Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pac-12 | Jim McLaughlin talks with Terry Wood about Washington volleyball

Who boils over but can “drive the bus?” Who is reserved but has “competitive fire?”
  • #5 Washington @ #10 BYU | Friday, September 5 | 6:00PM | BYU TV Sports

Our colleague Terry Wood sat down with Washington volleyball coach Jim McLaughlin to talk about the 2014 season.

In the article published in today’s Seattle Times, McLaughlin tells Wood about a conversation he had last spring with junior Cassie Strickland:
“I said, ‘You are a good outside hitter. But you can be a great libero. You have all the skills and the personality that should enable you to improve and become one of the best in the country.’
“She thought about it and said, ‘Jim, I want to do whatever I can to help this team.’ Now she’s in a position where she can drive the bus. She does an unbelievable job of that. She provides energy and direction and won’t let this team ever hang their heads or give up. She fights all the time.”

Washington's Cassie Strickland moves to Libero for the 2014 season
-file photo courtesy Shutter Geeks
Be sure to read the rest of the article here.

Exclusively for Volleyblog Seattle readers, Terry shares several other intriguing McLaughlin insights not included in the Times article:

On his impressions of his team during its opening three matches:
“I think we played reasonably well. We had difficulty from time to time, but overall we passed some tests knowing that we can continue to improve. We played really well offensively and reasonably well defensively.”

On if barely edging Gonzaga for a second straight year was a cause for concern:
“Last year we had a mature team and we got tested by Gonzaga. It was good to see how this team with so many freshmen responded to adversity. We had composure and played great in game five, and then we really played well against Boise State on Saturday.”

On his team’s overall play:
“We played in spurts. We passed well for a while, then we lost our focus. So we weren't good start to finish. Our blocking wasn’t good, relative to what we’re capable of doing. We had some miscommunication. We’re learning this language and being able to talk to one another. We've got to learn how to listen. We call it earwork. Some miscommunication gave opponents easy points.

“Serving at times was very good. The vets came on at the very end and so did Tia Scambray. Digging was good for the most part. We didn’t stay on our assignments blocking, and collectively we weren't good defensively.”

On his team’s passing:
“It was pretty good. We handled the ball well for being the first time on the road against kids who could handle the ball really well. We were susceptible to the short serve, but that’s something we’ve got to work on. But we passed pretty well.

Courtney Schwan was one of our best passers in preseason. We were switching out Courtney and Tia every game, and Tia was just lights out passing.”

On the likelihood that he’ll use two setters again this season:
“We’re still figuring out who should go where, so we mixed parts and mixed positions, which is always tough on a team. If we went with just one setter, right now Katy Beals has the best numbers.”

On if Katy Beals has the demeanor to be a single setter:
“Katy’s presence is strong. There were matches last year where we ran out of subs and we ran a 5-1 and she pulled it off. That’s the most important thing: her example and how hard she works. She’s not this extrovert. She’s this very humble, reserved girl. She’s a very good person. She’s got to talk when she needs to talk, and she’s doing that. She’s got a competitive fire about her that not many people know about. But the people on this team do.”

On redshirt freshman Carly DeHoog, who appeared in just Friday’s match:
“She’s making progress but she’s got to make more. Her numbers were not very good (two kills, two errors on seven swings, .000, against Portland State). I wanted to play her (Saturday), but we played some people who were good. We’ve got to get her back in the gym and just train her.”

On Cassie Strickland’s high-energy nature:
“Sometimes her competitiveness can boil a little bit high and it can affect a couple plays, but she’s matured and gotten better on that. She’s becoming a very complete player.”

On his team’s serving and the high number of serving errors during the first weekend:
“It was a little bit spotty. We served poorly in our opening match, and we didn't really serve well until the fifth game against Gonzaga. Against Boise is like how we usually serve. It’s a focal point for us for sure.”

On if he wants to get more offense out of his middles this season:
“Against Portland State we hit a lot of quicks and we rolled. We hit for very high numbers against Gonzaga, but we didn't set quicks much. We need to set it more. That’s one thing we've talked about as a staff—that we've got to push the middle more. We should be able to get more quicks going.”

On what kind of potential he sees in freshman Courtney Schwan:
“She’ll become an All-American at some point. I’d like to see her fight like crazy and become a starter and see if she can do that her freshman year. But we've got three freshmen who can do it. We’ll see who develops, who fights, who earns the position. She’s very complete. Now she’s got to understand, what is her identity? What is she great at? She’s the type of kid who should have three or four identities.”

On the on-court identity of freshman Tia Scambray:
“She nailed her passes. She took care of the ball. She’s a very good volleyball player. She’s good at the net, and will become a very good blocker. She dumps some balls. Very good presence, good fire, not afraid to become a good attacker. She’s a physical kid. But she’s a freshman. I’m really excited about helping her and the other freshmen reach a higher level every week. Being around these kids is fun.”

On Krista Vansant:
“She’s got the game. Right now the focus is just passing and becoming the best outside hitter with the ability to pass in the country. She does everything else. There are always things to improve on, and she understands that, and she embraces that. That’s what makes her so good.”

On if Vansant is making progress as a passer:
“Yeah. She’s presenting her angle earlier. She’s tracking the ball earlier, and she’s becoming smoother, not as jerky when she makes contact with the ball. That’s something every passer has to go through and get the repetitions. She’s asked me every day for more reps. She’ll work hard at it and she’ll accomplish it.”

On Kaleigh Nelson:
“She had a good weekend; she hit over .500. Her load when blocking is a little bit late, but that’s something that’s fixable. It’s mostly eyework. She’ll be in better spots when she sees it better. We expect huge things from her.”

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