We (were) at the University of Kansas this weekend and went 2-1. I'd say between that weekend and the weekend before, we were off to a good but not great start. I think our underclassmen are doing very well. Actually, over the weekend, we at times had three freshmen and a sophomore on the court of our starting six. And this was the first time we also saw a new freshman, Taylor Reineke, step on court and do some great things in the middle blocker position. She went 10 kills, one error, hit .600 for the match, so I think that's something that's going to have us looking at changing our lineup around a little bit and try and get her on the court more.
Just overall across the country, I don't know if people followed the results. But of the top 25 teams, I think it was 13 or 14 upsets took place and a couple of those were the very top teams. USC lost at Illinois. Nebraska lost at home to Florida A&M and that was a loss for them at the No. 2 ranking. But I think it was the first home loss for them to an unranked team since 1986. So there were just a lot of shakeups going on, a lot of things happening this year. So it's really going to be wide open.
And for us, we're a team trying to find where we're going to be before Big Ten play because we're got so many new kids out there. The upperclassmen are learning to adjust with the young ones out there. Also as far as the different setting tempo from Jackie Simpson, but there's some great signs of good things to come, so I'm happy with that. Sheila Shaw had a big weekend and she's been great both weekends so far, so we said that she's going to be one of the real standouts and she's doing a great job with that.
How has your young team handled the ups and downs so far?
I think overall as the group, it's just obviously inconsistency and it's not always the freshmen. Sometimes they're doing all right. Sometimes for the upperclassmen, just learning to have new teammates beside them is the adjustment they have to make. They're handling it fine. We're 3-2, it's not a big deal. It's early and we've got another weekend at home here in front of us, so we're looking forward to that.
But we're still a team and a staff that's trying to find out who's going to be in what position at any give time. And I think that's what we were looking for this preseason being is that we had to take some time to see who would be in the middle position, when we said that about Bladow or Taylor Reineke. And now maybe we make some moves with Bladow even and look at her on the right side or just different things too to give us depth at different positions, because we're going to need that.
You need one more a win for 400. What does that mean? Anything special to you or what does 400 mean to you in your career?
That's a great milestone, there's no doubt, but what it does is it makes you look back to when you started and how many teams and staffs you've been around and what players have done along the way to get you there. I'd like a lot more than that this year than just that one to finish up. But it says a lot of good things have happened and that's great. I'm excited about that, but it's always what are you going to do in the next game, so it doesn't matter that much.
Do you have a good field for this tournament?
We'll start out with Virginia on Friday night. Virginia right now is 7-1, so they're off to a good start. They've got a couple kids from the Midwest here, so I know they'll be bringing a lot of family and friends along. Marshall is a team, I think, they're 3-3. They're kind of rebuilding this year, but they have been strong in the Mid-American Conference and Cincinnati is a very strong team. They're 5-2 right now, but they've got the player of the year in Julie DuPont, who is from the Milwaukee area coming back in. So it's going to be strong. It's going to be a great challenge, but for us, it's more or less getting our act together on our side of the net and I think if we create the tempo that we need to and the level of play, we're going to be fine.
With a young team like this, are they progressing?
Yes, they are progressing. I think it's two steps forward and one step back sometimes because they're learning a lot of new systems, a lot of new play calling, defenses, things like that. That's why upperclassmen are usually a little more steady. They're used to everything. They used to all the teams they're playing. They're making progress and I like that and they're very competitive. They have great spirit and they've got great skills. So those things are good start with, and then as they mature, it's going to get better and better.
Monday Press Conference: Pete Waite
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