Assistant coach Conners, middle blocker Johnson recap first weekend of Big Ten play

_Editor’s note: The following is a partial transcript from an Illini Drive interview with Illinois volleyball assistant coach Dan Conners and senior middle blocker Erin Johnson._

*Illini Drive: (Friday’s match was) not the way you guys wanted to see (the Big Ten) start. What are your takeaways “from that match”:*

*Erin Johnson:* I mean, I think we saw that we have to be a lot more aggressive. Big Ten is always. It’s a tough conference. It’s one of the toughest in the country, I think, and every night you have be ready to bring it. And I think we played really passively and I think we have to know that we have to come out more aggressively and attack our opponents.

*ID: What sparked the run to start that fifth set (of Sunday’s win against Wisconsin)?*

*EJ:* I don’t know if there is anything you could pinpoint it on. We were saying the same stuff the entire match:“Let’s be aggressive. Let’s attack them.” It was kind of time to put our words in action.

*ID: Coach, Annie (Luhrsen) had a season high in assists. She had 60 on Sunday. Is that kind of a sign that the offense is starting to click and at the same time, the hitting is distributed?*

*Dan Conners:* I think the balance in the attack was really nice Sunday. And I think we’re trying to push the tempo a little bit , and I think that’s helping. We’re going a bit faster, getting some people some better situations to attack from. And Annie definitely did a nice job putting the ball in a good position for those hitters.

*ID: Now you come in here. This is your first year as an assistant coach here. What interested you in this job when this came open?*

*DC:* One, it was an up-and-coming program. It was a program that has kind of turned around in the last four to six years since Coach Hambly has been here. …And I just like his philosophy and the team culture he has here.

*ID: Alright E.J., we had you on last year and you said you weren’t a fan of the E.J. Stomp. … You can tell Spike Squad what you want when you serve or when you score. The floor is yours.*

*EJ:* I don’t know what I want. I just want them to pick something cooler. Like in E.J. Stomp, where does the stomp come from? … I appreciate them cheering for me.

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