Opening Statement on InnTowner Invitational:
Waite: "This is the first time we are doing this format – a classic format with the ACC conference schools playing against Big Ten schools. We have Iowa coming in, but we won't be playing them. We decided to do that mostly for our fans because we've got normally some preseason pre-conference tournaments in which we've had teams in where we'd play a noon match and our fans would have to decide between a noon and a seven o'clock match and not be able to make them all. Now we are going to be able to have a Friday night match for Wisconsin and a Saturday night match for Wisconsin and now they are going to be able to come to both if they want to. So I think it is going to be great and we hope in the future we will be able to get stronger and stronger teams in all the time."
How did you play down south? I know Pepperdine was pretty good, but overall were you pleased or not?
Waite: "In the first two games, in the first two matches I was happy to get the three game sweep. Those are some pretty decent teams, even Louisiana Tech – people don't know that name very well in volleyball, but you look at that roster and they've got two Brazilians, one is a setter, a very, very good player. I think they are both 23 or 24 years old. You are going up against some real veteran players and I think two or three other players were JC (junior college) transfers coming in, so it's a real veteran team. Overall, we played well against those two teams. Against Pepperdine, I wish we would have played better. We played a good second game, but in the first game our ball control wasn't there. This is one of the biggest teams in the country. The literally across the front line and even the back row, they are 6-2 to 6-4 all the way across and that is just huge. They are also bringing some great jump servers and to stay with them we have to have some great passing and ball control. In the first game we broke down definitely. In the second game we actually had them 28-26 and just let it get away a little bit. So, we know we can play with them but we are going to have to be a lot better and really show ourselves up defensively and passing wise before we get into our Big Ten season."
Pete, you'd talked about the chemistry a lot during the preseason and now you've had a couple weeks to look at it. Has the team, I guess, played well together? Is the chemistry as good as you thought it was or what did you see there?
Waite: "I still think the chemistry is good. I think we need to get better. Some of that just comes down to technique. In those matches, like against Louisiana Tech, we actually were down at one point I think we were down 10-17 and a team that didn't have good chemistry would kind of fall apart and let that one go, but we came back a couple of games in those matches and won. That still tells me the chemistry is there, but we definitely just have to shore things up and get stronger defensively. Again because we are not going to be a big blocking team, we better dig a lot of balls and pass balls so we can run our offense."
Waite: "Duke I believe is 3-3 right now and North Carolina State is 4-3. Duke, we actually, they came in here last year and we saw them and actually at their place we saw them, so we are pretty familiar with the team. It is a big team also, but I think our ball control and speed with give us the benefit of the doubt there. I think it'll be a good match though. North Carolina State is not a team I have seen. We'll have to look at them on tape and see how they are doing, but overall it is going to be a good weekend for us. Again, just getting better as a young team with some players on the court like an Amy Bladow and a Maria Carlini in there. This last weekend actually Bladow came in the middle and she did a nice job. She did some things we hadn't seen her doing before, so she may be getting the nod this weekend and be starting in the middle for us. I think she can bring much more athletic ability, where Carlini, we can move (her) some other places and get her on the court even more, so we are happy with that."
Do you have as much depth as you have had in previous years?
Waite: "This year we are not that deep along the bench I
think. We've got some people Marian Weidner coming off the bench on the left
side. She's actually playing defense right now for Aubrey Meierotto. Marian's
shoulder is just coming off surgery this summer and just last week she was able
to take some full swings three days in a row, so we are going to probably see
more of her getting on the court when we need her to. Then again, in the
middles, we've got a freshman coming in for freshman, so it is still pretty
young coming off the bench, so that's a little tough. I think the ones that are
in there are doing great. I think Jill Odenthal has been doing an awesome job.
She is literally just unstoppable in most of the dimensions she plays - in the
front row and hitting out of the back row. Aubrey Meierotto, you'll probably see
getting a lot of court time this year that she hasn't seen in the past and she
has just been slugging the ball out there and doing a great job. And (Lisa)
Zukowski is doing an awesome job. She is just one of the most dynamic players
out there. Again, her size at the block hurts just a little bit, but she brings
so much more in attitude that it really helps us."