By Domenic Allegra, Staff Writer
The following transcript is from the Post-Game Press Conference from the Mason Men’s Volleyball Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) Tournament Game on April 19, 2018.
Mason Coach Jay Hosack’s Statement following the game:
Coach Hosack: First of all, hats of to Princeton. Sam Shweisky, is like a brother to me, and his team played extremely well tonight. I shudder to think what they will look like on Saturday; that was an absolute masterpiece that they put together, we brought everything we had and they just had us, they had our number, and you know, I look at the value of work we put together this season, I look at all the accomplishment and all the accolades, and obviously this isn’t the way we wanted to end the season, but I could not be more proud of my guys and my team. I could not be more proud of my staff, I could not be more proud of the fans, we have the best fans in the country, these guys came out every single week and supported us. We put together a string of really good matches the entire year, and my boys had to deal with a lot of adversity, like a lot of teams do, we’re not the only ones out there but they just never gave up, and I could not be more proud of them and the way that they represented Mason Nation, in the way that they represented this program, so the future’s looking bright. I know the seniors are bummed, but you left it in really good hands with the young guys, so we’re happy about that.
Fourth Estate (IVE): How do you think you can overcome this loss?
CH: Bad thing is I have a bad case of coaches’ amnesia. I don’t even know what you are talking about. How do I get over it? There are a lot of teams in the country that wish they had an opportunity like us tonight and you know I’m bummed, don’t get me wrong. I’m a coach, I want to win everytime, but you can’t win every game, you can’t win every match, and you can’t win every set, you’re not going to win any sets 25-0. You just put together a game plan and you gotta execute. I’m super disappointed and bummed for the seniors because I knew that they wanted to have two titles, but they kind of do. They earned one in 2016, an outright title, and then this year, we won the regular season title, and got a chance to host, and bring it here into our gym and that’s pretty cool, so yeah, I already bounced back. I’m not sad, I’m not disappointed, I’m fine.
IVE: Do you think the seniors will have a lasting impact on the underclassmen?
CH: Yeah, I sure hope so, they lead by example, they didn’t beat their chests, they showed the young guys what it takes to be successful here, and the beauty is that even though we put in all that hard work, it still didn’t come easy to get to this point, and we didn’t win tonight. So the young guys, if I recruited the right guys, this is going to sting a little bit, and it should, it should mean something, and I’ll probably see them in the locker room, and they’ll be some tears, and a lot of bummed faces, and I’ll look at them all and say ‘hey, if you feel like this right now, you’re allow to feel it, you’re an athlete, but when you’re done with the evening, store it away somewhere in your body, in your brain, in your mind, and keep that as motivation next year, when we get into the practice gym, and when you’re getting ready to go into matches, this should be motivating more than hurting, so yeah, I think the seniors have left a real nice impression for the young guys.
IVE: Do you think the team will be able to grow coming off of this loss and take it in a positive direction instead of a negative one?
CH: Well, luckily we got 9 months or 8 months till we have to worry about that right? Most athletes, at least the ones in my program, know how I feel, you don’t really lose, you just learn. Tonight, we learned that we were not responding quick enough to what we needed to and making the calls that we should’ve. It’s one of those things that you look back on it, we can nitpick every little thing and say, ‘oh it was this and oh it was that’. The reality of the match is it all comes down to serve, and pass, and attacking, and tonight we served I thought pretty well. We only had, what? Eleven service errors in for games? That’s pretty good. If you were to tell me I would have had 11 service errors before tonight, I would have said I’ll take it any day of the week, but they had 16 attack errors and we had 32, they had 16 blocks, we had 11, they had a lot less digs than we did, but we just didn’t capitalize. So that’s it, we had one of our guys that normally hitting in the 400’s, first team all-conference, and he hit -158 tonight. He’s a sophomore, he didn’t know any better, he went out and swang hard and tried to keep his team in the game and it just wasn’t his night. He’s had matches where his is hitting over 500, if he had hit over 500 tonight, I would have guaranteed you that we’d win that game, but what are you gonna do? I look down my bench and put the next guy in, and I put travis in. Travis hit 300. That’s awesome. So guy got a chance to play tonight and play something new, so we’re okay with that.
IVE: What do you think a lot of the underclassmen can learn from this if they haven’t experienced this type of loss?
CH: Hopefully they learn they like hosting this rather than you know going on the road traveling. I know the young guys, a) wanted to play a lot more than they did, we had some younger guys playing, but there’s a couple of guys that were on the bench behind them, and I know they really wanted to get on the court, but the reality is you don’t just get to go on the court because you show up and put on the jersey correctly. So, they’ve got to get in and do the work, a lot of big recruits coming in next year, it’s not gonna get any easier. I tell these kids all the time, one of the best things about coming to mason, is that you’re going to play with some of the best people in the country, but the worst thing about coming to mason is that some of them are going to be in your position. So with that being said, these young guys, they look to guys like Christian [Malias] and guys like Brian [Negron] and guys like Johnny [Gomez], and they go, ‘that’s the level I have to get to in order to be a) on the court and b) successful. It’s a pretty high bar that they’ve got to get to.
