Hambly stops by to talk with Illini Drive

By Daily Illini Staff Report

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

Illini Drive: Backing up a little bit, in the game against Morehead State, you said going in that your team may have some wide eyes.

Kevin Hambly: None of them had played in it before. More of Morehead State’s kids have played in the tournament than our kids, but they win their conference every year so they have a chance to play. They were loose, and they came after us. I thought they were really a tough team, in fact, I would say they were tougher than Marquette in competing. Marquette came out hot in the first set, but then they backed down. Morehead State never backed down, I was really impressed. But our team weathered it a little bit. We are just so much more physical, and maybe more skilled, and we just took advantage of our size, and it just took us awhile to settle in. I don’t think we settled in until halfway through the first set. Marquette, the first set was fast. There was a lot of speed. I think it would be like playing Oregon in football, you prepare for it, but until you get out there and play it, it takes awhile for your eyes to adjust and adjust defensively. But once we adjusted, we dialed in and handled them pretty well.

ID: Was that just it, the defensive adjustment between the first and second set?

KH: Yeah, it wasn’t like we didn’t know them. It was more of the kids, the tempo, they were just real fast and different. Sometimes when teams are like that, they can surprise you with their speed, and I thought they did. Not that we didn’t prepare as well as we could, I was never worried we were going to lose that match. Even though they beat us, I think, 19 in that first set, I felt like “Okay, guy, you got this, you understand this,” because at the end of that set, I thought we started to figure out how to play them. I was not worried at all. I kind of figured we’d win the next three, to be honest.

ID: How much do you get to prepare for Marquette? Is it really just the one night or are you also just preparing for another team during the week?

KH: I mean, the team gets to prepare. We had nine matches on them, so we knew them well and knew their tendencies, but we had an hour to get ready for them. And that’s what’s interesting about the tournament. I get some criticism from other coaches because they say we spend Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday preparing for opponents, and we do it the day of the match, all the time, because I am always worried about the tournament. I want to prepare for the tournament. I want to get used to putting a game plan in in one day, like we had to Saturday. Thursday, we spent an hour and a half, we put our game plan in, and I thought we executed it relatively well. But then you’ve got to turn around and not even know who you’re going to play the next day, have an hour to put a game plan in, so we have approached the Big Ten and every tournament in that way just to get us ready for the tournament. Everything to me is about the NCAA tournament, the way we schedule, the way we do everything. I don’t really care about the Big Ten or the conference.

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