SAN MARCOS, Texas – Texas Tech volleyball captured a straight-set victory over SMU in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship Thursday at Strahan Coliseum on the campus of Texas State.
In their first postseason match since 2001, the Red Raiders (16-14, 4-12) recorded their second-highest attack percentage of the season at .331 en route to the 26-24, 25-23, 25-20 victory. The Red Raiders move on to face the winner of Texas State and Rice in the NIVC second round on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“I’m proud of this group for being the team that did it,” head coach Tony Graystone said of earning another milestone. “All week we could feel that momentum building and the community really on board with us. That part was really fun, and I’m glad that we performed this way.”
Sophomore outside hitters Emily Hill and Chandler Atwood led offensively with 20 and 17 kills, respectively. Hill, who has led the team in kills a team-best 14 times, added 13 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. The duo got it done in an efficient manner as well, combining for a .406 attack percentage.
“We were so good offensively,” Graystone said. “We were siding out at a high level. Emily and Chandler were pretty tough to stop. It was good to see us continue to give them the ball, and we had enough of Sarah and Katy to balance us out. SMU was doing a good job offensively too, so it became a match of who could hold the other off a little bit better. Finally, our serve kicked in, and we got them out of system a lot and were able to separate.”
Engineering the offense was All-Big 12 second team setter Missy Owens, who finished with 48 assists, her most in a three-set match this season. The junior posted her 11th double-double in 2017 with 11 digs and also chipped in five kills and an ace. Defensively, libero Kate Klepetka led the team with 21 digs, and freshman Allison White tallied three blocks.
SMU (21-11, 15-5) was led by Kelly Brunstein’s 13 kills at a .274 clip. The Mustangs hit at a strong .274 clip, committing only 12 total errors for the match to Tech’s 18.
Texas Tech had to fight back in the opening set, trailing by as many as three before saving set point down 24-23. The Red Raiders benefited from a fortunate kill from junior Tita Akiu to even it at 24-24, before Hill closed it out with consecutive kills.
In the second set, Tech was able to find separation late with a 5-1 run that put it up 23-19. Tech held on to the stanza and took a 2-0 lead after a pair of kills from Atwood to wrap up the set.
Tech jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the third before SMU rallied within one at 8-7. The Red Raiders surged back in front by four at 13-9 and maintained a steady lead from there. Owens capped off her strong night with a dump on match point that sealed the win.
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The win moves Tech to the second round set for Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Tech earned its first postseason win since 1995, breaking a four-match skid.
Tech improves to 7-2 all-time against SMU
Tech is now 12-2 this season against out-of-conference foes
The sweep is Tech’s ninth of the season.