that? Do you think that's an accurate description of what you're doing is being patient?
ALEXA GRAY: Yeah, I don't go into my approach thinking what shot do I have, I try to see the block. And I've really worked on that this year.
So if they like dive in or something, I know that I have my line shot to go. But mostly I just read the block and go where they're not, usually.
Q. Jen, what kind of was going through your mind all of last year as you were looking forward to this year? And for the other two, how did making it to the Sweet 16 last year help make this run this year?
JENNIFER HAMSON: Honestly, I was cheering them along the whole way I was so excited for them. I could see each of them grow and get better as they played. And lots of girls stepped up and really improved and did good things while I wasn't there and I kind of used that inspired myself to do well in basketball.
And then coming back I knew we had a good team that we could play well together.
Q. Texas ended this third scoring eight straight points. Had a lot of momentum. What was said in the huddle going into the fourth, what was the attitude of the team?
JENNIFER HAMSON: We just had to shake that one off not think of the past just focus on what we need to do better in the next set to come.
Q. I was going to ask you the same question that he just asked the girls about what you said to them after losing a third set and how that set ended going into the fourth set.
COACH OLMSTEAD: I had no not that I didn't have a problem with it but I subbed out Tambre I think and didn't let her run past me, and I said get a good drink, get a nice breather; you're going to come back in and do great things.
And she did, no doubt.
But I just, you know, volleyball, we talk a lot with these kids about volleyball is this kind of game and we try to live up here and allow maybe other teams to do that. When they went on a run the last thing you want to do is freak out, oh, my gosh, it's the end of the world, darn it, we couldn't win that match in three. That's not their mentality.
And we've talked about it so much that I think they really believe that. And like I said I was okay. Cosy went in there and got a couple of I think hit a couple of errors I wasn't up jumping and screaming and freaking out, all right, let's get through this set and we'll regroup, get a little break and get after it.
Q. The ball completely went away for you guys in the third set, was Texas doing anything different? What were they doing?
COACH OLMSTEAD: No, they were taking smarter swings, for sure. They were taking little better swings. I think they were trying to be aggressive thinking maybe they could move the ball around a little more and maybe didn't totally and completely, weren't good with our height or our physicality.
I'm not sure, but I think it was first a function of I thought our serving let off a little in the third and that's allowed them to be closer to the net and set that middle and get the middle going and she got a bunch of those kills that's what I thought.
Our serving let off a little talked about it towards the fourth set and they got back after it, our girls did, I think that was the biggest factor, passing improved and they were passing it closer to the net able to get the middles going.
Q. I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about the tip call. I know you're going to take it no matter what?
COACH OLMSTEAD: I mean, look, my dad, one of the best refs out there. I can stand by that. He's reffed a ton of Final Fours.
They did an outstanding job. That's what I'm going to say. Win or lose I'll always say that. Honestly it was on the other side. I'll be completely honest. I couldn't see anything. But I believe these refs are doing a darn good job and really, really focusing on making the right calls.
And that's a nonissue for me.
Q. Your hitters seemed to move the ball around really well and particularly in Games 1 and 2 fooled Texas quite a bit. Is that something that you guys is a trademark of the team, is an ability to go all over the place and spread your hits around quite a bit?
COACH OLMSTEAD: We've got some kids that can move the ball around really well. And our middles didn't have typical very good matches at all to be honest. One of them might have been, one of them was negative and the other one was only 200. So that hurt us because they were able to really get set up on the pins.
I wish our middles could have got going a little more. But our kids, we've got to have hitters that have range, that's what we've got to have is range as a hitter. Not just one shot. If you have one shot everyone's going to take that away. We train our hitters to have range every day in practice hitting lines and warmups hit with range because you're going to need every shot in every match, especially a match of this proportion.
Q. With Alohi starting as a freshman in the final format, how did she fare? She had a few double contacts and a few things in there, but she was able to fare recover from those. How did you feel she played?
COACH OLMSTEAD: She was outstanding. She had a few. That happens in practice, too. And the important part that doesn't rattle her and it hasn't.
So I think as a team there's been an outstanding effort from everybody and so when that happens, we're able to just say next one, let's go.
She showed a real ability to do that, actually.
Q. As you look back at today winning the award this afternoon and then winning in the Final Four, just kind of your emotions as you look back at the day as to how it compares to some of your other days coaching?
COACH OLMSTEAD: This is big time for me. But not as big as being a dad and my four little ones, to be honest. But in terms of coaching I couldn't be more honored, like I said, to work with these kids and be a part of these lives. I was fortunate enough to be here as a player.
And it's just been surreal to lead a group that set out on a goal and kind of worked their way towards it. It's been an honor and exciting.
Q. 421 hitting percentage, 19 kills, talk about her play?
COACH OLMSTEAD: Yeah, the kid a lot of people sometime in the tournament she was, you know, kind of up and down. And people were asking all about her. And Jack was there in Seattle and the kid just went off against Nebraska.
And she went off against Texas. But that's Alexa. She is the West Coast Conference Player of the Year. Let's not forget that. And that goes a long way. So we've got confidence. I've got confidence in every one of these kids.
If Alexa doesn't play well for a match or here or there for a set, I'll look her in the eyes and say: You've got this, let's roll. And they've been real good with that. I feel they respond really well to that. And that's what Alexa can do.
Q. It appeared that you started set four in a different rotation than one, two, three, to put Alexa Gray front row to start set four. What went into that decision, changing
COACH OLMSTEAD: It wasn't my decision, probably. No, I've got great staff around me. I think we were looking at a few different things. And of course we were looking at Alexa kind of going off.
And our coaches, honestly they give me honest feedback. It's all about those guys. They give me great feedback. They help me, if you go look on the lineup sheet, they're writing the lineup as well, I think we've gotta do this or it's working well here. I felt we were getting stuck in a couple of ro's to be honest. When Texas scored points, we got stuck in some rotations. So we wanted to avoid those rotations but be in a good spot as well.
Q. Talk about Jen Hamson's performance.
COACH OLMSTEAD: There's not enough words to describe that kid. And just what she's done for the school. What she's done for the sport of basketball, the sport of volleyball, the conference, everything. I mean, the kid's been an outstanding representative. What she's done, taking a basketball program to the volleyball first and then basketball, then back here, miss a year and then be back here. She doesn't want her college volleyball career to end. There's no doubt about that.
What she decides after this, I have no idea. And I don't ask her. I don't care. I support Jen. I love her. And whatever she decides I'm going to be her biggest fan.
But right now the kid's just loving what's going on right now. You can see it in her eyes. So if that's the case, let's keep moving. Let's keep going. And she is just an outstanding young lady that represents our family, our church, our school, our conference. She represents everything to a T. Perfect kid. Great kid.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
BYU women’s volleyball season tickets for the upcoming 2023 campaign will go on sale beginning Wednesday, July 26.