Kristina Hernandez (00:00:00):
I think, like I said, I, I think the talent level is amazing. I think the best thing it could probably tell young players and just cuz we hear stuff when we're recruiting and because we've talked about it from a situational standpoint, I like you've gotta learn both sides of it. You've gotta learn how to block and you've gotta learn how to defend, even if it's not, even if I'm not 6, 4, 6, 2, you know, you could still, like I said, you could still be five, seven and still be really good. Even if you just know how to move and set up your defense without ever blocking. So I think not pigeonholing into like, this is what I'm gonna do when I think I'm gonna get to college or doing the same thing with every single partner you play with and always playing with the same partner. I think that's, that's where people get tripped up.
Kristina Hernandez (00:00:45):
Like we have, I think one of the things we found when juniors come and I, I know we all have the same problems. They play all these juniors events and they always have the same partner because they get to pick their partner. And I, I think that they struggle when they get into a college environment because they don't get to pick their partner. They are, they have to work in a team environment and their, their first choice is not always the best choice for the entire lineup. And I think that's hard for a lot of them. They really struggle.
Mark Burik (00:01:20):
Mark Burik I am going to take you through an hour of development knowledge and picking the brain of a fantastic coach. Somebody who is four, maybe five time coach of the year. Uh, she's had an, an indoor tenure. She transitioned from indoor and is now one of the most successful coaches in beach volleyball. She is currently ranked third all time in NCAA wins, uh, with her university. And this is the head coach of Stetson university, Kristina Hernandez. Welcome to the show.
Kristina Hernandez (00:02:01):
Thanks for having me.
Mark Burik (00:02:03):
Yeah, of course. Doing some research on you just to get named coach of the year. Once is a cool, great honor. You've done it five times. Is that right?
Kristina Hernandez (00:02:13):
Four times, four times.
Mark Burik (00:02:14):
Four times. It just
Kristina Hernandez (00:02:16):
Could have been five it's. Okay. We'll do four
Mark Burik (00:02:17):
yeah. Rob. I understand. It's
Kristina Hernandez (00:02:20):
OK. It's alright. We all do at some point. Yeah, it's four. Yeah. The first one was cool. Trying to remember. It might have been in 15. I think it was in 15 and I coached indoor for such a long time and you know, I had won a title with horo when I was there, but I still never, you know, never got coach of the year or anything like that. It seems, it always seems like such a far, far reach far thing.
Mark Burik (00:02:40):
And do you even pay attention to it as a coach? Yeah. Like so focused on yourself, winning like your teams and your girls and your personality. So it's yeah. What other people think of me? Like we got our own family. Right, right.
Kristina Hernandez (00:02:50):
Yeah. So it's one of those things, like when it happens like, oh, that's like, that's awesome. That was cool. And now it's fun. I mean, now it's fun. You know, anytime our, our team is doing really well and they're getting the, their accolades for the conference and that, you know, and that pops up towards the end. I, I take it more as a compliment from my peers in our conference that they respect what it is that we're doing, you know, and what we've done, that we can kind of keep doing it every year or doing it a little bit better. So now it's awesome. And you know, it's always a good feeling to kind of just be recognized by our conference cuz we vote and we all do that and you, you know how that can go sometimes you never really know. But so yeah, I'm, I'm appreciative of how it goes with our conference, but yeah, it's, it's nice to have it on the resume there at the beginning. It's not, not a bad thing to have. So I enjoy, I try to enjoy it as it comes, but you know, I, I think we enjoy when our kids get recognized and honored probably more.
Mark Burik (00:03:48):
Yeah, I would. I, I'm kind of predicting that, you know, like you have your family every day, you're focused on how do I help this kid get better? How do I help this kid get through like schoolwork and, and practices and you see the work that they put in that sometimes we forget our own work, uh, and, and what we're doing behind the scenes and you don't do it for recognition. Mm-hmm , you know, you, you do it cuz you have a desire to help and, and probably a desire to succeed. Yeah. Well, when you are voting for that, because all the coaches in the conference vote, right? Yeah.
Kristina Hernandez (00:04:20):
Mark Burik (00:04:21):
I have a question. What do you take into account when you are voting? Uh, is it how they act on court? Is it just the success of their team? Is it how much their team has changed that year? What do you, when you're voting for that? And you're trying to think like whose name am I gonna put on that, on this list? Or is, or is it just your buddy in the conference that you like to hang out with in between
Kristina Hernandez (00:04:46):
yeah, I mean, I think we're all pretty, you know, we we've all been in the same conference for a while, so I think we're all pretty close, but like for instance, like I, I think Florida Gulf coast in our conference had a lot of transformation this year. You know, I thought that they really grew and got better and, and really were competitive within the conference outside of the conference, you know? So that was an easy one because, you know, I, I felt like Chris deserved it, you know, because they kind of went from, they just kind of, again, they just elevated their program so much within that kind of that snapshot. And they had a, a lot of new players and younger players and kind of a mix of old and new. So, you know, it was, it was nice to see that, but I think it's always trying to look for that is like, who has really, like you said, transformed from one year to the next and, and maybe not done it with, you know, a loaded senior class.
Kristina Hernandez (00:05:35):
And like I said, he kind of had a sprinkle of really young kids. And so we know that they're gonna continue to get better and be really good next year as well. So I think all that's exciting, it's, you know, what can, how you kind of keep reinventing your team from year in and year out and how you're constantly changing and how much better you get. And, and also he kind of does it solo. So I have a ton of respect for Chris a lot. He does it by himself and that's hard enough. I complain about my one assistant. Oh, we having one I'm sure we all do, but it's like, he's running around, you know, these big matches and top 20 matches and he is he's coaching three courts at the same time and that's, that's hard in itself. Yeah. So I can't even imagine from a game prep to film prepping. I mean, we, we do a lot of hours by, you know, just me and my, you know, we have a volunteer who are very fortunate, but it's a lot of work for one person. So I, I respect what they, what they were able to do this year in the conference.
Mark Burik (00:06:28):
Nice. That's yeah. It's always, it's always fun thinking like what, what do coaches expect the most? And to me, I don't know when you said it, when you said, you know, it's not a senior loaded class. If I were to look at a senior loaded class, that would be like the most successful to me, I would say that coach now deserves, uh, every accolade because when they came in, they weren't that good. Mm-hmm, that, that group of four, you know, I always kind of look at the way our country is run. And I say like, you give one guy four years to make massive change. And we barely give like college football coaches four years. Yeah. You know, sometimes it's like three or four. Okay. If you couldn't do it in four or five, then you're out, you know, but to do it for a country is just wild. Yeah. And I forgot where, where I was going with this, but oh, senior class yeah. And seeing, yeah. Like does a younger successful team, uh, speak to the success of the coach or the quality of the coaching? Or does it, is it speak to the recruiting and is that just an asset that the coach has that you're like, you know what he deserves coach of the year because he was a great recruiter.
Kristina Hernandez (00:07:41):
Yeah. It's tricky, you know, especially with COVID and all these, you know, we've got all these fifth years now and that that's about to be cycled out here within, I think one more year or so, but you know, you had a lot of teams that had six, seven, you know, fifth year seniors this year and the year before, and they're a little stacked and they're overloaded. So it's, it's like, yeah. It's like, we kind of, we expect them to win it. It's a, it's a tricky thing. You know, like you take grand canyon who got, you know, national coach of the year, Kristen, you know, she had, I think a couple of transfers, nothing massive. And you know, she lost a couple that transferred in herself, but you know, they had, they had a great season and they kind of were mixed with having some upperclassmen and some new freshmen and some sophomore.
Kristina Hernandez (00:08:25):
So, you know, they made a, they made a name for themselves and kind of made a dent. So I, I don't know. I, I think it's just, for me, it's always more of the surprise, like who really did something that was just a little bit unexpected because I think sometimes we always expect the same teams to do well. He's always expects, you know, and I, I think the way the game is growing, that's gonna happen less and less. I mean, you look at Georgia state with all the upsets they had in the championship and that's fun. Like that's why basketball is so entertaining because, you know, it's it, the talent level is becoming, you know, more even, and, and everybody's a really good coach and everybody that there knows what they're doing. And you know, now you're just trying to see who can, you know, kind of keep their nerves there at the end and, and finish those matches. So I feel like when the, when the sport first started, it was just like, yep. That that's, you know, it's UC, USC and UCLA were like on an island over here with pep kind of by themselves. And they were just untouchable. And I remember our first
Mark Burik (00:09:27):
Everybody and, you know, the whole crop of, of coaches, like currently there's I, what is it? 80%? Uh, maybe 70% of the NCAA coaches are like current or former NCAA AVP players. Yeah. It's like this whole crop is, has just been pro and yeah, the girls that they're training are gonna be able to wipe the floor with them because of, uh, just like the coaching they've had. Mm-hmm , you know, all those players, they barely had coaches, you know, all of us, people are age, like the coaches who are leading right now, it probably took us a while to find a beach volleyball coach if we even did. Yeah. So now the next generation of coaches is gonna be having trained as a player since they were 10, you know, every single day and the evolution that's gonna come in 10 years, it's gonna be sick. I think. No,
Kristina Hernandez (00:10:16):
I know. Yeah. You know, we're, we are, we're watching club practices right now and there's, you know, 10 and 12 year olds over here practicing. I'm like, I wasn't even thinking about that one, one of your 10 it's, like what, uh, you know, and they're training with like Patty DOD. And it's like, okay, I'm sure by the time you get in the next couple of years, you're gonna be pretty good. So it's, it's fun. And I think the sports is gonna keep kind of growing and evolving, but I, I think constantly seeing new teams kind of pop up and be surprising is awesome because it just means that we're all getting better and that our sport's gonna get better. There's better teams. The more, the better at the end of the day, the more competition we all have with each other, the better it is for, for our sport in general.
