U.S. Women’s Olympic Indoor Volleyball Team
Press Conference Quotes * July 28, 2008
University of California-Berkeley
(A special thank you to the University of California-Berkeley athletic media relations staff for its assistance in today’s press conference.)
NOTE: The U.S. Olympic Women's Indoor Volleyball Team is currently training in California for sea-level training prior to leaving for the Olympic Games on Aug. 1, 2008. Team USA will hold an intrasquad scrimmage at University of California-Berkeley's Haas Pavilion at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 31. Tickets are $5 and will go on sale at 4 p.m. the day of the scrimmage at Haas Pavilion. After the scrimmage, an autograph session will take place for the fans. For additional information on the scrimmage, click here.
Coach “Jenny” Lang Ping
We’re very glad to have our team training at Berkeley, the last training before we go to Beijing. Our team is doing very well right now. We set our goals and hopefully we can have a great performance in China. We have a very experienced team. Our team has very good physical conditioning and also they know each other well. We don’t have lots of time like China or Cuba – we’ve been training almost two months together. We’ve had pretty good improvement, so hopefully we’ll have a good tournament.
On which countries figure to send the best volleyball teams to Beijing:
This Olympic Games is very tough – six or eight teams are really close. There are three or four teams that have been winning most of the last four years, they’re pretty consistent: Brazil, China, Italy and Russia have been alternating winning different titles. Also Cuba, the team’s got a whole year together. There’s also Poland, and you never heard about Serbia, and they’re good. So I think it’s going to be very, very tough, even pool play. For the last Olympics, the top three, I was guessing pretty correct, but this year, I don’t know. It’s a very strong tournament.
On the reaction in China when she travels there as the U.S. coach (Coach Lang Ping won a gold medal with China as a player at the 1984 Games and has been the U.S. coach since 2005):
We took our second team to play in China last March, to let our girls feel Chinese culture and feel more comfortable for how the fans reacted to me. But most of the fans in China, they understand much more than four years ago, when I was first taking the U.S. National Team job. Except when we play against China, the other games we play, I’m pretty confident they’ll cheer for us. I feel like probably [Beijing] is going to be the second hometown for us. For myself, there’s only one thing: I try to focus on my team and coaching. That’s my own situation I have to deal with.
Logan Tom (Salt Lake City, Utah)
On the team’s progress during preparations for the Olympic Games:
The past couple of months, it’s been trials about who’s going to make the team. Now that we’ve actually made the team, we’re becoming a tighter unit. Defensive-wise, that’s a big factor. Two months, it’s a long time, so you take the experience from there, what we have done well and what we haven’t done well, and we hopefully take all that, learn from it and take it into the tournament.
Ogonna Nnamani (Bloomington, Ill.)
On the team’s confidence going into the Olympic Games:
Our confidence level is really high. We feel really prepared. We’ve been going through situations in practice, just trying to make ourselves really comfortable before we head over there, trying to identify ways to keep improving. Finding ways to get better is the most important thing right now with the short period of time. Everybody’s real excited to get over there and show the world what we’ve been working on for the past four years, so it’s a great opportunity for our team.
Jennifer Joines (Milpitas, Calif.)
On the emotions going into her first Olympic Games:
Of course I’m really excited. This is something I’ve been dreaming about since I started playing volleyball. It’s a great chance for our team to show – the fact that we’re going to China and that Jenny’s so popular in China – what I’m really hoping is that there will be some media coverage so that the youth that’s playing in the United States has a chance to see what our Olympic team is like and the competition that’s out there in the world.
On traveling in China with Coach “Jenny” Lang Ping:
When you go into a gym, there are some places that volleyball is just a loved sport, and I think China is one of them, and I think Jenny is a huge reason why China likes volleyball so much. The last time I played there, in Ningbo, the entire third balcony of the gym was filled, up to the very top with signs and pictures about our coach. It’s a neat experience. I’ve always said she’s the Michael Jordan of volleyball.
Nicole Davis (Stockton, Calif.)
On how her collegiate experience at USC helped prepare her for the Olympic team: Pac-10 volleyball is just a good, competitive place to be. I played against Logan, I played against Ogonna, I played against countless teammates that I’m playing with now, so I think it says a lot for the conference and the universities.
On what she is looking forward to most at the Olympic:
I’m definitely looking forward to the Opening Ceremonies, and then I’m looking forward to seeing where this team ends up. We’ve had a long growth process over the last four years and we’re in a really good place right now as a team, and so I can’t wait for the end of the tunnel, to see what’s going to happen and just enjoy the experience.