On whether the team has gained any momentum by winning its last three matches:
Well, I hope so. I do think the last week and a half we’ve played pretty well. The win on the road against Kansas was big to get on the board on the road in the Big 12. And KU is a good, much-improved team that’s a tough opponent on the road. Playing here against Kansas State, I felt we played pretty well. I thought we executed really well, I think we were in a good flow offensively. SIU-E was a little bit of a tough one because we were coming off two big conference wins, and then coming in on Halloween and playing a team that’s really been struggling was a tough one to try to get up for mentally. I don’t think we played exceptionally well, I don’t think we were as sharp as I would have liked. But we did a good job, we got some other kids in and got them some playing time. This is the time of year that you’re hoping that you can start building into the last eight matches of the season. I hope we can carry on. Obviously, Nebraska on the road and Texas at home, that’s a tough week for us. But I hope that we’ll respond to the challenge and get up there and compete well.
On how the schedule sets up the rest of the way:
While I wouldn’t say it’s easy by any means—it’s going to be a tough, tough last eight matches for us—but the plus side is the way the home and away fall, it provides us with a great opportunity. Now, we’re going to have to take advantage of it and earn that, and I think our players understand that, but down the stretch I’d certainly rather have Baylor, Oklahoma, and Iowa State here rather than face them on the road. I do think those three matches in particular will be really pivotal ones and give us a great opportunity to do some really good things down the stretch.
On getting freshman setter Kate Harris some playing time Saturday:
It’s always a big adjustment, and that setting position is really a tough one for young players to come in to. Just like the quarterback on a football team, it’s a lot more than taking the snap and finding somebody to throw to—there are a lot of things that are going on. You gotta pay attention to the defenses, you gotta know the plays. In most of the other positions, you’re primarily concerned about what you’re doing individually. In that setter position, you’re really running and offense and still trying to pay attention to what you’re doing individually—and that’s hard to do for a young kid. I think it was really good that we could get her in and not just spot, but take over for two whole games and get her a chance to work with that first group. And you never know…you have to have somebody prepared. If the wrong person gets hurt, you’ve gotta have somebody ready to step in.
On the team’s depth and Amanda Hantouli:
I think that’s going to be a big key. You’ve gotta be able to make adjustments during matches. You have to have answers, you have to have options. I think that’s been a strength for us throughout the year. Amanda has just been very steady, very reliable. She’s kept herself ready, and as a fifth-year senior, I’ve been really pleased with her willingness to do that. She’s not in a starting role right now, but I think Amanda realizes that she’s going to play quite a bit. To me, it’s not who’s starting, but who’s finishing. I think Amanda this week has provided some big play for us.