Mark Burik (00:10:57):
Yeah. In, in terms of, of, so get a few questions that just came in mind. I gotta keep 'em in the back of my head, but in terms of the game changing, is there anything or any rules or any formats that you would like to see different? I mean, I know there's constant and for the last 30, 40 years, there's been discussion of the hand setting rules. Mm-hmm that something to come to mind, you don't have to touch on hand setting. Yeah. But is there, is there anything that in this next evolution with so many more players in the game growing for the women in, in our country, is there anything that you would like to see change or, or at least experimented with? You
Kristina Hernandez (00:11:33):
Know, they're always talking about different ways to kind of set up these lineups. Todd is always talking about like doing writer style where it's like, Hey, here's my pair. Who do you wanna put up against them instead of having your typical, like one through five. And this is, you know, this is who we're gonna have in the one C 2, 3, 4, 5.
Mark Burik (00:11:49):
So let's, let's just unwrap that just before we go on. Yes. For somebody who has never seen or witnessed a college, uh, dual, which I think is a sweet name for it, how, how, how does a college match a college dual work? When two teams show up or three or four teams show up to one beach, what happens?
Kristina Hernandez (00:12:08):
So we play with five pairs. So you're one through five seed. You've got your six, which is your exhibition pair, but they don't count. So fairly similar to tennis. Your one, seed's gonna kind of be your highest. There should be your highest level team, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and then you've gotta win three, three of those five matches to be able to win the dual. So a lot of
Mark Burik (00:12:27):
Five matches happen at the same time in one day, or like, you know, scattered.
Kristina Hernandez (00:12:31):
Yeah. A lot of 'em are staggered, you know, we've, we've done both. And obviously the national championship, you know, all five teams play at the same time. And then other places, you know, you can go in two rounds where you're 4, 5, 6 may play first. And then you're 1, 2, 3, so kind of different ways to do that. But I, I think there's a lot of discussion if that's the best way to kind of match up. And I, I think it's more because I think the level, like I said, the levels change so much where like our one and two seeds could probably interchange a lot. And sometimes there are three. I, I think there's a lot of mixing and I do think there's some, one seeds where it's like, yeah, they, they should, that, that is definitely where they should be. But I think once you kind of get down there, there there's a little bit more balance. I do think fives, you know, they're kind of, they're not your lower level team, but they are your, you know, considered your fifth seed within that lineup. They tend to be a little bit younger or maybe a little bit smaller, but are
Mark Burik (00:13:27):
You supposed to game it? Is that, is this like a, is this a coach by coach situation where some people are like, well, yeah, you win the dual. So I gotta game it. Like, I, I will put my one seed as the three seed instead to make sure that I take the bottom, the bottom three.
Kristina Hernandez (00:13:42):
Yeah. So there's a lot of, there's a lot of rules and structure within how to make your lineup. You're supposed to do a viability first. So you have to create your lineup viability, but then there becomes gray area because can move your seeds up one, either one up or one down like within a day or within a weekend. Um, except for conference championships, NCAA championships, you also can insert an alternate anywhere. So if somebody wasn't in the original lineup, when you had your first game of the season, so let's say, you know, we're playing FGCU and we play, we start with one through five and then we've got five kids that are alternates off that weren't in the lineup. I could take one of those alternates and insert them anywhere in the lineup. I could insert them at a one. I could insert them at two.
Kristina Hernandez (00:14:29):
So that gives you flexibility with it. So there's, again, it's supposed to be done from an ethical standpoint where you should have again by viability, but you still have all these ways where you can kind of, you know, when you're, when you're an FSU and a TCU and your kids that are not playing are just as good as the kids that are in the lineup. Your alternates are really key for you. Mm-hmm because they're just as good where I think when you don't have as many players as that, your alternates are not gonna benefit you. There's so many tricky ways. So, so there's more talk about is, is how we line everything up, really the best way to do it. Or as if we walk into a weekend and again, we're gonna play FGCU. I'm like, Hey, who's, here's who we're gonna put for our one seed. And then they base it off of that, who they wanna kind of match up with that team. And you keep going down all the way through. Is that the best way? I don't know. There's like, you know, floaty things around it, but it's not really kind of taken on more life beyond, you know, a few kind of outrageous ideas. So I think for now that's probably the structure structure. It'll it'll stay up.
Mark Burik (00:15:40):
Okay. So you're, you're not allowed, you're not allowed to game. And is, does that call that, that becomes somebody from the outside's judgment? Like, is it complaint based between the coach, like
Kristina Hernandez (00:15:51):
Mark Burik (00:15:52):
Come on and you get, you get the dirty look and then you look at AEE judge
Kristina Hernandez (00:15:56):
. Yeah. So the refs, unfortunately don't do, they don't get involved with it. We can protest it, but you still, you still, you still have to play the match. So we play it. I think people have gotten better about it. I think it, you know, before, when some of the rules first came out, people would still do it. They would do it anyways. Cause king just got slapped on the wrist, um, and nothing would really happen. So it was kinda like, what's the consequence of me doing this anyways. And now, you know, you can put in like a formal, uh, challenge with the NCAA committee. And then they look at those when it comes time to like figure out bids and who's gonna go and you know, all that stuff. So I think that has helped kind of regulated a little bit, but you know, when you have the ability to kind of move your lineup with everything, and I think, again, the more balanced teams are, it's really hard to like decipher it is that, is that player really supposed to be there or not?
Kristina Hernandez (00:16:52):
So I think the more players that have the teams that have larger rosters that becomes kind of hard to like justify because they, they have a lot of talent. So, you know, who am I to say that that's not supposed to be at their seat. Right. Cause there's so many things you don't know, you don't have that kid PR you don't how that kid practices, you don't know if she's really lazy. You don't know all those things. You're kind of just judging like, oh, she should be there. It's like, well, you don't know the whole background of it. I mean, she may, she may hate watching film. She might be really difficult to coach. I mean, there's so many other things that go into play there. So, but I think there are, there used to be back in the day, some moves where it was like, come on, that's just really like, okay,
Mark Burik (00:17:30):
Kristina Hernandez (00:17:30):
Know, you shouldn't move your one seat to the four or like all of a sudden your one seeds that the exhibition and your exhibitions now playing at the one seed. So like
Mark Burik (00:17:39):
She's surfing, she was living all week and now she,
Kristina Hernandez (00:17:42):
Yeah. Why were they in the lineup in the first place of their exhibition? So I, I think this year was fairly, fairly good besides a few instances that, you know, we kind of hear chirped about all the time, but I, I think for the most part, everybody's trying to be as ethical as possible when kind of making their lineups now.
Mark Burik (00:18:01):
Okay. Yeah. Do you, uh, is there a way that you let's, let's put it this way? What factors play the most important role for you when you are trying to decide who plays together? Do you allow your team to just go wild, wild west and say pair up or are you, you know, like making people play with them and then is it their individual ability? Is it, are there certain players like, uh, you know, car who can just, or I guess now Phil dozer who can just win with anybody mm-hmm um, is it relationship, is it their individual ability or is it the, the, the chemistry between individuals and trying to pick up on that? Yeah. How, how do you look at that?
Kristina Hernandez (00:18:44):
It's all those things. Cause I think it's different for every pair. I mean, I'll take my two seed, for instance, we they're two defenders and we randomly threw them together one day because a bunch of our blockers were out for the day for practice. So we just threw them because they they're too good to play with kind of some of our lower level players. So we're just like, we'll just throw you guys together. Okay. And it was instant, like in, we instantly saw the chemistry from them. It was just beautiful watching them play together, just like, it is not difficult to figure out. And you're like, okay, this is, we have to put them together.
Mark Burik (00:19:17):
When you say chemistry, D do you mean like their connection talking and cheering for each other or did like the, the, the nature of the set and the hit, were they matching each other's timing and flow?
Kristina Hernandez (00:19:28):
Yeah, it was just the flow. The flow of the game was so easy and they had, you know, never practiced together really, because again, they were just two defenders. They were neither really blockers, but they were so good at peeling and lining up and taking responsibility. That, that's what I mean, like we just threw 'em together. They started playing and all of these things just clicked for them without a lot of effort so that, you know, and they became our two seed and they were really competitive. I mean, they were 22 and nine. I, I might be off with that, but, you know, they were huge for us and, and clenched a lot of duals for us. And they're, you know, five, seven and five, eight two. See, but, um, impeccable ball control defense and just really two smart athletes. But, so that was easy. They were one of the first pairs that we put together and it was just a random, you know, one off day where just, we just couldn't do anything else
Mark Burik (00:20:20):
That shouldn't be undervalued. Right. Because like, I see so many like defenders where I've, I've played really well with guys my size and probably better just because, you know, the flow of their set or where they needed to be. That's where I wanted to put that, that ball. And they, like, without words understood the positioning right. And how to create timing for me and I, the same for them. Whereas, you know, I keep to find this big blocker and there's such a, you know, that's a smaller field that you're looking for. And it just, a lot of times it doesn't match up just because I hate their handsets. I hate their bumps. , you know, whatever, like, yes, it's a set. Yeah. But there's a feeling where it's like, Mmm, that's the one that I want to hit and you know how to put it there every time.
