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Nov. 20, 2003

2003 SEC Women’s Volleyball Tournament Page

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Coaches and players from the eight teams competing in the 2003 Southeastern Conference Volleyball Tournament met with the media Thursday as the teams made their final preparations. The tournament is set to kick off at 1 p.m. Friday with #1 Florida facing #8 Kentucky. At 3 p.m., #4 Tennessee faces #5 Georgia while #2 Arkansas takes on #7 LSU at 8 p.m. Host South Carolina, the sixth seed in the tournament, will face the third-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide at 6 p.m. Friday evening.

Judy Green, Alabama Head Coach

“We are very humbled to be a part of this tournament. It has been an incredible experience to be able to coach this team. The Southeastern Conference this year was the best from top to bottom that I’ve ever seen. You couldn’t take a night off this season. Teams must bring their ‘A’ game every match.”

On facing the host school, South Carolina: “Last Wednesday, we faced Auburn in front of 1,200 fans. For that match, we talked about using the crowd and momentum. I’ve told our team that we could face South Carolina in front of another 1,200-sized crowd. We’re ready to face South Carolina in front of a large crowd and I hope that there will be 1,200 people at that match; I hope there will be 1,200 people at every match.”

Erin Price, Alabama Setter

“For me, this is my fourth year competing in the SEC Tournament and I’m ready to go out on a good note. I think we are peaking at the right time and we are ready to play.”

Chris Poole, Arkansas Head Coach

“We look at this tournament as a new season. Everyone is starting over and everyone is here and ready to play. Anyone can come out and play well and anyone can win. We will take what we’ve learned throughout the season and apply it this weekend.”

On Florida: “Florida is clearly the favorite and should be. They had a lot return and had a great year this season. But between the second and eight seeds, it is as close as it’s ever been. You can almost throw out the seed numbers because everyone is evenly matched.”

Mary Wise, Florida Head Coach

On the SEC Tournament: “Everybody goes in 0-0 and it’s not a matter of playing great for two and a half months, it’s a matter of playing great for three days. That’s why everyone goes into it with newfound energy.”

Aury Cruz, Florida Outside Hitter

“We’re going to take the tournament one match at a time, like we’ve done all year. We reached one of our goals by winning the SEC, and now we’re focused on our next goal, which is to win the SEC Tournament.”

Georgia Head Coach Mary Buczek

“We’ve been playing some really good volleyball going back to our LSU match and we’ve worked really hard to earn some of those wins. That same effort and determination will be key in our match against Tennessee, because it’s a pretty even match.

“I anticipate this to be a great match. We know Tennessee leads the conference in digs per game and also has a lot of offensive weapons. We’ll have to give a better effort than we did in our loss at Tennessee.”

Jona Braden, Kentucky Head Coach

“Not only is SEC Volleyball growing and expanding in it’s competitiveness, it’s fun for the athletes. The athletes are seeing a level of volleyball with complexity and competitiveness that this conference hasn’t seen before. I also want to thank South Carolina for the warm sunny weather. Our congratulations goes out to the eight teams, their coaches and staffs. There is nothing better than post-season play. Just to see the talent that will be showed here this weekend is rewarding in itself. This tournament provides a great experience for the athletes and the teams. It is an honor and a privilege to be here.”

On playing Florida: “Florida is an incredible team. We just played Florida in Lexington on Sunday and our players are excited about facing them again. We have nothing but respect for the Gators. We will put our best foot forward and fight to the bitter end. The task ahead of us is not daunting, but it is a honor and a privilege.”

Sissy Canfield, Kentucky Middle Blocker

“I’m really excited to be here. Post-season play is such an exciting time. The SEC has been such an extremely competitive conference this year.”

Fran Flory, LSU Head Coach

“This is what you work for all season. The SEC Tournament is a great event. We’ve had some upsets this year and we’ve seen some great matches. I just hope that people recognize how great an event this tournament is going to be.

On Florida: “Florida has the track record and experience but they’ve struggled this year with some adversity that they haven’t really faced before, losing some players to injury. The athleticism in seeds two through eight has increased greatly and I won’t be surprised if some upsets take place this weekend. Some teams are going to come out and surprise people this weekend.

Kim Hudson Christopher, South Carolina Head Coach

“We are excited to be hosting this tournament. We’re glad to be here and we’ve had a very exciting season. We started off well and we had some ups and downs as the season has progressed, but that is expected with such a young team.”

“The single elimination format and the fact that we are all now fighting for a NCAA Tournament bid certainly adds pressure, but this is a great way to prepare for the NCAA Tournament. It is a good way to look forward and to have closure on the season.”

On hosting the SEC Tournament: “USC has done a phenomenal job of keeping me from having to worry about the logistics of hosting this tournament. I can’t really stress out about some of the logistics and still be able to devote my time to preparing our team. USC has done the best job that I’ve ever been around to keep me from worrying about that stuff.”

“I hope the home crowd will provide an advantage for us – it is something that could help us. Our team is very young and I’m not sure if they really know how much the Alabama-South Carolina rivalry has grown over the past few years. We’ve had some great players recently with a very tough mental attitude and that has made the rivalry between Alabama and South Carolina grow very intense. We will have our hands full with Alabama but I hope the crowd gives us a little edge.”

On being the sixth seed: “Of all the teams in the conference, I think South Carolina has played Florida the most. It seems every time we turn around, we have to face Florida. I’m just happy to be in the tournament. I’m happy with our seeding and there is a lot of parity in this year’s tournament. This weekend will not be boring in any match. There will be all kinds of surprises in this tournament because every team is so evenly matched.”

Sarah Morgan, South Carolina Outside Hitter

“I’m excited to be hosting the tournament in our home gym. We are excited to play Alabama. They eliminated us last year so hopefully we can cause a different outcome this year.”

Rob Patrick, Tennessee Head Coach

“We have eight great teams in this tournament. This conference has become increasingly competitive, especially in the past two years. I’ve been in this conference for seven years and when I first came here, it was easily the top tier winning against the bottom tier. Now, if you don’t come ready to play. You’re not going to do well. You won’t get a break in the match.”

“I’m really excited about our conference’s preseason schedule. All of the teams in the SEC faced some really good teams from across the nation and gained some impressive wins. I’m very excited about the tournament starting tomorrow. This is probably the strongest tournament with teams that I’ve ever seen.”

On facing Georgia in the first round: “This season we had no surprised against Georgia. We played eight games against UGA this season, five at their place and three at ours. We had a good crowd when we played them in Knoxville and had the momentum on our side. They have good players that can get the job done and it will be a very close match. We are two very evenly matched teams. Whoever will be more consistent with serving, passing, and hitting will come away with a victory. The team that can control those factors will get the momentum will get the win.”

Julie Knytych, Tennessee Setter

“I’m really excited to be here. We are really lucky to be able to play in this tournament. I’m really excited to play this weekend. We get to play some great teams and some of these matches will show a really exciting rematch of some close conference games from this season.”

On facing Georgia in the first round: “Whoever wants the game more will win that match. We were evenly matched during the season and we are evenly matched going into tomorrow’s first round. Whoever comes to play, whoever wants the match the most will come away with a victory. We split the season series 1-1 and both matches were close.”