LUBBOCK, Texas – Head coach Tony Graystone picked up the 500th victory of his career as the Texas Tech volleyball team clipped the Kansas Jayhawks in a 3-2, come-from-behind win on Wednesday at United Supermarkets Arena.
The Red Raiders’ come-from-behind stinger marked the first Tech victory against the Jayhawks since Oct. 2, 2010. That performance was another thrilling five-setter that took place at the USA. Three Red Raiders tallied double-digit kills and Emerson Solano was a stronghold for Tech’s back line as she raked in 22 digs.
Caitlin Dugan and Emily Hill paced Tech with 16 kills each and sophomore Brooke Kanas was the other Red Raider to finish in double digits with 13 kills against the Jayhawks. Hill, who was just one dig short from joining the 1,000 career-dig club, finished the five-setter with 13 digs. Freshman Lindsey Dodson made her presence known as well thanks to 10 digs on the night.
Tech’s approach to the net was downright relentless. Red Raiders combined for 15 total team blocks and six student-athletes jumped in on the blocking action. Karrington Jones and Kanas were the two Red Raiders to record solo blocks and Jones continued to stonewall the Jayhawks thanks to her nine block assists. Setter Alex Kirby, who finished the night with a career-high 53 assists, jumped in line and racked up six block assists. Dugan and Allison White both notched four block assists against the Jayhawks, Kanas connected on two and Hill finished the night with one.
With the win, the Red Raiders move to 14-6 on the season and 4-2 in Big 12 play.
After both teams started the match neck-and-neck, three consecutive kills from Dugan lifted Tech to an early 6-3 lead. The Jayhawks interrupted with one quick point but a solo block from Jones and a block assist – via Jones and Kirby – held the Red Raiders’ lead at 8-4. Two Kansas errors and an ace from Hill gave Tech a six-point advantage at 11-5, but the Jayhawks came back and used a 13-3 run to jump ahead 18-14. After a Kansas attack error, a huge block from Kanas and Jones sparked a shift in the momentum that Tech would ride out to the end of the set. Tech used a Kansas error to tie the set, 20-20, and two more quick points gave the Red Raiders a two-point lead. The Jayhawks answered with a pair of points but kills from Hill and Kanas, as well as a Kansas attack error gave Tech a 1-0 lead with a 25-22 win in the first.
The Red Raiders stalled in the second stanza and Kansas evened up the match, 1-1, with a 25-16 win. Tech fell behind 13-9 and tried to claw their way back in the set on a strong kill from Kanas from the right side. A bad set from the Jayhawks’ Sara Nielsen brought the match within three points at 15-12, but Tech couldn’t hang on and Kansas used a 10-4 run to close out the second set.
Set three was a grind from start to finish. The two squads tied each other three separate times before Kansas went ahead 7-4. Down by seven points, Tech started to chip away at the Jayhawks lead after a Kansas error and back-to-back blocks from White, Dugan, Hill and Jones made it a four-point set. Kanas threw up a solo block to cut the Jayhawks’ lead down, 17-14, and consecutive kills from the outside hitter and Kirby cut Tech’s deficit down to two. Back-to-back aces from sophomore Katy Northcut tied up the match at 20 points apiece and Tech took its third lead of the set thanks to a monster block in the middle by White and Dugan. The Red Raiders moved to a 23-22 advantage, but Kansas recorded a pair of points to move to set point. A timely Kansas service error evened the set, 24-24, and an even more timely ace from Hill moved Tech to set point at 25-24. However, a pair of Tech errors and a kill from the Jayhawks’ Zoe Hill ended the third set and Kansas stole a 27-25 win in the third to move to 2-1.
In Tech’s biggest set victory of the season, the Red Raiders stunned the Jayhawks and took an early 11-1 lead right out of the gate. Highlighted by a pair of Dodson aces, Tech strung together five unanswered points to start the equalizer. After one quick Kansas interruption, the Red Raiders connected on six straight points to further their lead. The two squads traded points, but a dominant kill from Kanas on the right side pushed Tech’s lead to 11 at 14-3. Dugan broke up a pair of Jayhawk points with a slam on the right side and three consecutive points – kills from Hill, Dugan and Jones – extended Tech’s lead to 12. Another Hill kill moved Tech into 20-point territory and Kanas buried another kill two possessions later to make it a 21-9 set. Kills from Kanas and Dugan, as well as a block from White and Dugan, moved the Red Raiders to set point and one final blow from White sealed Tech’s 25-13 win – neutralizing the match at two sets apiece. The Red Raiders hit a monstrous .467 with 17 kills against the Jayhawks.
Feeding off the energy of a rowdy home crowd, Tech jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the do-or-die set thanks to a block effort from Jones and Kirby, as well as kills from Hill, Jones, Kanas and White. In dramatic fashion, Kansas clawed their way back into the set and posted four straight points to tie everything up at 7-all. A commanding kill from Dugan and Northcut’s third ace of the match put Tech ahead 9-7, but Kansas kept pushing and tied up the set once more. Tech caught a break when Dugan buried a kill and teamed up with Jones for a strong block on the right side. After that, Kansas helped the Red Raiders after they committed their 26th attack error of the contest. The teams swapped points until a Hill kill moved Tech to set point at 14-11. With the crowd at United Supermarkets Arena on their feet, the Red Raiders forced one final Kansas error and Tech came away victorious with a 3-2 win over Kansas.
The Red Raiders will ride their momentum into Waco, Texas, where they will take on the No. 1 ranked Baylor Bears on Saturday, Oct. 19.