Mayers, Hambly chat with Illini Drive

Editor’s note: The following is a partial transcript from an Illini Drive interview with Illinois volleyball head coach Kevin Hambly and redshirt freshman Maddie Mayers.

Illini Drive: You guys are coming off a 1-1 weekend, split the weekend. Got a big win on Saturday and dropped the match Friday. I’ll go to you first, Maddie, what happened on Friday? What kind of went wrong for you guys?

Maddie Mayers: Against Michigan State Friday night, they’re a great team. They are athletic as all get-out, they run a really fast offense. Typically the Big Ten runs a slower offense. Not necessarily slow, but higher balls, higher sets, and Michigan State kinda speeds everything up. So it’s a lot harder to get use to and they’re just really tough.

ID: This is your first year, you obviously redshirted last year, so you got kind of a feel, but how has first year kind of adjusting to the Big Ten play for you going so far?

MM: It’s a really fast game. That is still taking some getting used to. And I think it’ll take a few more months, probably the rest of the season to get used to this.

ID: Coach, I wanna ask you about how you think Maddie’s adjusting to the Big Ten so far.

Kevin hambly: I think she’s done a good job. She’s been a little bit up-and-down with her attacking, but for the most part blocking-wise she’s been great. She’s picked up our system pretty well, which it’s not an easy system to understand. And she’s done a pretty excellent job, blocking-wise. Attacking-wise, she’s made some big gains technically, with what she’s done since she’s arrived. It doesn’t always show in the matches. I think that’s fair.

MM: Yes, definitely.

ID: Five-set victory against Michigan on Saturday night, five set victory. Can you break down that game for me and what it was like, I guess playing in that kind of environment

MM: It was great, that game, it was a lot of fun. Obviously the first set, we came out, we played really well. We beat ‘em 25-20 I think. Sets two and three — not as good? Not as good. But obviously it’s OK because we came back in the fourth and fifth sets and we beat ‘em and we fought until the end, I thought.

KH: Yeah, I’d say we won the first set, you know, we just executed. And then in the next two sets we tried to win the match, you know, we just played not very well. And it was a nationally televised match, so a lot of people got to see that we just didn’t execute, and we didn’t pass. And then we settled down in the fourth, and I thought we played pretty well. Then in the fifth we played really well. I think what was interesting about the weekend was that we fought in all the sets, and some we just didn’t execute. Last week, I don’t think we could’ve said that. We could’ve said that Iowa-Nebraska, we didn’t always compete that hard. This week we competed hard, not always in-control, but we competed hard.

ID: I know that had to make you happy then, obviously.

KH: Yeah, I mean that’s what we did all week. Everything in practice was for competitive. And then against Michigan State in the first, it felt like we were just swinging wildly. Like we were in a fight with a really skilled boxer, and we were swingin’ and swingin’ and swingin’ and not making contact. And they were just tearing up, just body shot. And then against Michigan we actually counterpunched a little bit, and then we gave ‘em a knock out. … I think we started to figure some things out, which was great to see.

Illini Drive can be reached at [email protected] and @IlliniDrive.