DENTON, Texas – After a change in plans for opening weekend, Texas Tech finally got a chance to hit the court for its season opener Saturday, and came away with an impressive 3-1 victory over North Texas at the North Texas Volleyball Center in Denton.
The Red Raiders (1-0) outhit the Mean Green (1-1) .205 to .172 as three Red Raiders recorded double digit kills, leading Tech to a 25-20, 25-16, 22-25, 25-22 victory.
"This was a crazy week that ended with the best possible outcome," head coach Tony Graystone said. "With so many unknowns and adjusting on the fly, I give the players a lot of credit for being flexible, adapting and taking on this challenge. This was nontraditional to say the least.
"North Texas is a good team. They're fast on offense and really physical, and we were up for the challenge. I liked our block today and I liked our outside hitters. Missy did a good job running the offense, our ball control was money today, and serve-receive was right there and I felt like that was the difference."
The Red Raiders were originally slated to play four matches this weekend at the Barcelona HBU Classic in Houston; however, Houston Baptist cancelled the event Friday morning due to the potential impact of Hurricane Harvey.
The Red Raiders suffered no ill effects from the unconventional weekend, holding control throughout the majority of the first set and dominating the second set en route to a 2-0 lead. Tech hit just .067 in the third set, allowing the Mean Green to close the gap, but Tech put it away with a strong close in the fourth.
Sophomore Emily Hill, a transfer from Mississippi State and Denton native, posted a double-double with a match-high 17 kills and 11 digs while adding four block assists and a pair of aces. Junior Sarah Redding recorded 14 kills and sophomore Chandler Atwood went for a career-high 13 kills, while junior setter Missy Owens shined in her Red Raider debut with 45 assists, five kills and four assists.
Defensively, junior libero Reyn Akiu tallied a match-high 21 digs, while middle blockers Katy Keenan and Allison White were stout at the net as they combined for eight block assists and three solo blocks.
The Red Raiders have won their season opener for the third time in four years
The win breaks a three-match non-conference losing streak and 19 match losing streak dating back to last season
The win for Tech is a rare home loss for North Texas, which falls to 41-17 at home under head coach Andrew Palileo
Several newcomers made their Red Raider debuts, including senior Kate Klepetka, junior Missy Owens, sophomore Emily Hill and freshman Allison White.
Freshman Emerson Solano traveled, but did not play due to illness.
Junior Katy Keenan's five block assists tied a career high.
Sophomore Chandler Atwood's 13 kills set a new career high.
The Red Raiders will travel west next week, first stopping in El Paso, Texas, for a matchup with UTEP on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. CT. Tech then heads to the Golden State for three matches at the Cal Classic Friday-Saturday, Sept. 1-2, in Berkely, Calif.
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