"I was really excited about the team's play last weekend at Georgia Tech. Friday night's match was a big step up for us. We had a big challenge for us going into Georgia Tech, fifth-ranked team in the country, they had just come off a big win at Nebraska the weekend before and they are probably one of the hottest teams in the country. So I was concerned if we were going to be able to match up with them and go with them and our kids did a great job. We actually had a much more balanced attack this time. We've been having just three people be out kill leaders and this time we have five people with double-digit kills and I thought that was just great. So it was an encouraging weekend. An unfortunate loss just to lose it at the end, but it was an unbelievable atmosphere. The place probably held 1,200 and there were 1,400 in it, 25 band members and they're biggest crowd ever, so it was probably louder than our matches in the field house even. So it didn't bother our kids. They played hard and played some great ball."
Do you think you're ready for the Big Ten?
"I do now. Before last weekend, I was concerned that we didn't have what it took to step up against the best teams and I feel much better about it. I think our team has a lot more confidence in themselves now. Going into this weekend with Big Ten play starting out, we're up for the challenge now. We've got more people playing with better confidence. We have made the lineup change where we can either go (Lisa) Zukowski as the libero or Zukowski hitting. (Marian) Weidner in the front row did a nice job over the weekend, so I think we have the weapons now and the attitude to start."
"Coming into this weekend, Northwestern and Illinois are going to be good teams to start with. Northwestern is a team on the rise. They really came on last year, we split with them, lost at their place, won at our place. They have two of the top kill leaders in the top statistic categories in the Big Ten. Erika Lange in the middle is very tough to stop, an All-American candidate. Illinois is a very big team. They go from 6-3 to 6-4 to 6-5 across the front row. So they are always strong but again I think we match up well. I think our speed and ball control is going to have to come through this weekend because both of these teams are probably bigger across the front line than we are."
How different is the feeling you have, the expectation that you have going into Big Ten play, as opposed to the last couple of years where you were considered a Big Ten title contender, but also a national contender?
"It's a different feeling and I think a better feeling. The team feels much more relaxed. We have much better chemistry with this group than we did last year and I think over the weekend, we saw a lot of that, both in the Georgia Tech match and even South Florida where we were down a good number of points and came back. This team keeps coming back all of the time. I think the ceiling is high for this team and I think they are going to do well, not having a target on their back and chasing other people."
Who is the team to chase then in the Big Ten?
"Probably Minnesota and Penn State right now. Minnesota had a tough start, I think they actually going into this weekend had a losing record but are coming on strong now. They had a good win against Northern Iowa. They just played a top-10 schedule almost every weekend in every match. I think they are still going to come on strong and be very good. Penn State returns a lot of people but are still not as veteran a team, but they still should be very, very strong."