Kansas Volleyball Holds Media Day

Aug. 26, 2009

Coach Bechard Media Day Press Conference

Tolefree Talks to the Media


Kansas head coach Ray Bechard, along with senior Katie Martincich, junior Karina Garlington and freshman Tayler Tolefree were present Wednesday afternoon for KU’s Fall Olympic Sports Media Day. The Jayhawks open their season Friday, Aug. 28 at the Middle Tennessee Invitational.

Below are selected quotes from media day:

Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Ray Bechard

Opening Statement:

“We got started on Aug. 8 and have had 22 practices, but we feel like we could use a few more before the start of the season, which kicks-off Friday at Middle Tennessee State. We feel we had a really productive two-a-day camp before classes started. Now, we’re trying to get them in a routine since their days are a little more hectic considering the start of school. We think this team has the right mindset and the right leadership. Hopefully we’ll get off to a great start.”

On Returning Players:

“We’re excited about the number of players we returned. Our setter, Nicole Tate, was a freshman last year and returns as sophomore this fall. We threw a lot of things at her last year, so we expect she will be able to do a good job in that position. We have two middle blockers, Brittany Williams, who is a three-year starter and Paige Mazour. Our outside attackers, Karina Garlington and Jenna Kaiser, have started the last two years for us, so that experience bodes well for what we want to get done this season.”

On Freshmen:

“We’re excited about our freshman class, too. We have four newcomers, three of which are in the 10-foot club, meaning they’re touching 10 feet. We’re excited about Taylor Tolefree, a freshman who grew up right here in Lawrence. We think she’ll be able ti enter the mix right away and perform well for us.”

On Defense:

“Our libero position has been very competitive. Melissa Manda returns as the starter in that position. We also have Katie Martincich, who is in her fifth year in our program, as she utilized her redshirt season during her first year. We really have a lot of depth in that position, so defensively we should do well.”

On the Schedule and Big 12 Play:

“We really feel good about how this group has been coming along and where their focus is. We all have established the goal of having an upper-division Big 12 finish, which we haven’t been able to get done in the last couple of years. We open this weekend at Middle Tennessee State. They were a second round NCAA Tournament team from last year and they have everybody back for this season. We’re playing their home opener, so I’m sure the team will be excited to see us. We then head to Arkansas’ tournament, followed by our home tournament, where we’ll see Florida International. We feel like our pre-conference schedule will prepare us for an extremely tough Big 12 slate. Texas is preseason No. 2 and Nebraska is preseason No. 3, and there are three or other schools in our conference that are ranked.”

On freshman Tayler Tolefree:

“Taylor brings a certain athletic skill set, but what really has me excited is how quickly she picks things up. There is always a transition on speed and physicality of the game for a freshman, but when we ask her to do things in practice; we never have to say them more than once. Her transfer of information has allowed her to have a pretty good camp up to this point.”

On trying to return to the NCAA Tournament:

“That’s a yearly goal of ours. We had a pretty good run of doing that, but it hasn’t happened the last couple years. We’ve done pretty in-depth statistical analysis of what it takes for teams to make that happen. I think our team is very aware of what those benchmarks are and the expectations we have established. We feel like in this conference, if you get a top-half finish, you will have a good chance of moving on.”

Senior defensive specialist Katie Martincich

On finally playing a game after so many practices:

It’s always good to get your first match under your belt, regardless of how many practices you’ve had. You can practice as much as you want, but you don’t really see the results until your first game against a different opponent besides yourself in practice everyday, so we’re all excited for that.

On this weekend’s opponents:

Middle Tennessee State is our first match. They’ve had a pretty good history the past few years and they have made it to the tournament the past few years. They are a smaller school, but they have a pretty good background in volleyball. The other two teams are supposed to finish pretty high in their conference. Getting three wins in this tournament is really going to help with our RPI and help our chances of getting into the NCAA Tournament.

On freshman Tayler Tolefree:

The one thing that stands out about Tayler is her athleticism. She can jump high and she’s very quick. She is a very smart player and she comes across as a very mature player, especially for only being a freshman. She is going to add a lot of athleticism and a ton of consistency, which is great to have.

Junior outside hitter Karina Garlington

On having five starters back, and a lot of experience:

This year is going to be so much different than last because we have so many girls returning that have been in Big 12 competition. We understand how important preseason is and how important each game is. The younger players who aren’t as experienced will have an example to go off of, to know how important each play is. I think having so much experience is really going to help get in to a good groove at the beginning of the season.

On playing some of the top ranked teams in the country in Nebraska and Texas:

I think the most important way to look at it is to see it as an opportunity to play amazing teams. You have to take advantage of playing top level volleyball because it will make you better. I use it as a learning experience to make myself better in competition, and to push myself during those tough matches to try and play up to their level. We know we’re a good team, and we know we’re in a tough conference. We just have to keep the Kansas mentality and be positive, and know that we are improving.