Kristina Hernandez (00:21:07):
Yeah. Yeah. Honestly, I think we have one pair like that every year where it's just like, and Annette was our PRI primary blocker and she's maybe five, six on a good day, but she just, she sets herself up well to funnel, to, you know, Carol who's who's the other player. And she just peels so much. And she's so good at it that I was like, all right, well, I guess we're never gonna get a block here at the two C, but it's all right. And she didn't, I, I don't think she, she might have gotten one block the entire season, but again, and they're both hand setters. So again, their ability to just kind of move and flow offensively and do a lot of fun stuff. So, but yeah, I, I think that we have a pair like that every year. They're just, and we love those pairs because they're, they're not easy, but they're, they're the ones who are like, oh, okay.
Kristina Hernandez (00:21:57):
The, those that's, that's the good one. And then everybody else, we, you know, we kind of let, we'll either kind of decide who our kind of top four are and we'll try and pair them together and see if it works. A lot of it is chemistry. We always tell them it's not necessarily just the good stuff. It's how are they in conflict and can get through their bad days and their bad moments, because that lets us know they're gonna be good. Because a lot of times when things don't automatically work, I think some of the younger players, their automatic reaction is like, well, I need a new partner. It's like, well, that's not, that's not
Mark Burik (00:22:27):
Realistic. All the younger players in all of the,
Kristina Hernandez (00:22:30):
Yeah. It's like everywhere. Oh yeah. I don't like this. What's my solution. I'm just gonna get a new player, new partners. Like, yeah. That's not, that's not real
Mark Burik (00:22:40):
Come to the AVP. It's literal. I think I wish more of the pros stuck together. The whole other, the rest of the world is like, I don't understand how you guys play literally with a different partner, every single tournament, or like every two or three tournaments. So like how do you even improve? And, and now I see that. I understand it. Yeah. But there's also like a huge field and everybody's on that little bubble and there's just too much ego, honestly.
Kristina Hernandez (00:23:04):
Um, yeah. A lot of it is ego and I, I would say the same for ours. It's like, you think you should be playing with this person where it's like, just focus on the one that you're with. So yeah. A lot of it is their ability to deal with conflict, the flow of the game, how they communicate at some point, we'll ask them for their input. Like if you had to choose your top two, you know, who is it and why? And we'll, we'll listen to it doesn't mean we are necessarily going to do it, but we at least get their feedback. Our 3, 4, 5 this year, they were all freshman and sophomores. And I think we initially started with what we thought we thought was good. And on paper, it made sense from a, you know, from a skill level and where they should be playing at and what seed they were playing at, but they weren't able to win together.
Kristina Hernandez (00:23:49):
Like they would get to these tie breakers and be 13, 13. And all of a sudden they would just like choke up and hit the ball out. And like, what, why are you doing this all of a sudden? Hmm. And that happened to us a lot at the, at the beginning of the season, you know, we're, there were so many, two, three matches that we lost when we had like the advantage, because they, you could just tell, they weren't really, they really didn't have a lot of incompetence in each other as a pair and that caused hesitation. So that wasn't good. And then, you know, random stuff always happens and we're, we're at a tournament, South Carolina and my really good two C player gets injured and she's just gotta be out for the day. So we have to shift like the entire lineup. We end up, you know, changing all of our tours up the 3, 4, 5 kind of sliding up or moving down. And those pairs just clicked instantly. And all of a sudden, they're winning tie breakers now, and they're doing it very aggressively and we're like, okay. And then you ask them, it's like, oh, I just feel really good playing with her on the court. Uh, whether it was a change of scenery who really knows. But that change was really huge for us because by the time we went into Aun, we had made those switches at the four and the five from a, you know, just the defenders. Like we switched our defenders down there
Mark Burik (00:25:10):
And Aons your conference, right.
Kristina Hernandez (00:25:12):
Eli's conference. Those two pairs went 25 and three
Mark Burik (00:25:19):
Kristina Hernandez (00:25:20):
Together from Asan to the national championship, all those hit like, so they were just dang. Yeah. And it wasn't, again, it wasn't necessarily, it, it was the same like four kids. We just switched their partners, they're partners. And they just, again, it was just either having confidence in each other or all of a sudden be like, it just, it was crazy, but they were just completely new players being able to close out these really tough matches and doing it so aggressively. And it was awesome to kind of see that,
Mark Burik (00:25:54):
How do you try specifically, like, I'm, I'm gonna lock you down and, and try to try to make, make you give some details, but how do you try to figure that out before those matches? Yeah. What's, what's the process of, yeah. We're practicing. Yeah. We're getting better. And at the same time, I'm trying to figure out who is going to work together because you said it, it happened like at a tournament because somebody drops out and you're like, oh, what a surprise, but I'm sure that there's an active every day. Like maybe this person should be here.
Kristina Hernandez (00:26:27):
Yeah. Um, it's a long process. We will start it in the fall. Um, and granted, we always have one or two kids come in January, so we'll start the whole thing over, but we always have some basis of fall. I love numbers. I love stats. I love information. I like making decisions like that. And just instead of me, just guessing on who I think should be playing together, I like Infor I like information. It's just how my brain works. So, you know, we have huddle just like most of us do kind of in the top 10, 15.
Mark Burik (00:26:55):
So you just huddle is,
Kristina Hernandez (00:26:56):
It's a video platform software, but they break up all of our games. They'll break up our scrimmages, our practices, and they'll pump out stats now for us and hitting charts. So we're about our third year into it now. And I, I think we really understand the baselines. Like if you're gonna play at a one to two C, these are usually the numbers and the percentages that, that you have to hit. If you're kind of at this, like these are the numbers and percentages that
Mark Burik (00:27:23):
You have to do, you know, them offhand, like what's the hitting percentage for a top one or two team in general.
Kristina Hernandez (00:27:28):
Oh, they're like, they're like 600 and, and higher. I mean, they're wow. Maybe, maybe, maybe making two to three errors of set and the highest level like UCLA, USC. I mean, those are, they're, they're playing at that level. You know, they're passing percentages at a two, 2.0. They're serving percentages at, at a two they're at, you know, the serve receive side out is 60% and higher. And the, so we know all those numbers now. So we know like if, if over time consistently, these are your numbers, realistically, this is kind of the level that you can play out. So we
Mark Burik (00:28:05):
Start with that. You gotta be at minimum against, at minimum, this is number against the top teams. And against everybody, you gotta be citing six getting kills six out of 10 times with no errors or seven out of 10 with one error. Right. And crazy for the people who are like, yeah, I do that. You also have to look across the debt and understand what your competition is, right?
Kristina Hernandez (00:28:26):
Yeah. Absolut easy. Yeah.
Mark Burik (00:28:28):
But if you're hitting under 500, that's your first baseline. Every 10 times you get the bowl, do you side out five with no errors? You should at least be at 50% if you want. Just, just up your level. Yeah. Um, good, good metric to pay attention to we're doing that in our, in our online courses. We're getting everybody to
Kristina Hernandez (00:28:47):
It's great. It's free information. Cause I think you, when you look at that, either from a weekly basis off of a scrimmage in practice or after you play from the weekend, and then you can compare it to what you did the week before and the week after, that's what, like, I think we kind of know like, okay, they're, they're progressing. They can do this consistently. They can play at this level consistently, but those numbers are important. I think it gives 'em real information to kind of latch onto for markers to hit. And that's such a like indoor thing because indoor always had stats. You know, you have stats for everything. So
Mark Burik (00:29:19):
In five page, I
Kristina Hernandez (00:29:20):
Like that. I like that piece because it lets us know, you know, if we have a team that's making six, seven errors in a set, realistically, we're like, yeah, you're either gonna be a five maybe, or maybe you just can't be in the lineup because that's a lot, it's a lot to have in one set.
Mark Burik (00:29:37):
Are there some people that make more errors when they play with a, a different person for like just the same athlete, not make errors, no matter who they play with.
Kristina Hernandez (00:29:46):
Yes. They're ones. You always like, like, like you said about Phil, like there are players that we have that can win with anybody on the team, you know, whoever they're with, they're just winning. Okay. And our, our freshman one, he blocker was like that. She just, just regardless of who we put her, put her with, she was winning. She was hitting the same numbers. Her energy was the same. Her communication was the same. So you're like, that's just a really good player. So now it's
Mark Burik (00:30:11):
Why, why, why was what was about her that she could play with anything or any athletes that you see that can play with anyone?
Kristina Hernandez (00:30:20):
Mark Burik (00:30:21):
I think is feet to ball. Is it that technical? Is it emotional? Is it, do they make their partners feel good or are they just neutral? You know, do you, do you see in the conference, any similar qualities be behind those people?
Kristina Hernandez (00:30:32):
I think that they're, I think you hit, like, they make people better. I think they find how to win with whoever they're with. And they,
Mark Burik (00:30:42):
I, I know that's tough.
Kristina Hernandez (00:30:44):
I know, I, I think when you, sometimes when we think we get paired with somebody that we shouldn't be playing with, we automatically kind of change a little bit. Some kids do where, you know, they kind of have not a bad attitude, but maybe a bad perspective where they're only seeing bad things happening or complaining about like, ah, well, this set's not exactly
Mark Burik (00:31:06):
Ready to give in quicker.
