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May 4, 2005

Ohio State Head Coach Pete Hanson
“Obviously we’re excited to be here. This is a great opportunity for us. It’s been four years since we’ve been at one of these, and it’s nice to be back. We’re looking forward to the challenge of playing the number one team in the country. It’s going to be fun competing in this environment. You’ve got four of the best teams in the country playing volleyball, and it’s going to be a great tournament.”

(On the atmosphere of the NCAA Championships as opposed to the regular season)
“Clearly, the stakes are higher. You try to put your team in these situations throughout the course of the season, and they experience a little bit of that in the conference playoffs where the stakes go upwards. We had the pressure last year of being the number one seed, and we didn’t make it past the semis. You always remind the guys that those are the experiences you want to draw on and learn from and get better at. We don’t have everybody from that team with us this year, we’ve had new faces join us, and that becomes a real challenge to integrate the new parts with the old parts and then getting through where they get the experience and confidence and ability to play through those situations and tough spots. The question is – how do we have our youngsters deal with it? You just try to keep them relaxed and focused on things like it’s still a game of volleyball. The net’s still eight feet high. The court is still 30×30. We just have to do the things we’re capable of doing. We can’t control what Pepperdine is going to do, or Penn State or UCLA. We have to be in control of what Ohio State can do. That has to be our focus or mantra tomorrow night or Saturday if we get that far.”

(Assessing Pepperdine and Sean Rooney)
“You can certainly start there and more than likely end there. But clearly they’ve got five other guys. Jonathan Winder has come in and had a huge impact as their starting setter. Andy Hein’s game has gone to another level. John Parfitt is playing well. John Mayer set for them last year and now is hitting opposite, I think he got second-team All-MPSF. That says a lot about the quality of his game when he can change positions and still have a great year like that. And of course, Tom Hulse, their other middle blocker. They’re solid from top to bottom. We’ll have to be hopefully as solid and scrape together points when we’ve got those opportunities. But clearly, Sean Rooney is the guy that stirs the drink for them.”

(On drawing on the experience from 2000 when the team upset Pepperdine and faced UCLA in the final)
“That was a whole different group of guys. None of those guys are still around. We’ve tried to stay in the present with these kids. These are the guys who put in the time and effort in the last 3-6 months. If some of those guys were in town and could stop in and talk about it, we would have done it. One of the juniors from that team stopped in, and I think he imparted a few words to the guys. The biggest thing is to go out there and be relaxed and play and make the best of our opportunities.”

Ohio State Junior Outside Hitter Mark Greaves
“We’re really excited to be here. This is my third season but my first chance to play in the Final Four, so I’m very excited about the opportunity. I’m looking forward to an overall good team effort out there. We’re excited to play Pepperdine and we’ll just give it the best we can.”

(On playing in Pauley Pavilion)
“I’ve never had a chance to play here before. It looks pretty comparable to our gym at home. It’s a bigger facility, and we’ve had a chance to play in bigger arenas this year, like at Ball State, different teams in our conference. I don’t see it as being too much of a problem to adjust to the atmosphere out there. It will be a little bit different with the aura and the different things that go with being around a championship. Playing on a sport court will be a little bit different. Most of us haven’t done that in a while. The size of the arena should not be too much of a problem to get used to.”

“There may not be a whole lot of people out there who believe we can do it, but I think this team believes we can do it, and we’re going to go out there and give it our best shot. Pepperdine being the number one seed, the odds may not be in our favor right now, but we’ll go out there and do what we can.”

Ohio State Freshman Setter Daniel Mathews
“We’ve been working hard all season. We came out here prepared, and we knew it was going to be a challenge, but I think that with our hard work all season, we’re prepared to meet it. That’s what we’re out here to do.”

(On Pepperdine’s Sean Rooney)
“Having a player like Sean Rooney brings a certain dynamic to a team that you might not otherwise have. He’s a go-to guy and carries a lot of the load for Pepperdine. But at the same time, we have some quality players on our side of the net who will have to step it up a little bit and carry that load for us.”

(On whether the team is just happy to be here)
“It’s been a long season. I certainly would not say that it’s enough just to say we’re glad to be here. This is a goal we set out to make at the beginning of the year, and now that we’re here, we’re going to do our best to make the most out of it. I speak for the whole team when I say that.”

Pepperdine Head Coach Marv Dunphy
“Obviously, we’re happy to be here. We’ve had a pretty good year. In the league that we’re in, in the old days, there were two groups of teams – teams you can handle and teams you have to prep for. Now, as far as our staff’s concerned, we prep for every team, much more than we have in the past. We did a pretty good job of going from match to match, and we hope it continues. We qualified by winning the league to host the MPSF tournament and get a bye. We went one at a time and we’re here, and hopefully we’ll continue that.”

(On comparing this team to teams past)
“Every team every year establishes its own identity. This team has its own identity. We’ve won lots of close games and lots of close matches. That’s a sign of a good team, a tough team, when you win close matches over time. We played five or six that went five, and we won all of those. We did it by siding out. We’ve been a pretty good side out team.”

(On freshman Jonathan Winder)
“He was good coming in, and he got better. We’ve had a bit of history of young players coming in and carrying big loads. We don’t redshirt too many kids. A few years back, Sean (Rooney) was in the same boat. So was George Roumain. As a setter, Jonathan has had an even bigger load than a hitter. He’s carrying a big load, and he’s carried it well.”

(On having a sense of urgency to win this year)
“We know how many championships we’ve won and when we’ve been here and not won. I’m aware of that. I wouldn’t put any more pressure on myself or the team than what’s already there. The pressures I’ve always felt as a coach comes when you’re sitting down and wondering if you’ve done the things you need to do to compete for and win a national championship. Once I’ve done that, I feel okay. Obviously, every red-blooded coach and athlete wants to win it all. I don’t know if urgency is the right word. Once you get to the post-season, everyone wants to win. So put me in that category, I guess.”

Pepperdine Freshman Setter Jonathan Winder
“We had a good year and we’ve been in the positions we wanted to be in. Now we’ve got to take care of business again. It’s another clean slate and everyone is 0-0 now. First team to win two games wins.”

(On the pressures of contributing as a freshman)
“I feel like I fit in pretty well. The coaches haven’t put too much pressure on me, and I don’t feel that much pressure to get a lot of things done because we have so many other players who can do so much.”

(On adjusting college play)
“I’ve learned so much from the coaches. You’ve got to know the opposing team so much more than you would in high school. The problems I’ve had throughout the year are trying to make a perfect set or a perfect play where I was the one siding out instead of letting my teammates like Sean or Andy side out. I’ve had to learn just to make an easy set, a hittable ball for them.”

Pepperdine Junior Middle Blocker Andy Hein
“We’re happy to be here. We had a really good year. There are three other really good teams in the tournament with us. I think that whoever comes out on top will be the best team.”

(On the differences between this team and past teams)
“I think the team unity is especially good this year. It’s the way we pull together at the end of games and we play together, make the big plays. It’s not just one guy making the big play for us. We’ll have five guys on the court touching the ball in one rally. The whole team comes together and pulls together. We rely on each other more so. That’s what we have to do in close games.”

Pepperdine Senior Outside Hitter Sean Rooney
“We’ve trained hard this season and worked hard in the regular season to win the conference. We played well also to win the conference tournament. At this point, we’re just hoping our training will take us through playing against these tough teams, and we’ll be ready for them.”

(On having a sense of urgency to win a national title as a senior)
“Anytime you come to the Final Four you want it just as bad as anyone does. This is my last chance at it, and I’d like nothing more than to go out with a championship. But I want it for all of our guys, our whole team, regardless of what class they are.”