Dec. 13, 2012
Michigan Head Coach Mark Rosen
Opening statement ... "Obviously, we're disappointed to not being moving forward. But I certainly give Texas a tremendous amount of credit. They played great tonight. They did a great job, especially down the wire, the match, and certainly wish them the best of luck.
"I'm very proud of our team. We're disappointed, didn't want to finish this way. I'm extremely proud of how this team came together. One of the things they've really taken great pride in is being a great team. And I thought we did that tonight after the first set, and the way that started, it could have gone a negative direction, and I thought our team did a great job of pulling through and competing extremely well.
"So I'm very proud of them. Very proud of our senior, Claire McElheny. Thought she had a great year, did a great job leading our team. I'm proud of this whole team for collectively what they created in the culture of our gym.
On rebounding in sets two and three ... "I thought they came out -- we were really tight in the first game. And it's not really -- not that it surprised us. It's a big stage and a really impressive team on the other side of the court. They got on us pretty early, and I could just see how tight our team was. As the girls said, we did a good job of trying to relax and get into our own rhythm the second set. Passing was a lot of that. They're a pretty good serving team, better than we felt watching videotape. It's hard to pick up some of those things. They got our passers in a little bit of trouble the first set. I thought we shored that up in the second and third set very well. And our team, we're not going to go toe to toe on the outside pin with a team like that and be successful. Their block is just too big and not going to work for us, not how we're built.
"So when we pass the ball better in the second and third set, got tighter to the net, were able to run the tempo that we want to run; I think we had success and showed that. Thought in the fourth game we got tighter again, but they also jacked up their serving a little bit. I thought they came out served more aggressively, and just kind of their way to get back into the game. And kind of got us on our heels a little bit and thought we lost our rhythm a little bit.
"I thought the fifth set -- I really liked how we came out and played aggressively in the beginning. That game went -- it was in the balance. Right before the switch, it's close. It was a two-point game, and then we got back into it a little bit after the switch. They just -- they're a little bit better. They're a little bit more athletic. And you asked the question about how they are athletically. They're the most athletic team we've seen. Doesn't mean they're the best team that's going to win it all. But as far as physical athleticism and size, they're as good as we've seen."
On the Final Four run ... "The girls alluded to it, but this is a team that really kind of came together as a collective group and decided that they wanted to change the culture and be a better team. I knew that -- I think we all knew cognitively that was our way, our way to -- our path to success, because we weren't going to do it just being more physical than other teams.
"And there was challenges along the way in that. And every time there was a challenge, what I liked about this team, they looked at it as a learning opportunity. And they were open. And the girls, they're very honest with themselves and with each other. It allowed them to grow and develop as a team.
"And that's something that I've coached a lot of teams and I've had very few that were -- that allowed themselves to do that as much as this team did.
"It was a lot of work on a lot of people's part, our staff and some external people in our department that -- it was a lot of resources in Michigan and a lot of people that really want great things for all of our programs, but certainly for our program, and we had a lot of people helping. And our players took advantage of all those resources, and I'm just proud of how they came together."
On the program going forward ... "First off, before I look forward, looking at this team, there's a couple things I want to highlight. One is Claire McElheny is the only senior, being a lone senior, and a fifth year. Her contemporaries that came in with her graduated last year. She did a great job leading this team. I mentioned to the team: I hope the younger players were watching because now it's their turn to have to be in that position, and I think she's a great example. I thought Lexi Erwin transformed herself this year and really became a player who could take 87 swings and get 26 kills in a huge atmosphere against a really big opponent. She did a great job of that. Lexi Dannemiller is running the offenses as well as anybody's ever done in our program. So those are some highs to it.
"But going forward, they'll think more about it next year, but the things that come to my mind: Make sure we're really going to work hard to get to the next stage. We can't rest on this season. It will be a new season next year. We'll have new players, different factors, and we've got to make sure that we build a team and a culture just like we did this year and better. And so that's a lot of expectation, but we like expectations. We're okay with that. That's what we're here for is to get better and grow. I'm looking forward to it. But right now it's hard because we want to win now. We wanted to win tonight."
U-M Junior Lexi Erwin
On a balanced offense ... "I definitely think the tempo of our offense helped a lot. They're high flyers, big blockers. I think if it wasn't for the speed of Lexi Dannemiller sets out to the pin, I wouldn't be having those seams. I think Jen (Cross) and Claire (McElheny) did a great job, and KG (Krystalyn Goode) did a great job holding the middles. They were barely being late sometimes and I could sneak that ball in.
On rebounding after set one ... "Yeah, I think we kind of joked about it after the first game that everyone literally made like every single error that you could in the first game. So we got all those out of the way. So the next set we kind of were like, you know what, they have a three before their name. We don't. We don't have the pressure on us. And so we kind of just played loose. And it definitely is hard to kind of forget that. I mean, you go down 25-11 in the first game. But I think our team just came out with this fearlessness mentality, and it worked for the next two."
On the team after the game ... "It was a heartbreaker for sure. And in the locker room, we were really sad that we lost. But I think I was more sad that this group of girls just can't be together again. And Mark talked about we can't go to practice tomorrow, and it was just such a fun year. It wasn't always easy. We definitely had a lot to figure out at the beginning of the season. We had some chemistry issues, but I think we were really honest with each other and figured out our differences in order to be connected. So I'm really sad that I'm not going to get to play with Claire anymore. But I'm also sad that we lost."
U-M Junior Lexi Dannemiller
On adjusting to Texas' blocking defense ... "Same thing like that happened with Stanford. When we saw a big block, we knew we had to make adjustments and try and get seams by spreading it out or going fast to both pins. And then the hitters just adjusting how they hit; if they hit high into the middle of the court or hitting the line or tooling off the blockers. And they make good adjustments, especially after that first game."
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