Kristina Hernandez (00:31:07):
Right? Yeah. So you're nitpick at everything. Instead of like said just kind of being neutral and understanding like, okay, this is my partner, this is the circumstance. And this is how I'm gonna be able to win. And, you know, we always talk about trying to manage the weaknesses with whoever your pair is. Like not trying to all of a sudden be really like an expert at it, but how can you manage it where it's not gonna affect the game because you know, everybody we're playing is gonna do something a little bit different. And you know, you're not all of a sudden in a hyper speed learn how to kind of adapt to it if you're not prepared for it, but maybe your partner is having a horrible day and you still have to figure out how to win instead of just being, instead of just making that as an excuse of like, well, it's, it's because she wasn't playing well, because you know, we've had a, there's always one and I I'm sure all of us are the same. We always have one player that is the same that regardless they can just, I think it's a lot of internal motivation, but I think they just know how to win. And they're focused on that part of it that like, okay, this is who I have. So let me figure out how to win instead
Mark Burik (00:32:12):
Of, so you think that the players that can play with anybody and do it successfully, do they change their game according to who they play with? Or no,
Kristina Hernandez (00:32:21):
I don't. I don't think so.
Mark Burik (00:32:23):
No. Interesting. No, they're not like chameleon in terms of playing
Kristina Hernandez (00:32:26):
Style. Yeah. They might, you know, they might take on more responsibility, but it's not like they all of a sudden start optioning because that person can't side out or, you know, whatever it is. But I think that's the thing. I, I think their game doesn't morph, I think that they play the same style of game with whoever they're with where another player again might have not a great reaction to the partnership and that AU, because they're in that emotional state already, they, they then change their game unknowingly because they're not in that. They're not in that flow of that state of mind of just playing they're, they've got this kind of handicap that they see where they think they have to do more to win, but they really don't. I mean, they do, but they don't. But I, I think that perception is huge where we've got the players that are like, yeah, I'll play with whoever where wherever you need me. And we know we can plug them. And then there's some where it's like, they really can only play with that person because they just don't do well with anybody else. And that's tough. And we always tell our players, like the more people you can play with the better, it only opens up your, you know, your availability. So we go through all of that in the fall and we mix them up and we have 'em play Paris tournaments and duals. And so we always track
Speaker 3 (00:33:47):
All their wins and losses
Kristina Hernandez (00:33:47):
With their, yeah. And as pairs, cuz we wanna be in a position to where, when we do have injuries, because honestly it happened to us probably two or three times this year where somebody that was a significant player got injured and we had to shift the lineup. We don't want them to panic. I don't wanna panic. I want to have already looked at all of the options that we have and know that like, okay, if we plug this in here, we're still gonna be as competitive. So we do that in the fall to make sure like, okay, so and so can play. This is her best option. This is option B if we have to. Um, and then we have 'em play together a lot so that when we do have to make those changes, they're prepared for it. It's not a shock to them.
Kristina Hernandez (00:34:28):
And, and we did that a lot this year. And I think, I think our team did really good at handling that this year because we had prepped to be able to play with at least three different people, should the scenario happen. Good. And I think the teams, you know, you take FSU, they're probably a perfect example because she's using her lineup really strategically. That's Brooke really well, Brooke. Yeah. Yeah. And they've got a lot of really good talent, you know, that's not playing, but they, they change their players and pairs a lot kind of at the lower seeds. And it's really hard to scout cuz you never know who you're playing. Like you're like, ah, I thought she was gonna do this and she didn't do it. So we have to prep them for that. But I think she uses that to her advantage because they, her team could, is used to doing that a lot.
Kristina Hernandez (00:35:18):
And I think it's kind of just an Mo that, that just, you know, we never know, we always walk into FSU being like, okay, this is a lineup we scouted, but we very well know this is probably not the lineup we're gonna play mm-hmm because she can match up because she has, you know, she has so many players off, so that's a different kind of strategy, but it's, it's a long process. And it's, it's trying to make sure that I don't get stuck in one thing that I think should be happening because I, I think our ability to change quickly is why we end up being so successful towards the end because I don't, I'm not afraid to pull the trigger if something's not working. It's like we can't, you know, if we can't keep doing the same thing and expecting them to all of a sudden figure it out, at some point we give them time to figure it out.
Kristina Hernandez (00:36:03):
But at some point we have to kind of change it, especially when they're so young and they're fairly similar in talent. For the most part, they all have different strengths. But I think again, their flex, their ability to adapt and be flexible is probably the most important part of it. But I, I know we all take a long time to do it. We always talk right before season and everybody's like, I have no idea what I'm gonna do. You know, I have no idea what the lineup's gonna be. I have no idea who, who really knows what we're gonna do right now, but it's fun. I, I enjoy it a lot. That's probably my, one of my most favorite parts about it is trying to figure all that out because
Mark Burik (00:36:38):
You know, and I, and I don't coach, uh, NCAA anymore. I used to coach indoor and we went through it with, with six and seven people, you know, where we had like best friends on the team who were setters and they're competing for the same spot, but NCAA beach volleyball to me right now, it seems like a survivor, like the show survivor where you figure out like how to form a, an Alliance. And then there's all these emotions involved with like, well, I can either be better or I can be good with her. Yeah. You know, and, and hopefully you're doing both. And then you're wondering if coach is gonna split up your best friend and now she's off the island. You know, like, it's crazy to think of the emotions that, that those players are, have to go through when you're making those decisions. And really the only thing that, that they can do as far as I see it is be adaptable.
Kristina Hernandez (00:37:32):
Mark Burik (00:37:33):
And play well. And then you have to, you have to follow, you know, the, the leader's lead and, and that's it. And if you can do those things, if you can support your team, if you can do everything that, that you do. Right. And you're adaptable as hell, you're in a good spot for life on earth.
Kristina Hernandez (00:37:48):
Yeah. , that's true. Yeah. Yeah. We always tell 'em, it's like your reaction to it is our, like one of the most, one of the first things that we look at it that we look at, because I think we in reality know, like maybe beyond the one and the two and maybe even three, there's gonna be a lot of change a lot at the bottom, even if we're just trying to match up from a, from a physicality standpoint or, you know, maybe our, we have one defender who's better at digging shots rather than a hard, I mean, there's so many things down there where it's like, if we can match up a little bit better, we can. So their reaction to it. And yeah, just their ability to play with. We have had pairs together that couldn't stand each other outside outside of it. They were all Americans. Um, and they played together for four years. I was like their marriage counselor, but they were so incredible together. They just were so hard headed that they constantly were thinking about like, who else could they play with? And we would try it. We would try it out. Yeah. And then we would be like, it's not as good. This is why you have to be together.
Mark Burik (00:38:55):
That was that Swiss team from back in the early two thousands, two Swiss guys that did not get along, literally not a single word to each other, the entire match. They like no high fives, no nothing. Mm-hmm I think their father was coaching them and they were brothers and they hated each other. Yeah. Um, but they were,
Kristina Hernandez (00:39:14):
Yeah. yeah. Yeah. I had par and they're yeah. Two time all Americans and, uh, yeah, they, they would peel out after all the games, they would just peel off from each other and then I'd have to bring them back at some point. And I get it. But you guys are literally like 25 and three. So just, just figure it out like you guys will
Mark Burik (00:39:32):
Be alright. Yeah. I like kind of, you know, later in my career, I'm, I'm kind of looking at that, like, yes, I wanna play with the great players, but then there's also still like, there's some players that you kind of just don't wanna play with. Even if they are good, you, you start looking at it and we don't really make anything for beach volleyball, you know, there's, there's not like a ton of money, so it's not like off, if I put myself through hell, then at least I'll, I'll get a, a championship and get a million bucks. That's the, the payoff, like the payoff is the championship, but like, you know, $7,500. So looking at the relationships, I'm starting to look at like, who am I gonna enjoy myself with? Yeah. You know, who am I going to like, relax, be able to hang out with them, travel with them.
Mark Burik (00:40:13):
And sometimes it's, I'm cool hanging with somebody who doesn't talk at all. Because like, I, I, I'm a lot less talky nowadays. And sometimes it's like, Kurt topple was one of my favorite partners and that guy did not stop talking, but it was always like kind of interesting and fun. And he's hyper intelligent. Yeah. So even though he wouldn't be my typical, like it's a little too talky for me. Uh, he was always interesting and funny and he would make random friends wherever we went in the world . And so it was, you know, it became one of my best friends that season we played together. And, uh, you always keep trying to find that emotional balance of, is it worth it to play with a better player and how much better are you gonna be? Right. If it's just, it, it makes life sucky. Yeah. Sometimes it's not sometimes depending on your goals, it is. And you have to take that into account. What's my goal. Why do I play, why am I competing? Why am I signing up for a tournament and then take an assessment of who you wanna play with and who you should play with.
Kristina Hernandez (00:41:15):
Yeah. Fun stuff.
Mark Burik (00:41:16):
you mentioned a little bit, uh, and I do wanna get into kind of physicality, but in terms of you had one person who you said, maybe dig shots better and maybe digs hard driven ball. Could you give me, and, and I'll ask you to search your brain for mm-hmm , you know, it's imaginary, but I want you to think of somebody in your conference, like one team mm-hmm and then just without mentioning them or your team just say the strategy and why you would use it. Yeah. Could you just pull one of your strategies for the players who are listening and are trying to, they, they hear about strategy and as far as they go, it's serve the person who can't hit as well. And that's like, as, as deep as they go, so I wanna help people get more strategy. Yeah. So what, what do you look for?
