LUBBOCK, Texas – Career nights from sophomores Emily Hill and Chandler Atwood helped the Red Raiders earn a 3-1 win over West Virginia Wednesday night in Tech's Big 12 home opener at United Supermarkets Arena.
Hill posted a career-high 26 kills along with 11 digs while Atwood connected on a career-high 16 kills as Tech (12-3, 1-1) earned its first Big 12 win of the season, 25-20, 25-27, 25-22, 26-24. For the Mountaineers (12-4, 1-2), it is their first loss of the season against a team outside of the top 10.
"We keep telling the players they've done everything there is to do except finish the job and get the win," head coach Tony Graystone said. "At the end of the match it was more that we just wanted it so bad. West Virginia made some great plays and saved points. Emerson (Solano) goes down, we regroup and it's just point-point and it's over. I was really happy all night with how we responded, fought ourselves off and stayed out of our own way."
The Red Raiders have their third win of the season against Power-5 Competition following a pair of four-set victories over Clemson and South Carolina at the Clemson Challenge. Tech remains the Big 12's only unbeaten team on its home court at 5-0 and improves to 3-0 on the year in matches following a loss.
The Red Raiders were once again without Preseason All-Big 12 libero Reyn Akiu, but got great all-around efforts from senior Kate Klepetka and freshman Emerson Solano in Akiu's place. Klepetka finished with a season-high 24 digs, and Solano, an Amarillo, Texas, native, added nine of her own.
Junior Missy Owens compiled a season-best 52 digs and flirted with a triple double at six kills and eight assists. She engineered a Red Raider attack that hit .250 for the second consecutive match, which marks the seventh outing since 2009 Tech has hit .250 or better in a Big 12 contest. Hill's .345 clip led the team with Atwood right behind at .293.
Tech seized control of the match early on, using a 9-2 run midway through the first set to take a 19-13 lead. Junior Katy Keenan would close it out with one of her six kills to give Tech a 1-0 advantage.
The Red Raiders held four set points in the second set, but West Virginia was able to mount a rally and take the frame 27-25.
The third frame was back-and-forth until the late stages when Tech turned an 18-16 deficit into a 23-20 lead. A kill from freshman Allison White and combined block by White and Keenan ignited the 7-2 run, and Atwood would be the one to finish the set with her 12th kill of the match.
The fourth set was a see-saw affair that witnessed Tech going from down 14-10 to up 24-20. The Mountaineers dug deep to pull to within 24-24 on a point where Solano went flying into the seats, sacrificing her body to keep a ball alive. After she was tended to and helped off the court, the Red Raiders responded with Hill's eighth kill of the frame before Atwood sealed the win.
The win is Tech's first four-set win over a Big 12 opponent since 2014 (TCU).
The Red Raiders are 3-0 this season in matches immediately following a loss.
Hill's double-double (26 kills, 11 digs) is her fourth of the season and first in Big 12 play.
Hill is the first Red Raider since Jenna Allen in 2014 to record 20+ kills and 10+ digs in a match.
Tech improves to 7-8 all-time against West Virginia and 3-4 in Lubbock. Tech has won three of the last five contests against WVU overall.
Head Coach Tony Graystone improves to 462-183 all-time and 22-24 at Tech.
Tech improves to 8-14 all-time in Big 12 home openers.
Senior Kate Klepetka made her third straight start at Libero filling in for the injured Tita Akiu
Freshman Emerson Solano made her second straight start, joining middle blocker Allison White as one of two true freshmen in the starting lineup. White has started every match.
The Red Raiders host No. 18 Iowa State Friday, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m. at United Supermarkets Arena. The Cyclones (10-2, 1-1) fell at No. 11 Kansas in five sets (25-27, 20-25, 25-16, 15-11) Wednesday night after holding a 2-0 lead. Tech is looking for its first win in 22 tries against Iowa State Friday. The Cyclones are the first ranked opponent for the Red Raiders this season.