NCAA Tournament First/Second Round Quotes

Suzie Fritz, Head Coach
On the mindset going into the NCAA Tournament Selection Show…
“I think there was some uncertainty. We felt as though with a Baylor win we were in, and with a Baylor loss, we were putting ourselves at the mercy of the selection committee. So we knew we were going to be right on the edge of, in or out. It turned out based on RPI and some different factors that as it came out, we weren’t one of the last teams in but we thought we would be.”

On being a Big 12 team helping in the selection process…
“It says a lot. The Big 12 has the second-ranked RPI in the country, and RPI is a very large determining factor for whether you’re in or out these days.”

On the last few weeks of the regular season…
“There were some significant wins in there. I felt like the Iowa State win [on November 18] was big. That was probably the win that put us over the top, and we have struggled to continue to build momentum here in the last month. We’ve had some frustrating losses and some frustrating performances where we haven’t executed well, but I think we’re starting to turn it back the other way. We’ve had two good days of practice, and I like where their mindset is at. I’m feeling pretty good going into it.”

On Wichita State…
“They’re quite young, similar to us. They’re playing a lot of new personnel that we’re not terribly familiar with. They’re good - they’re really good. They’re a good Missouri Valley team. They won their league and that says a lot about the quality of team that they are. They’re well coached and pretty talented.”

On All-Big 12 Freshman Team selections Macy Flowers and Alyssa Schultejans…
“They’re doing great. They’re doing freshmen things along with doing great. They have some ups and downs. There are times, because they’re long and they’re athletic, that they can do some things that are pretty special, and I think in time as soon as they gain further experience and they get a greater composure and greater confidence, I think they’re going to be extraordinary players for us. But right now the learning curve is pretty steep. We kind of threw them into the fire and said, ‘Don’t burn.’ They both have very big jobs, and I think they’re playing under stress. I’ve been very pleased, from start to finish, on how they’ve done.”

On the team’s history in Nebraska…
“Even if you have had players there before, it’s a new experience every year. It’s a new team, it’s certainly familiar, and we know that if we’re not in a position to be one of the [top] 16 seeds that our journey is likely north a lot of times. There’s some regionalization within the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. [The Devaney Center] is one of the premier volleyball venues in the country. It’s a wonderful place to play. Great fans, great atmosphere, great facility, so I think it’s an exciting opportunity for us this year.”

On the progression of the team over the year…
“For us, we have to go back all the way to last spring because that’s where we started. We started in January and really started working on where we wanted to be now in December. So the opportunity to play in December in and of itself is pretty exciting for us.

“There are some days where I’m feeling really good about where we’re going, and then there are other days when we act like we’re young, and I think that’s to be expected. They’re doing as to be expected, but I have been very, very pleased with their process. They have gone about it with great intention. They have worked very, very hard for us. They have tremendous character and are a really, really neat bunch of young people.”

On the focus of the team going into the NCAA Tournament…
“We’re feeling like we have to try and play cleaner. Play low error, be smart with it, take care of the ball, serve it in, hit it in, wait for your opportunity, be patient. Coming off the Baylor loss, we felt pretty impatient. We played very high error and we’ve got to get that corrected and reeled in before we play again.”

On Katie Brand…
“In terms of all the things that she does for her team, and you can take setting out of it, her ability to dig, her ability to make bad situations better, her ability to create opportunity for hitters, her ability to be a presence at the net both from a blocking perspective and an attacking perspective are pretty special – in an elite category. In terms of all the factors and all the things she can do for her team, I would put her in the top five setters in the country.”

On Katie Brand’s development this season…
“She’s been critically important (this season). We kind of put that on Katie. We told her she’s going to have to take that role even as a junior. Her role is to make the people around her better, and as a young player she didn’t want that responsibility. Katie wanted to work hard and take care of her own house, and I think where she has grown the most is she now has a greater ability to make the people around her better.”



Katie Brand, Setter, Junior
On being selected for the NCAA Tournament…
“We were kind of shocked. We didn’t know going into it that we were in 100 percent, so when we saw that we were in, we were so excited. I think we have this new life in us and we’ve noticed that in practice the last few days.”

On playing at home to Nebraska (Brand is from Grand Island)…
“I love going back to Nebraska. Last year we got to do it, my [true freshman year in 2012] we went back there so obviously we have a history of going there for the NCAA Tournament. I’m excited to see all my family, and I think we can pull some fans there and have a good fan base.”

On the importance of making the NCAA Tournament for the younger players…
“It’s huge, but I don’t think you know that until you get there. We’ve played in Nebraska before, we’ve played in big games, but the NCAA Tournament is just a completely different feeling.”

On the season overall…
“We lost four key players last year, so this year was kind of a big test, and we’ve had some big highs and big lows. It’s been a roller coaster.”

On the NCAA Tournament providing new life to the team…
“We talked about that [on Monday], how all 64 teams left now, we’re all 0-0, nobody’s lost, nobody’s won. It doesn’t matter what’s happened in the past; it’s a whole new season.”

On earning All-Big 12 recognition…
“I think it says a lot. We have five girls who were named to conference teams, and that says a lot for our team. It’s huge.”



Katie Reininger, Junior, Middle Blocker
On the team’s reaction to making the NCAA Tournament…
“There was a slim, little sliver of hope, so when we saw our names on the screen, it took us a second to realize that was us. We were in the tournament, in a good spot in the tournament. There were a few seconds of absolute silence before we were clapping. We’re all really thrilled to be in the tournament. We’re excited to be out there playing the sport we love.”

On Coach Fritz’s message to the team after being selected…
“She just said we should be really appreciative of this second chance; that we can do well. We’re starting over from scratch, and we are the team that’s going to fight, be out there, and do great.”

On earning All-Big 12 recognition…
“It says we’re all really working hard at all of our positions. We don’t just have one person on the All-Big 12 teams, we have a whole bunch of people. It shows we have depth, and we have a team that can fight and do great things together. [For me] it was exciting, and for a middle [blocker] to do that, you have to have a good pass, a good set and a good team around you. I think it’s an honor for the whole team.”

On the team’s current confidence level…
“We’re really confident. We have nothing to lose.”

On playing in the Big 12…
“We have a really deep conference. There isn’t a team that’s bad in this conference. You have to come into every match prepared. We have really fast teams in this conference, we have big defense and blockers, and I think that means we’re really prepared to see other teams.”