Kristina Hernandez (00:42:00):
So we serve up our, we set up our serving strategy based off of what our defensive strengths are. So we don't necessarily just serve the best or the, you know, the worst hitter cuz that's, you know, maybe, maybe our defender doesn't defend whatever it is that they're doing very well. That happens all the time. We do have a lot of different players where one is much better at digging shots versus hard driven where we also have a kid that's much Sier and the other one just likes to swing at everything. We have some that move and some that are higher. So there's all these different things, right? So we will first talk to our players once we have film of who they wanna serve, because they think they can funnel this shot or this heart. So even if it's, you know, you take UCLA for instance, because their last team, we played very, very, very good team, definitely not just a Shooty team.
Kristina Hernandez (00:42:52):
A lot of them swing and take big swings a lot. I think our defenders were comfortable with that because they li like, it's their strength. Like they felt really good serving some of the bigger players and just kind of sitting there and getting ready to dig that ball because they knew that they could do it. So it wasn't necess it wasn't in a mind frame of like, I wanna stay away from that because she's really strong. It was like, I, I want this and I wanna serve her because I'm trying, I, this is my strength as a defender. And I know that I can dig this ball and convert off of it. So, okay. We really try to work. I think from a mindset perspective, it's good because they're, they're coming into defense in a much more aggressive mindset with, and like understanding what it is that they're trying to take.
Kristina Hernandez (00:43:40):
And even if it might be the player's best shot or best swing, it might be best defense. It might be our strength defensively. So we try to do that. So even if we take a time out, you know, if we have a player that's coming out of the middle and maybe she's swinging, you know, we, we always, we'll always, we go through, you know, we practice multiple defenses based on scenarios, et cetera. So we always give them the options. It's like, Hey, this is what she's doing. We're gonna serve her here. And this is what she's gonna do. We can either do this defense, this defense or that defense. And we let them decide what they're gonna do, because they're confident in that decision with, like, I know that if she's gonna do that, I can run this defense and I'm gonna dig that ball.
Kristina Hernandez (00:44:21):
So we give them those options based off of how we've trained them and that their decision comes off of them knowing that this shot or swing their best way to defend it is by running this particular defense where maybe our two seed, their strength is very different from what our four seed is. So we have to give them that flexibility of not just if I were playing, I would run this because this is how I would do it. It's it's understanding they all have different defensive strengths. So, you know, again, if, if this is this player's strength and we know she's gonna do it, I defensively know that I can run this particular defense and I'm gonna dig this ball more likely than not. And then that, you know, takes her kind of her strength away. So we always try to take the strength away from the player, more than hoping that somebody's gonna make an error or hoping that somebody's gonna miss hit.
Kristina Hernandez (00:45:15):
Because I, I think the, like obviously the higher levels you play, the higher teams you play. They're not gonna make those errors. They're not gonna do that for you. You know, they're, it's gonna be a side out match and you have to find the defensive breaks where you get them. So we try to do that in a much more aggressive mindset, but, um, we do try to match up sometimes with our four and five defenders, because they're fairly similar from a skill perspective where there are a lot of five seeds we play that are just very shooting. And we have a kid that just loves running around and can dig 5,000 shots, no matter what, like she's just like everywhere. It's like, do it, do it. So we'll match her up because we know that that's her strength. Whereas our other defender, yeah. She's gonna get a little lazy on the high line sometimes, but she can dig a hard driven ball. So, well, so we'll flip like that because
Mark Burik (00:46:07):
There's so many players like that. There's so many players that like, are fantastic shot diggers, but if you just, you know, blast them, you're fine. And vice versa. Like they will lip you if you unload. And then as soon as you hit a high line, they're just frozen. They didn't even move. It's like, and you have to, why would I swing here? Right.
Kristina Hernandez (00:46:25):
Yeah. And it's the same thing when we have, you know, when you're on the offensive side of it, it's it's are you gonna play into that? Defender's strength? Are you gonna kind of get into, you know, a, a little match there because we have this, like, everything wants to swing and I'm like, Hey, I get it. But she's digging every ball. So it's just not the thing to do right now. I think there's one team we play who their defender and she's, I'm not, she she's frustrating. She is a runaround. Like she's everywhere. It's like, girl, where, what am I gonna do with you? I have no idea. What's
Mark Burik (00:46:58):
She? Is she Juy or is she just low? Very rude and very, Quick's not
Kristina Hernandez (00:47:03):
She's she holds, she's not GIY, but we don't see her. Like, she's just, she moves really late and she does it very smoothly. But in the same breath, we know that if we don't swing first against her, she's just gonna do that the whole game. And then she'll give up, you know, the couple of hard angle, hard angle swings that you do do because it's not affecting the match enough. So that's the thing it's like, okay, if you have a defender like that, you, you have to establish your hard, your hard swing, or they're just gonna constantly be on the move. And same thing, if you're, you've got a defender who likes to dig, you know, the hard driven attack. It's like, if you're not establishing those shots, she's just gonna sit there and she's gonna give those up because it's not gonna affect the match enough. Our, I actually really like playing Juy players. Um, cause I feel like they give up a lot.
Mark Burik (00:47:52):
What do you think they give up the most? Do you think they give up hard driven the most or
Kristina Hernandez (00:47:56):
Just, yeah. And, and
Mark Burik (00:47:56):
It, honestly, they move too early, so it actually makes them
Kristina Hernandez (00:47:59):
Early. And a lot of it is probably more, not that it's not an effective defense. I think it's probably those players just don't run it effectively from a timing perspective, especially at the college level.
Mark Burik (00:48:10):
You just give it away your
Kristina Hernandez (00:48:12):
Mark Burik (00:48:13):
It's like tiny bit too early.
Kristina Hernandez (00:48:15):
Yeah. We played one kid in juice like five times. And I was like, you're making me tired. Just watching you. I don't even know what you're doing. It's like, what are you digging? So over
Mark Burik (00:48:24):
Time that's distracting. I mean, so there's bad about that. But over time it's like distracting. I, if, if you never think they're going to sit still, then you, you just decide, you know, screw it because they're too hard to keep track of. So I'm not gonna try to shoot anymore. I'm just gonna hit and maybe that would help lead them into your blocker. Mm-hmm but only if you're good at Jing and actually making plays and like, because the people who move around and then they finally flash in one place, but it's too early, then it becomes a joke for a hitter with vision, right? Yeah. Yes. You know, I think that early move it's so PE so many people don't know that they're moving early and completely just making it easy on the attacker.
Kristina Hernandez (00:49:03):
Yeah. Yeah. We like playing those players
Mark Burik (00:49:04):
Kristina Hernandez (00:49:06):
So, yeah, there's different. And you know, the fun thing about college and especially each individual pair we play, even if it's a different seat, they all obviously have their own little strengths, weaknesses, but from a team perspective, they all fairly similarly systematically do fairly similar things. Okay. We train team system a lot in that way in preparing that way. If there is a change at a seed with maybe a player we hadn't scouted or whatever we know for the most part, from a system standpoint that they're gonna fall under the same umbrella.
Mark Burik (00:49:42):
Okay. And then, so certain swings or certain defenses work in certain situations
Kristina Hernandez (00:49:46):
All time. Right. Because every, every coach has a particular way that they train and a particular style that they like. And like I said, we know the teams that like to juke, we know the teams that like to double duke, we know the teams that like to do straight up. They're never gonna switch their defense ever. We know the ones that like to peel. I mean, that's, that's just like, again, so from a system standpoint, I think we can prep our teams. We prep our teams in that manner. And then once we scout, we can focus on each individual pair, you know, what might work for us versus not. But I think as long as I've been in it now, so I'm going into my 10th year. All of these coaches, we've all been the same where I'm like, yep, we're playing them. This is what they're gonna do.
Kristina Hernandez (00:50:30):
Like without even watching film because cuz we just know already, like that's what we do. Right. So that's all good. And that's a very long winded, but I, I think from a defensive standpoint, I think just trying to rely, we, we really don't try to rely on somebody making errors. I think if there's somebody who doesn't pass well then yeah. We'll put pressure. But then all of a sudden they become an amazing passer when they're playing you. And then you're like, what am I supposed to be doing? So we sometimes just like, like to, like I said, like to serve the stronger thing, if we know that they're very predictable in what they're gonna do, I think that helps as well. Like if they only do two things offensively, I think our kids feel very comfortable with knowing like, Hey, I just have to prioritize this and she's gonna prioritize that. I think the players that just, you know, they have no pattern really. You can sit there and watch film of them all day and they're just not gonna do the same thing. And they run, you know, multiple sets and they do multiple things off of multiple sets. Those, those kids are hard. It's like now let's stay, let's stay away from her because
Mark Burik (00:51:33):
Okay, so you go to the people that have the fairly predictable offense, like the hard cross and Highline people. Right? Those that's easy. They're they' there are those players, those are the only two shots and right. That's all we gotta, we can handle that. We can peel and we can sit in the, in the cross, right?
