Kansas Volleyball Holds Fall Olympic Sports Media Day

Aug. 20, 2008


Kansas head coach Ray Bechard, along with seniors Savannah Noyes and Natalie Uhart and junior Brittany Williams were present Wednesday afternoon for KU’s Fall Olympic Sports Media Day. The Jayhawks open their season Friday, Aug. 23 in an exhibition scrimmage against former Kansas volleyball alumni.

Below are selected quotes from media day:

Volleyball Head Coach Ray Bechard

On Brittany Williams’ health:

“She will absolutely be ready to go at the start of the season. She’s been practicing very well; we have to hold her out of very few reps. We knew that she would bounce back in a lot of ways. The key to that injury is getting around people, and (in volleyball) there are a lot of people in a small area. She’s got to be comfortable landing and jumping next to people. She’s done a great job of that. We think from that standpoint, with Natalie and Brittany in the middle, we can match up with anybody.”

On what he’s watching for early in the season:

“Our hitting efficiency, which is like batting average and field goal percentage, was in the lower half of the Big 12 last year. As we researched the standings throughout the years I’ve been here, hitting percentage has been one of the key factors as to how people place. That’s something we’ve paid very close attention to. We’ve been keeping those stats in practice. The other thing is going from 30 points to 25. You’ve got to be better sooner. So a lot of our drills have been based on, ‘how can we be successful in this drill early?’ If you don’t, in side-out volleyball it becomes very difficult.”

On what the expectations are for the team this year:

“We will be very disappointed if we’re not still playing in December this year. That’s when the NCAA Tournament starts. Does that mean you need to be in the top three or top five of the Big 12? Usually if you’re in the top half, you’re in pretty good shape, but there are no guarantees. Postseason is our goal. We haven’t been there the last two seasons. Obviously we have to remember what those teams were doing well, and what got them to that point.”

On having to deal with injuries the last two years:

“That’s the way it rolls. We’ve been trying to do a lot of things outside of the practice floor. (We did) landing school for the new players, so they learn to land balanced. We brought different people in to see if our bodies were in alignment. We’re paying attention to that sort of thing, and sometimes it comes down to just being a little unlucky. We’ll deal with whatever happens, but we’d like to see them all out there all the time.”

Redshirt Senior Natalie Uhart

On possibly being cursed with injuries:

“I actually thought about changing my number because I thought it was bad luck. Then I decided I would just keep it and make it a good number. I was going to change it to 15. That was my high school number. I was going to change it for this season, but it’s my last year so I decided to just stick it out and make it a good number.”

On dealing with being injured so often:

“It’s frustrating. I go through these phases where I’m frustrated, but then I am used to it. I just have to deal with it, but sometimes it’s hard because I’ll see Savannah (Noyes) who’s healthy and she’s touching a hundred more balls than I am. I can’t really practice. Then when it comes to game time I hope that I have a good game because I didn’t get to practice as much as others players.”

Junior Brittany Williams

On being back from a knee injury last season:

“It feels good. I went through a whole bunch of stuff mentally about not being ready, but as soon as I got out there with my teammates, they were very supportive, and it all came back naturally.”

On the toughest part of rehabilitating her knee:

“Walking, running, basically anything that had to do with my knee. Learning to teach myself how to be aware of my body has been one of the hardest parts. It’s not only saving yourself, it’s also your teammates. If you step over the line you could also roll an ankle of somebody else. Besides running, body positioning and landing correctly, were probably the hardest things after rehab.”

On how her awareness of her body helps her game:

“What’s really weird is that it really made me grow up as a player. I actually see the other side of the court. If I have a slip up or anything during my run I only have a second to change my mind. I have to look up at the other side of the court. I have to see where my setter is. It really makes me conscious of where everything is around me.”

Senior Savannah Noyes

On fellow senior Natalie Uhart playing in her sixth year of eligibility:

“We crack jokes on her all the time. She’s a sixth year senior and I’m a true senior. She’s going to be 24 and I’m 21. We have a three year difference. Her nickname is grandma on the team. Natalie has been through a lot and she has a lot of experience. She helps us out with that and we help her out by keeping her young.”

On Uhart’s experience helping the team:

“She played at Long Beach State, that’s a whole different view of volleyball. When I played middle I would try to watch Natalie. She’s a great blocker. She can play defense, she can do everything. She can help anyone on the court. Even when she is out she’s talking to someone and helping, telling them what to do. She’s a big help to the team in every way.

On what will make this season a success:

“A lot of it is we want to make the NCAA Tournament. We made it my freshman year. We weren’t probably supposed to make it, but it was a big accomplishment that we did that. I think everybody wants that again. We don’t necessarily have to be in the top three or five, but the top half is good place to go for, beating teams we haven’t beaten before. Everybody playing their best will help with that.”