Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pac-12 | Washington volleyball coach Jim McLaughlin on being ranked #1

Huskies coach tells Terry Wood: Bailey Tanner will probably redshirt
  •  next: #1 Washington @ Colorado | October 4 | 6:00PM (Pacific) | Pac-12 Network

Our colleague, Terry Wood, sat down Monday with Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin for a wide-ranging conversation on the day his team was ranked #1 in the nation by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. He talks about Friday’s win against Oregon, being ranked number one, and why he doesn’t vote in the coaches’ poll. He also reveals that freshman Bailey Tanner, recovering from a foot injury, will likely redshirt this year.

Washington coach Jim McLaughlin talks with Kylin Munoz during a timeout

Terry Wood: What makes you happy about the team’s play so far this season?

McLaughlin: “Consistency is one of our core values, and I was really kind of excited the way we hung in there after game three at Oregon. We walked out there and played at a high level.

“As coaches we can still be very critical about a number of things, but the only reason we’re critical is we have these expectations to do something more, to keep improving and become great. I really believe every player on the floor is committed to doing just that: Keep getting better. I don’t think being ranked No. 1 right now means anything other than we’re committed to keep getting better.”

Q: Does this squad show the traits of a No. 1 team to you?

McLaughlin: “Ask me that in eight weeks and I’ll have a really precise answer for you. These guys are making progress. Some of the intangibles are developing. There’s a toughness to them, there’s a want-to, a drive and determination to them. There’s some ownership of situations going on. Those things are as important as anything we do technically or tactically.

“I warn the team, ‘You’ve got eight more weeks. You’re only going to get out of it what you put into it.’ So what’s that commitment level? I admire the kids for how they’re approaching it. But we understand we’re still not doing everything perfectly. We’re working towards that end. I like where we’re at, and I like the direction where we’re moving, but the thing is, we’ve got to stay on that path.”

Q: Leadership was a question last season. Who is showing some this year?

McLaughlin:(Jenna) Orlandini has just stepped up in every way, shape and form. Ky Munoz has stepped up in terms of her presence and leadership. Krista Vansant has stepped up. Jenni  Nogueras  has stepped up to a new level. She’s a different player. She’s also carrying the emotional load, doing it when you’ve got to do it, holding people accountable, doing those tough things you’ve got to do as a leader.

“Most importantly, they’re people that other people would want to emulate. They go about their business every day. That’s a great characteristic.

Q: How well is Vansant playing?

McLaughlin: “She can get it done,” McLaughlin said, “and I keep bugging her and bugging her to get it done even at a higher level.

“I’ve asked her to invest in certain areas. I’ve asked her to have no weaknesses. She keeps working and responding. I’ve been very hard on her, but she responds to that. She wants to be great, so she’s taken every source of feedback she can get. She’s matured a ton, and you can see it in her game.”

Q: Your middles are more involved in the offense than last year. Do you consider their numbers sufficiently productive?

McLaughlin: “I would say yes, but in 2-3 weeks we’re going to need more. I think the percentage is right there. Now it’s about our ability to be consistent and develop our range in the middle, so we can do it on not-so-perfect passes. I think we have the personnel to do it, and I think our setters are good at setting the middle and getting better, so I’ll ask them to give us more as we improve.”

Q: You have run a 6-2 (two-setter) offense all year. Are you happy with the results?

McLaughlin: “Yes, sir, but we study it over and over. You know me; there were a couple of Novembers where we switched the system based on the numbers. Right now it’s the direction we like today. But you know me; tomorrow is tomorrow, so who knows?”

Q: What about your players may still cause you concern?

McLaughlin: “Just being able to have the mindset to think that we’re going to go and not be affected by circumstances we can’t control. Getting sidetracked; I worry about that all the time. There are a lot of people, including well-meaning people, who can get you out of your process. Our players just have to stay tight mentally, stay together as a family and know what our goal is, know what our vision is and keep working towards it. Kind of put the blinders on.”

Q: How impressed were you by that fourth set against Oregon?

Washington's Kaleigh Nelson (6) attacks against Oregon
-photo by Shutter Geeks Photography
McLaughlin: “We put pressure on them in a lot of areas. We served tough, we blocked, we were at 88 percent in our sideout, we passed well. It just all came together. We were in good spots, had good focus and were seeing the game the way we were supposed to see it.  There were no lapses. No one missed an assignment. I think we missed one serve. You need to do that at some point in time, and we did it on the road in a tough environment. So that says something about this team at this point.”

Q: Were you kind of glad you lost the third set so you had the opportunity to deliver such a dominating fourth set?

McLaughlin: “I don’t know. I’m never glad to lose, but as long as you can learn and react to the adversity and come back, that says more to me about a winner than anything.”

Q: How does the national landscape look to you?

McLaughlin: “I think it’s just loaded. There are so many good teams. I think it’s good for college volleyball, for women’s volleyball in the country. There are a lot of really good players. It makes everybody better. But we never really worry about anyone else but ourselves. I think more about our team than anything else I do. But there are a lot of good teams out there.”

Q: The toughest part of your schedule is a few weeks away. Ready to face some tough teams?

McLaughlin: “Yeah. I like being around these girls. They work hard, it’s business as usual. They know when to turn it on and turn it off. It’s fun being in the gym with them. So I’m not afraid of going against anyone with this group.”

Q: You choose not to vote in the AVCA poll. Why not?

McLaughlin: “I don’t want to do it. I was asked to do it, but the amount of preparation it take to do it right, it just takes too much time. The bottom line is I don’t want to waste my time on things that aren’t important. The only thing that crosses my mind every day when I walk into the gym is, ‘What do I need to do to help this team get better?’ Voting on that poll doesn’t help me do my job.

“I did vote when I was coaching at Kansas State. I was looking at the scores and even watching a little film to do the job the right way. It just took too much time, and I said I’ll never do this again.

Q: So you have never voted in the poll while at UW?

McLaughlin (laughing): “No. I think I got the message out early.”

Q: The toughest part of your schedule is a few weeks away. Are you ready to face some tough teams?

McLaughlin: “Yeah. I like being around these girls. They work hard, it’s business as usual. They know when to turn it on and turn it off. It’s fun being in the gym with them. So I’m not afraid of going against anyone with this group.”

  • Injuries have slowed UW’s two freshmen, setter/outside hitter Bailey Tanner (foot) and OH Carly DeHoog (knee), and neither has played in the team’s first 10 matches. Might either be redshirted? “We’re probably going to redshirt Bailey for sure,” McLaughlin said. “We don’t know about Carly yet. Bailey is still recovering, so we want to let her heal and do the right thing for her. We’ll get her in the mix in the spring.”

Photos courtesy Shutter Geeks Photography


  1. Injury-prone freshmen class? That is not good.

  2. Wade and IIRC Sybeldon had injuries last year, too. Maybe at this level it's a learning curve to do what needs to be done without injuring yourself.

  3. really hope they can RS DeHoog also, we have OHs this year, but that would leave a void year for recruiting in the future. If she can get something out of not RSing this year and contribute meaningfully, then so be it but at this late, may be better to sit DeHoog.
    BTW, love this blog


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