Kristina Hernandez (00:51:48):
Mark Burik (00:51:49):
Are there any, are there any serve locations that you've seen over your career that, you know, if we serve this 90% of players hit this,
Kristina Hernandez (00:52:01):
Mark Burik (00:52:01):
Trying to give the listeners just like yeah. One thing that they can do that they can predict for most of the teams.
Kristina Hernandez (00:52:07):
I think each team, like I said, I, I think each team has a passing predictability based on if, okay, Hey, we're gonna serve them all in the sea because if they, if we serve them in the seam, I'll take for, so there was one team we played, we knew if we served them in the sea, they were gonna run behind and they were gonna hit a high line. That's what they did. So we tried to yeah, very simple. Right. It's just not very good team as well. They were in the top 10, but it just like we knew we could execute that serve. And then, and then again, if they were gonna go behind and hit that high line, we, you know, from an option, we, our defender was either gonna wait and then run down the line or we, we were gonna peel line. So those were, you know what we're gonna do.
Mark Burik (00:52:48):
So to defend the high line, do you have a preference to defend the high line peel or run the very late four,
Kristina Hernandez (00:52:54):
Depending on if our blocker is a very good peeler on that ball or again, like, and we talk to our defenders first, it's like, are you comfortable running that down? Do you want her digging that ball? So which one do we wanna do? We kind of give 'em those options of like, Hey, this is, this is what we're gonna serve. This is what's gonna happen. Mm-hmm so what defense is the best for us in terms of that? Because there are some peelers that we have, like I said, our two seeds that I know they can peel all day and funnel that ball and some other blockers I'm like, no, I think you should stay up there and stay away from that. Just let your defender do their job. So I think it changes based off of again, a situational. But I think when you can find those patterns with a particular pair or partner team where it's, again, like we can see it because we have so much film and we can cut it up and we can see all these patterns where from a team perspective, we're like, oh yeah, let's serve that because they all do the same thing.
Kristina Hernandez (00:53:47):
Okay. I think short serves, we've really tried to do more of this year because I think it jams people up a lot and they can, again, like
Mark Burik (00:53:55):
I love short serve.
Kristina Hernandez (00:53:56):
Yeah. It's they get again, it's very, very predictable where if they're probably only gonna do this one particular thing based off, even if they are passing it, you know, they're gonna do that. So we, again, it's how can you isolate that to make that player very predictable instead of them giving them the, you might be serving them deep in that corner, but that might be their best. You know, they practice that all the time. They know how to move off of that corner
Mark Burik (00:54:24):
And they get more variable shots.
Kristina Hernandez (00:54:26):
Yeah. More, more variance and, and it makes it harder to read. So we always try to find the serving spot that limits the predictability, because that helps us defensively. Cool. Do you find it all the time sometimes, but I think we've gotten fairly good at, and again, a lot of it comes off of your ability to execute the serve. We can talk about serving short all day, but if our players can't execute it, then it's worthless. Right?
Mark Burik (00:54:50):
Yeah. You serve short and they always Highline and cut and we have terrible chasers and open hand diggers. Yeah.
Kristina Hernandez (00:54:55):
Like, great. So it has to, again, it has to make sense for what your strengths are and then if you know, you're gonna funnel that and you know, it's gonna be predictable. It's like, it's because it's, it's coming. We're, we're trying to dictate more of what we're trying to get on the other side. Can we do it all the time? No, but if we can, you know, again like 30, 40% of the time get the ball we're trying to get, then we're in a really good position from a transition conversion standpoint to be able to convert more and win that little battle there. Um, so that's what we kind of try to focus on.
Mark Burik (00:55:28):
Hey, all, all things being equal with two players, you talked about, you had your double defender team that did magic. Would you put the, is, is there a rule that you use for, who's going to be the net protector peeler because our audience has a lot of BAA players and I am on a mission to help them understand that they don't need to block so that they should be peeling more. But then a lot of them, you know, in the beginning they get confused over who should be up when should be up. And is there a certain, uh, a physical attribute that you say that's why this person should be the peeler, should the more agile person be protecting the net and peeling because they get stopped in balance easier or should the more agile person be able to use their agility from the ground, you know? And, and like, they're stable. Do you have any rules or insights on that or for all things being equal? How do we decide who's gonna be the net protector, peeler.
Kristina Hernandez (00:56:21):
Yeah. All, everything is always well, cause it, it changes, you know? So like if I take my two seed, primarily Annette was our, we do, we just because she was a better peeler, she was more comfortable and went deciding when to peel versus not. And she felt like Carol was better at running down high lines.
Mark Burik (00:56:43):
What made her a better peeler? Was it her overhead digging ability was her ability to get strong,
Kristina Hernandez (00:56:47):
Definitely over overhead, overhead peeling, for sure. Okay.
Mark Burik (00:56:50):
Like just slaps, poke Tomohawk
Kristina Hernandez (00:56:52):
Everywhere. Like just so good. Could dig the balls overhead, just, you know, super again, like agile, her timing of it was really good and she's small. And even if people knew that she was gonna do that, she was still gonna dig in front of the ball. Cool. But then there were some teams we played where maybe they really challenged her on the peel and it just wasn't working. And then we would switch sometimes and have Carol peel because she, she was better at digging that particular player or that particular team. Okay. So it's gone both ways. We always try to morph into what's happening with the game. But again, we've prepared them both ways because it, it depends on who we're playing and how that player is handling, how we're handling, what that player is able to do. Because again, nothing is ever the same. And there will be some instances where maybe they were split blocking and Annette was just not playing defense very well behind Carol on the block. So we would just be like, Hey, you're gonna serve, but you gotta run up this time because we're at 13, 13 in the third set and we need to play into your strength. So I think it always changes. We
Mark Burik (00:58:04):
Try to, it could be a great defender and like, somebody has a weird arm swing or the way their wrist hits the ball. And it just, doesn't like, you're a great defender and, and they don't match your skillset or your eyes. And you're like, I don't know why, but I can't take this person. Yeah.
Kristina Hernandez (00:58:17):
And I think at that point you have to change what you're doing. And I'm not saying everybody can block and everybody can play defense. But I think that if you're playing, like you said, a very kind of equal skill set. You have to try it at some point because what's the worst that's gonna happen because that you might be defending that person better. You might be lining up on the block better. You might do better on the peel than your partner normally does. So
Mark Burik (00:58:43):
What's that point for you? How long do you wait? You know, you come in, you, you already said you come in with a defensive strategy. We haven't even talked about offensive strategy yet. Mm-hmm . But at what point in the game, do you tell them cuz so many, I think players give up and they say, you just gotta feel the game. And I'm like, no, that's like, you know, a pro who's been playing for 30 years or since he was born saying yeah. You know, giving some passing advice that you're like, that's not actually what happens. That's just what you think happens. And you're bad at describing it. Do you allow them to feel the game or do you say, Hey, this is when we reassess. Yeah. You know? Or is the percentage that happens? What, how do you do that?
Kristina Hernandez (00:59:22):
So our rule of thumb is always three. If the same ball is happening three times, we at least have to change our defense. It may not necessarily be changing who is blocking, who's defending, but we need to change our defense. It's not working now. We in a,
Mark Burik (00:59:35):
In a row,
Kristina Hernandez (00:59:36):
Yes. In a row, like the three
Mark Burik (00:59:38):
Kills or three
Kristina Hernandez (00:59:40):
Of the same swing, if three of the same, if it's happening three times in a row, like say we've peeled three times and that person's hit the peeler three times or scored versus appeal, even in a different direction three times, then we should be changing our defense. We can go back to it, but we need to show something else instead of losing the same thing.
Mark Burik (00:59:59):
So wait, coach Hernandez, you don't just change your strategy after one kill from the other team.
Kristina Hernandez (01:00:05):
Yeah. Yeah. I know. So there's, there's two different things. One, we, we focus on our side out and so we know that if we're siding out, well, we need to focus on that first. And then eventually we will get the defensive break cuz we know that the teams we're playing are gonna side out. It is unrealistic for us to assume that we're going to defend every single ball. It's not real. If we focus on trying to, to defend every single ball, then we lose focus on our side out. Then the game gets away from us. Super fast.
Mark Burik (01:00:35):
Interesting sound bite right there.
Kristina Hernandez (01:00:38):
Yeah. yeah. So if we're going back and forth, you know, in the beginning of a match and it's just ping pong, we want our players to be comfortable in that state with just like the we're just playing the game right now. And eventually we'll get the ball we need and transition and then we'll score that point and we'll get a little bit ahead. So we try to find those little breaks, but it's also with the understanding. We have to be patient with our defense to where this is the defense we've decided to run and it's not working. We'll keep changing it until we find the thing that is helping us funnel it better. And that takes a great deal of patience instead of just like deciding that you're gonna change serves all of a sudden or you're gonna serve the different person. I think if you're not going through all of your scenarios with that particular person, you could change everything before you find that break in in the fact that, okay, now I've found the serve. That's weak for her. I found the ball. I can funnel. So
Mark Burik (01:01:35):
Do you change your defense first or do you change the serve location? First
Kristina Hernandez (01:01:39):
Mark Burik (01:01:41):
Okay. So your first checkpoint is like, all right, we know that she, or we think she's gonna do this. So I'm going to serve here because I think that that will be her predictable shot. And then if we're not digging her, then we're like, all right, we're gonna stay in the same player, but we're gonna see if she becomes predictable when we serve her in X spot. Right. So you don't just like change your play call randomly. You don't just say that's not working. Let's serve the other person with a no plan in mind other than
Kristina Hernandez (01:02:09):
Right. Everything has to be a plan. Yeah. So like I said, when we take time out, it's like, Hey, this is what she's doing. Here are our three defensive options that we haven't done that we can do. And then again, they decide what works off of them. If nothing is working, then we'll switch, you know, serving the other person. Seam is always a good starting point. If nothing's really working, cuz se jams up a lot of people or they start setting out a system and love
Mark Burik (01:02:33):
Short sea short sea or short sideline. I think you short or
Kristina Hernandez (01:02:37):
Seam is always, yeah, it's always our like default of like, okay, let's just serve there because we can't find anything that's working. But we, we do focus on our side out tremendously because I think, I think you can get wrapped up in defense so much and feel like you have to win every point there, but that's not. What's winning you the game. You will get your breaks.
