Nebraska Final Four Press Conference Quotes

Alamodome • San Antonio, Texas- Press Conference Quotes from Nebraska Volleyball Head Coach John Cook, Senior Melissa Elmer, Junior Christina Houghtelling and Sophomore Sarah Pavan

John Cook, Nebraska Head Coach

On Santa Clara
"Santa Clara, to me, is like the Gonzaga of men's basketball. They're from the same conference and they were an unseeded team. I think they should have been a seeded team, but they lost a couple of matches in November that probably knocked them out. They are very good defensively and have won three huge matches to get here. They'll have a lot of confidence. John Wallace, who I've known for a long time, is an excellent coach. He's done a great job of building at a smaller school and making them a great volleyball program."

On the importance of new teams at the Final Four
"It doesn't really happen a whole lot. It happens here or there, but this year certainly there's been the most dramatic impact of non-traditional teams in the sport of volleyball. From that aspect, it's been good. What's probably most important is that this continues, and, for example, Tennessee and Santa Clara build on this back at their universities with their fan base and build interest in their communities and parts of their states to help build the sport. Otherwise, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

On his team's adjustment to the 6-2 offense this year
"At the beginning of the year when we made the decision, I'm sure people thought I was out of my mind. But every good coach evaluates his or her talent, what they have and how to best maximize it to give them the best opportunities to be successful. So we created this system a unique system that allows us to take advantage of our great athletes on our team. It allows us to essentially get eight or nine of them out there playing and take advantage of their strengths. It was a big risk, and we started off with a Final Four-type tournament with only two weeks of preparation. I was scared to death, to be honest with you, that the whole thing would backfire. I asked the team what they thought and they believed it in and felt it was the best system for us."

Melissa Elmer, Senior Middle Blocker
On the presence of pressure at the Final Four
"There is still that little bit of pressure being the number one seed. There are four great teams here and we all had to play four good matches to get here. This is a fun time and it's exciting, but each team especially us has to worry about what we're doing on our side of the court and we'll be successful."

On her blocking success
"Nebraska's led the nation in blocking I don't know how many of the last few years five years or something so it's something we really take a lot of pride in. For me, I'm a middle blocker. That's what I do and that's my job. I've worked really hard at it and I've learned to pay attention to a lot of the little things. I'm really focused on that in practice and throughout the season."

Christina Houghtelling, Junior Outside Hitter
On the change to the 6-2 system this season
"We've adjusted really well, just having so many weapons out there. Every rotation we have three or four hitters. I think we all believed that each one of us could do it. As a team, we take so many big swings and have so much power. I think we utilize it well."

On the mentality of getting to the Final Four
"We feel as if it's just another match. We have two more matches this year and we want to come out and play well. We're looking at this as just another road trip."

Sarah Pavan, Sophomore Right Side Hitter
On the 6-2 offense
"It's been an adjustment from last year. We don't have hitters playing out of the back row so often and it's been different not having a setter in the front row. But I think with all our strengths we have, it takes advantage of our outside hitters. It makes other teams work that much harder to figure out who's going to get the ball because everybody can do so much. Yeah, it was an adjustment at the beginning, but the team really embraced it and trusted the coaches who said we could do it."

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