Jerome Boettcher, Assistant Athletic Director: (To Christian Malias) Christian, just talk about this event, I know it just ended, but just how special a season was this? Coach was talking about what you were able to accomplish in the regular season and you have a little bit of time to reflect in the next couple days but just how special the year was this?
Christian Malias: For me personally, this was a great year, one of my favorites, it obviously didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but we really did some amazing things. We had some great awards given to our team and we fought through a lot, and came together as a unit. This was a team that if you ask me two years ago, if I ever thought we would ever be this close, I probably would have told you ‘no way’. The guys stuck together and we believed what Jay had planned for us and we had a lot of fun off the court and on the court, I just love these guys and I think this was a special group. Special group, special season, it’s a good way to go out.
Boettcher: For Christian or Coach, what does it say about the depth of this league, Princeton and Harvard playing in the final on Sunday, and what does it say about the balance?
CH: If you want to talk about the depth on the team before we talk about the depth of the conference. The beauty of this program is that we put in a lot of guys in various times throughout the year, it was like reloading a gun with the same bullet, but it wasn’t like we were downgrading and downshifting. We had guys that would step in on a given night and if you look at what we did last week with Harvard, we put in all the guys that didn’t get much or any at all playing time when they beat Harvard before, that’s pretty good. For the EIVA in general, what it says is that the conference is getting better as a whole, the administrations, they are the ones who are responsible for helping these coaches be able to go out and recruit, be able to have staff, be able to put together a good schedule that’s nationally focused, so that they and kids can go out and see their program play. So for us, this conference is taking a huge step forward, now the next step for this conference is we all as a group have to go out and beating the other teams in the other conferences. That’s what Penn State has been able to do all these years, and they’ve gone over there and they’ve beat some of those teams on a regular basis which is why they’re getting these rankings. This year a bunch of us went up there and only a couple of us beat Division 1 teams from the Midwest, or the West Coast. That’s the next step for the conference, we start doing that and all of a sudden this conference is going to be in the hunt for an at-large berth, so rather than us being done tonight, we’d maybe outchance them at getting an at-large and still being going to LA and playing in the final 6.
Boettcher: Do you think that’s far off, to get the conference to that point?
CH: I’d say three to five years, would be my guess, if I’m a gambling man. I wouldn’t go all in, but I’d match the pot. But, there’s some great news coming up pretty quickly about a new program that I’m really exciting about, there’s great news about the athletic directors are starting to step up and add full time staff to some of these guys. There’s great news about budgets being increased for some of these schools; those are the things that when you look at the Loyola Chicago’s of the world, before they were national champions twice in a row, they were exactly like us, exactly like us. It’s a good program with a good name, good location, good education, but what they did is they started funding that program correctly and they got them two full-time assistant coaches and they gave them a budget to be able to go and travel and recruit kids from around the country and a budget to go out and play teams from around the country. All of a sudden that program, started picking up these top recruits from some places and that’s what gave them the opportunity to win national championships. This program is on the same trajectory without question. This program, I had a one, a three, and a five year goal, when I took the job here. So far I have accomplished everything that I wrote down on the first three years. In my fifth year, I said that we were going to win a national title. That’s 2020, so I’m pretty excited about the direction.
CM: I think the support that we’ve gotten so far is increasing and it’s increasing every year. I’m for anyone who want to promote men’s volleyball, in EIVA or anywhere in the country. If you have never seen men’s volleyball, it’s a really exciting sport. I do think the next step for our program is; we don’t need fancy jumbotrons or anything, I really think we need full-time assistant coaches. That’s the foundation to any great program, it starts with their coaching staff, and I think if we can get that for our team, it’ll do wonders. I do feel Mason has supported us and they’re going to continue to support us, but unfortunately we can’t comeback with an EIVA title to show them we want some hardware, but I hope Mason continues to support us.
IVE: Christian, you’ve had a long journey here at Mason, how would you say you have left your mark on the underclassmen in the locker room?
CM: I hope I’ll be remembered as someone who went all out and didn’t take no for an answer, and fought to the last swing. We always talked about the three seniors leaving here with no regrets, and I mean I missed that last overpass, and I hit it in the net, but I swung, it’s not like I tipped it, I hope they remember that and I hope they remember that college is hard, it’s not easy, I went through some struggles, but I kept focusing and I had fun but also did what I needed to do, it scrapped by the skin of my teeth, and I always put the team first, that’s how I’ll want to be remembered.