Mark Burik (01:02:59):
That's virtually taxing to do that.
Kristina Hernandez (01:03:00):
Yeah, it it's
Mark Burik (01:03:01):
Done. I get so mad every time that the other team scores a point. Right. I see so many players do that. They're just like, God, we lost another one. Hey, if you wipe the floor with them, it's gonna be a 2117 game. That means that they'll have earned 17 points. And if you get pissed off for every single one of them, like , you're getting it. It fired up 17 times calling yourself a failure. When, if you look at the scoreboard after they're 17 kills, you crushed them like 2117 is a good score, you know? Right.
Kristina Hernandez (01:03:32):
So yeah. I mean we, and the same thing, like if we're playing a player and I'm like, Hey, she's this is her best shot. Like you have to give it to her. Like you can't, can't defend everything. You've gotta have a priority. Your blocker has a priority. And if you're able to take those priorities and there's still, you're, you're funneling at least a few percentages. Like I said, like somewhere between 30% on that priority. And there's still that player is still comfortably doing their best thing. You're still in a better position to win the match and you have to give them that other stuff. Like it's again a, I think we get into this idea that we have to shut somebody down and there are players that you can shut down. I'm not saying there's not, but again, when we play the higher level teams, you just have to be okay, the fact that they're good and they're gonna figure out how to score. And like, and again, it's, it's being comfortable in that space and being patient till when you find the thing that's actually working for you, then the game's gonna start shifting and then you'll win those big points when they matter. Instead of getting so flustered at the beginning of the game, it's like,
Mark Burik (01:04:36):
I think that's the difference between yeah. Like me in like my early twenties and me now, like, I'm fine now with not pulling away 14, 14, 15, 15, 16, 16. Like, let's go. And you know, and when I was in my early twenties and maybe younger and probably in my early thirties, it would be at that point and I'd be like, yeah, why haven't we pulled away yet? Why haven't we pulled the it's like, yeah, I think Ricardo is at Ricardo Santos. He goes there. A lot of volleyball points left. Yeah. There's
Kristina Hernandez (01:05:07):
A lot. Yeah. You have to be so comfortable in that space. And we are, and I mean, I say that and that's how we coach them. And we, you know, we don't take a time out and get flustered because they're not digging this fall. It's,
Mark Burik (01:05:20):
You know, it's, it's not relaxing.
Kristina Hernandez (01:05:22):
Mark Burik (01:05:22):
Not right. It's
Kristina Hernandez (01:05:24):
You're right. It's right. It's not relaxing. But we, we always, we always tell him, he was like, just wait for the break, just wait for the break. Like just wait for the break. Just be patient, wait for the break, go get it. And I, I think they constantly have that mentality now because we're reinforcing that. So that, that creates not that they don't get impatient. They do. But we reinforce with the same thing that we're trying to get them to think of. Right. Instead of like telling them to be patient and then being like, why don't you dig that Highline ball? She's doing the same thing every time. It's like, yeah. Okay. Well,
Mark Burik (01:05:56):
Yeah, in many ways it's like chess, you know, everybody has the same similar openings. Everybody knows the first like five or six moves mid game gets like kind of into the weeds and then end game is where it actually happens. Yeah. You know where you've discovered all of their moves and you've kind of set yourself up enough to now is the kill, but there's a, a, a pace, there's a stage to the game. Yeah. And it's not, I need to win this match now. It's not one, one I need to win this match now. Right. It's there's beginning game probably everybody's equal. I mean, at, at if levels are similar, everybody's equal and then mid game is when you really figure it out. And then the end game starts when you've put them into a position X amount of times. And now you're ready to capitalize on that.
Kristina Hernandez (01:06:40):
Right? Correct. Yeah. For sure. Definitely. Yeah. That's the, that's the good stuff.
Mark Burik (01:06:45):
Oh, so many people never get to that, but it's I know
Kristina Hernandez (01:06:48):
Mark Burik (01:06:50):
Kristina Hernandez (01:06:50):
Okay. Fun. Really be OK. The game starts, it's like three, three, and we haven't defended the girl. The kids look at me, I'm like the game just started and just give it a while. Like she's a good
Mark Burik (01:07:01):
Player. It's not working.
Kristina Hernandez (01:07:02):
Yeah. She's a good player. Like why do we wanna take a time out right now? It's only four it's on the first side switch. Like just chill out. Let the game come to you. It's like fine. So you'll be all right. Yeah.
Mark Burik (01:07:13):
Hey, I know you've got family. You've got a, a ton of responsibilities. I like so many of our, yes. I feel like in no way, have we even scratched the surface, but at the same time, I feel like this episode was in terms of how I look at another player, how I look at my team, how I understand the flow of a game. This had to be probably our most influential in terms of playing for players. Definitely. Well, good. Best episode. We've we've had in that incredible to talk with you and I hope we can do it again.
Kristina Hernandez (01:07:45):
Yeah, for sure.
Mark Burik (01:07:46):
It's been awesome. Um, really diving. Cause we didn't even talk about like offensive selection or any of that.
Kristina Hernandez (01:07:52):
So much fun since
Mark Burik (01:07:54):
I know there should be like, I, I think the hour it's probably easy to, to listen to, and you know, to choose an episode that's like an hour or an hour and 20 minutes, but really there's hundreds of hours that you could talk about and dive into and, and, and understand. And I think young coaches as well, they try to take all of their knowledge and try to put it into somebody immediately, like in one practice. And it's like, well, we gotta go step by step. Yeah. So I think if you'd like to come back on that, that that's what we'll do with each other. We'll just take it step by step and peel each little bit of your knowledge eventually
Kristina Hernandez (01:08:27):
Get to our offense eventually.
Mark Burik (01:08:29):
Kristina Hernandez (01:08:29):
Yeah, no, yeah. This has been fun. So great. Hopefully we would help, but yeah, I think, I think the thing is, is like everything is there's no like one thing or one particular answer. I think everything is like I said, so, so situational and so different. I think all of the players are different, but we definitely try to operate in like, what is this person's strength and how can I, how can I use that to our advantage rather than trying to focus on the other team so much. Cause then like you said, it's a chess match, but it's like, what side of the chess match are you on? Are you the one being the aggressor? Are you trying to constantly react? And we don't wanna constantly react. We wanna be the aggressor and, and how we're moving.
Mark Burik (01:09:11):
Yeah. Or you could be like a spider that lays you feel like you're a victim. Oh, look at me. Look at me. Look Snapchat. yeah. Yeah, for sure. Cool. Well, is there any last kinda parting words or advice that you would have for either players who are interested in coming to your university or in college in general players anywhere or, you know, club and, and future, uh, collegiate coaches. Do you have any advice for any of those sets of people in particular or all of them?
Kristina Hernandez (01:09:38):
That's a lot. That's a lot. That's a lot of different, different to figure. Yeah.
Mark Burik (01:09:43):
Um, let's start with players who are coming up like what's players
Kristina Hernandez (01:09:46):
Who are coming up. I think, like I said, I think the talent level is amazing. I think the best thing it could probably tell young players and just cuz we hear stuff when we're recruiting and because we've talked about it from a situational standpoint, I like you've gotta learn both sides of it. You've gotta learn how to block and you've gotta learn how to defend. Even if it's not, even if I'm not 6, 4, 6, 2, you know, you could still, like I said, you could still be five, seven and still be really good. Even if you just know how to move and set up your defense without ever blocking. So I think not pigeonholing into like, this is what I'm gonna do when I think I'm gonna get to college or doing the same thing with every single partner you play with and always playing with the same partner.
Kristina Hernandez (01:10:29):
I think that's, that's where people get tripped up. Like we have, I think one of the things we found when juniors come and I, I know we all have the same problems. They play all these juniors events and they always have the same partner because they get to pick their partner. And I, I think that they struggle when they get into a college environment because they don't get to pick their partner. They are, they have to work in a team environment and their, their first choice is not always the best choice for the entire lineup. And I think it's hard for a lot of them. They really struggle.
