This upcoming weekend marks an opportunity for Coach Jim Moore's team – a coming out party where the spiking is accepted and the service is unpredictable at best. With a match against the top ranked Stanford Cardinal on Sunday afternoon – the first contest between teams polling in the first two spots to ever take place in Eugene – you might be interested in the team, but not know where to begin. Consider this a primer on the team with arguably the best chance at a title run this fall.
Note: the questions themselves are paraphrased for clarity.
Is there anything different added into the Stanford game because they're your only loss this year?
Jim Moore: Good question, but no. Everyone's good, and the reality is that we have to worry about Cal first, so there isn't anything extra. Cal is a team that has given us all kinds of trouble over the years, so we have to take care of Cal and then Stanford shows up. I'd be lying if I said there's nothing there – it's one vs two and those kinds of things – but we can't worry about whether it's one against two; we have to take care of what we have to do to beat Stanford, and what we have to do for each individual play.
Is there the possibility of Cal being a trap game?
JM: I think we've handled so called trap games very well: we had two weeks of road trips with the Airzona schools and the mountain schools. I think they handled that very well, and that's because we're thinking about the first play against Cal. It sounds cliché and Chip Kell-ish, but you have to take care of one play at a time, not even one day at a time. I think that's why we've been more consistent this year. I don't know - we're better - but we're more consistent.
Did the team or the staff have any goals going into the season?
JM: No, and I mean that seriously. There was no goal. I had one goal, and that was to take it one play at a time, and I knew if we did that we'd be more consistent and thus far that's what we've done. My goal has been to take it one play at a time and not worry about what happens if and what happens when, and that's really been my goal.
Have you seen an increased response and awareness around the community in line with the rise of the program?
JM: I think so, but...we kind of got shafted two years ago not getting in the tournament, but basically we've been in the tournament 7 years in a row and we've had some really good crowds. I will say the students this year have been awesome. That's been great stuff, and the students against Washington were unbelievably good. When we won set one, that may be the loudest reaction I've heard in any match, and I've been in basketball games - it was loud. Students this year have been different for sure.
Is what you see from the Pit Crew a normal occurrence around the country?
JM: We probably draw more students than anyone in the country right now. A couple Big 10 schools might be close, but if we continue where we are...a couple years ago we led in student attendance and we were right at 1,000. Right now, we're way over that and that's been a big difference, and it's been great.
How does the impact of the student section compare to that of a basketball game?
JM: It's more relevant for a volleyball match, because it's not as common. When we went on the road for two weeks, we had to learn to provide our own energy - it helps a lot when there are four or five thousand people providing that energy...For us, it's a huge, huge difference.
What's it like to be the #2 ranked volleyball team alongside the #2 ranked football team?
JM: It's awesome. It says a lot about the direction of this university, this athletic department, the athletic director and, there's no lie, that football staff's as good as they come. But, I can't tell you how much fun it is to have teams doing what we're doing – it's a lot of fun. I just think it's sort of symbiotic that we can get together and create synergy, and there's a lot of excitement within the department and within the university when you have these things happening.
Would that be a different relationship if this were a program with a longstanding tradition?
JM: I think tradition's a big deal, don't get me wrong, but Chip actually said something really interesting the other day: When these freshmen were running around in 2006 and 2007, we were getting in the national spotlight at that time and the freshmen were 12 or 13 at that time. What we think of as tradition...the people who are coming, we've been good forever as far as they know. He said that the other day and he's absolutely right - the tradition's in the eye of the beholder. (For) The kids who are here right now, Oregon Volleyball's been good for a long time. It's good to have that long tradition, but I don't think it's as relevant as people think.
Football and basketball have the uniforms, what do volleyball recruits talk about?
JM: I'm standing in it, and our locker room is just beyond anything you can have. The facilities in the entire department are second-to-none. It's the facilities, I think it's a gorgeous place to go to school, and academically it's becoming better and better every single year. It's no lie – we're on TV a lot more – but football has put us in the spotlight and people say, "Well this is kind of a cool place to go."