Mark Burik (01:11:04):
I think parents and, and juniors need to hear that. Yeah. Because when they're saying like, well, my girl's not playing with this, my girl's not playing with this. Here's the third, third place for most winningest coach in NCAA history. Right. She's saying I need to see your player play with multiple people. Yeah. To see how she reacts and know and help know and how of confidence that she'll come into the college environment. Well, instead of no, she needs to be with her and that's the only way they'll win and get deeper into the tournament. Yeah. Listen, film is film. No matter how far you've gotten in the tournament, film is film and, and seeing somebody compete with multiple that's, that's something parents and, and probably club coaches and directors need to hear that. I don't think is I
Kristina Hernandez (01:11:47):
Don't think, think about because like I said, I think you get really comfortable playing with the same person all the time that when you come in this environment, like I said, it's your perception changes based. And you react constantly to who you're put with, instead of just learning how to play with different people. So I think a lot of juniors do that too much where they just I've seen kids for four years straight have the same juniors partner. It's like, yeah, they're winning all these tournaments. It's great. But you're not going to college with her. Like the, like you're not going with her. So kind of setting yourself up for failure because you don't know how to operate with anybody else besides her. And it's not that you don't know how it's just, you haven't had to, it hasn't been a challenge for you to learn different personalities, play a different role because you don't have the best blocker or you don't have the same defender, whatever it is. So yeah, I, I think learning that in the juniors and doing that more is important because it sets them up better for college. A lot of freshmens struggle when they first come be because of the team environment. And they're not prepared to operate within that,
Mark Burik (01:12:54):
Um, with multiple people and
Kristina Hernandez (01:12:56):
Multiple, because they wanna play
Mark Burik (01:12:57):
With people, personalities, people would get stressed out in different ways. And you have to know that like somebody's RBF, you know, is somebody else's smile. Like when somebody experienced discomfort or, or resting state in different ways and people, they don't take into account the visuals that they pick up. And that like, just because somebody's got stoic face doesn't mean they're mad. Yeah. You know, just because somebody's clapping and, and supporting doesn't mean, she's feeling confident at that time and you have to understand how to be. I, I, I think the moral story is, uh, to be versatile.
Kristina Hernandez (01:13:31):
Yeah. So that would be my advice for them coaches. I, I think just like you said, I am constantly listening to podcast or something or learning, trying to constantly watch different. I mean, I watch your little YouTube videos all the time because maybe there's something I can pick up on how I can construct something a little bit different or say something a little bit different. I think trying to learn as much as you can, different styles, different people, different ways. It just, I know that I can pull things from different places to make different decisions. And it helps me feel very confident in what, what I'm doing or what decisions I make, because I've continued to kind of do my due diligence with finding different ways to do stuff or different ways to see something or
Mark Burik (01:14:18):
Which is to say it, you know, so that it rings yeah.
Kristina Hernandez (01:14:20):
Different way to it.
Mark Burik (01:14:21):
A little better for some one athlete. Yeah.
Kristina Hernandez (01:14:24):
I have so many international players and some of them are like, I have no idea what you're talking about. I just don't understand the word that you're saying. So I can find some other way to say it. Even if it's a nonverbal or I have to get better at drawing. Like I had to draw everything out for her because she just like the language barrier. So it's trying to find different ways to say something because everybody responds differently and it's not changing your personality. It's just changing the Q word. That makes sense for them because it can be everything. And then what was the other
Mark Burik (01:14:55):
Group, uh, for the people who were playing, you know, people that are playing, just playing and, and love to have fun, but they definitely want control and wanna be better.
Kristina Hernandez (01:15:03):
Yeah. It's the same thing I said with, with the juniors. I think you just, you've gotta absorb and you've gotta try to learn you. You've gotta be good, being really bad at some point. Like you're not learning unless you're kind of going through that sticky, sticky stuff. First. I think sometimes we go to practice and we wanna feel really good about what we did. And we pat ourselves in the back because we look super awesome at practice. That's never a good practice for us. Like for me, we didn't get anything done. So when we're really good at something we're constantly adding another layer to it of challenge, whether it's focusing more on precision, on, you know, a percentage of, like you said, six out of 10, we focus on that a lot. And then if we're hitting that marker, then what's the new marker that we can hit. That's gonna even more challenge. So there has to be constantly a new layer of challenge when something is hit or gets a little too comfortable and easy, because then it's the same thing. You'll be able to adapt more. Once you start playing and things, don't go particularly with your way. So,
Mark Burik (01:16:08):
And I think focus, right? Like long term focus, right. Is think you can get into those, you know, I'm, I'm sucky at cut shots, uh, at, at cut shots. Well, how many weeks have you spent hitting nothing but cut shots.
Kristina Hernandez (01:16:20):
Mark Burik (01:16:21):
Yeah. Right. I mean, people would like do what they're comfortable with and like, well, I'm not good at that. Well, stop saying, I'm not good at that stop complaining about X situation. You have to actively at some point do something about it. And even if it means committing one weekend to not focusing on winning, but focusing on I'm gonna get a hundred cut shot kills this tournament.
Kristina Hernandez (01:16:40):
Yeah. Yeah. There's definitely a phase like we in the fall and probably the beginning of January for us, that's what we're focused. It's not, it's not just on the winning and looking really good and everything flowing. It's like, we've gotta go through all this, all this messy and rust up, say from a partnership standpoint so that we can get to the good stuff. And then we get to that portion of where we are constantly competing. Then we focusing on managing our weaknesses because we can't spend hours and hours and hours trying to perfect. One little technical imperfection. It's not the time, but we can still figure out how to morph our game to be able to not, not be, you know, not be a problem for us. So like I said, there's different portions of your year or your season where you've gotta be okay with the, that challenge and learning process and dedicating time to what you're not good at. And then also understanding there's a point where you still need to focus on what you are good at and your strengths. And it it's a fine line. But I think sometimes we just wanna feel really good when we practice and it's not, for me, it's not real. Like it's not, it's not real.
Mark Burik (01:17:47):
Yeah. So I think we need those days. Uh, yeah. And, and more often I've been choking to like, Hey, let's do like a one of those kind of pyramid days where instead of, instead of, uh, competing, we're gonna be practicing today until we get a hundred perfect practices. We're not gonna go on percentage on anything. And just that accomplishment, being able to walk home at least one day and say, I did great today. Yeah. You know, that's or, or I got it done in, instead of ironment I think the emotional stores need to be recouped sometimes in those very successful days. And people are always trying to find what's wrong. What's wrong. What's wrong. No, take one day where yeah. You know that it's right. And you just, Hey, look at me. I got a hundred perfect passes today. Yeah. Doesn't matter how many we're bad. . Yeah.
Kristina Hernandez (01:18:35):
And then the other thing on the flip side, there's sometimes where things come out really imperfect, but you still are successful and you've gotta be good with that too. Like my little two CPL, she's like, she has such high expectations of herself. And like, if something trickles off the net, she's like, ah, and I'm like, it's a point. Nobody cares. You still score the point.
Mark Burik (01:18:55):
You're good enough to screw up and win. Yeah.
Kristina Hernandez (01:18:58):
Odds of that happening again are so low, but like just give it to yourself. You don't have to like overanalyze every single thing that wasn't executed perfectly. Because again, it's, it's not real. It's gonna happen. It's a little, gets a little crazy sometimes. So it's, it's like, I think sometimes we just focus on everything. That's just not working. And it's like, okay, well what was the good in that? And then how can I make it a little bit better? But like, let's focus on the part of that. That was actually good. Yeah. And then like, what's the other thing that we can do in that scenario instead of just like, oh, I suck because that's like a horrible response to have. And it it's a response that a lot of people have because they just wanna wanna execute everything all the time and just like everything else.
Kristina Hernandez (01:19:37):
It's, it's just that patience, that patience to work through it. Can you actually do that? It's easy to say it. We talk about it all the time. And then the minute our players start doing something, we get the flailing and you know, all that other stuff. And it's like, you know, again, what's that response that you have because that how you're responding to that is, is your ability to get better regardless of what that outcome was on the other side. Yeah. That will come if you're actually working through that and not giving yourself a hard time about it. Like just again, it's a sweet spot. It's like, that's the fun stuff of finding the stuff that you need to kind of keep tweaking and be like, oh, okay, well that's, that's another part of my game that I can keep getting better at and see it as a good thing. Not as such a negative thing, because it's not, it's just, don't again, our perspective. It's not a negative thing. It's, it's new information. It's new information. And how do I use this information?
Mark Burik (01:20:29):
I like that. Well, seeing how coach Hernandez. Thank you. Yeah. So much. Thank yeah. Great talk.
Kristina Hernandez (01:20:34):
I can sit here and talk to you forever.
Mark Burik (01:20:36):
Great talk. Yeah. There was no slowdown. There was like, I ditched my whole sheet of questions so that I told you how it would go. I was like, yeah, we got questions, but we awesome. Well, yeah. Thank you so much for everybody who's listening. We, we, we've got coach Hernandez's links and, uh, the links to Steon university volleyball down in the show note. So if you want to click and check out and, and support her team, definitely go for it. And uh, if you ever want to come to any of our coaching clinics or take our, uh, online coaching certification, you are more than welcome to come on over to [email protected] and, uh, follow through all the clicks and answer all the questions. We'd love to have you on board. But Christina, I, like I said, I would love, uh, to have another conversation and, and dive even deeper this time we'll like focus on maybe offense or something like that, you know, and lifting and things. So . Yeah, but this was fantastic. And I think everybody's gonna listen to this is gonna absolutely love it.
Kristina Hernandez (01:21:31):
Great. I had a great time and yeah, I would love to be back on. Thanks for having me. Thanks for being here. Yeah. Everybody have a great day.
Mark Burik (01:21:39):
Congrats on all your success. Keep going. Thank
Kristina Hernandez (01:21:41):
You. Okay. Bye.
Mark Burik (01:21:43):