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Historic volleyball season comes to end in Madison

MADISON, Wisc. – Texas Tech volleyball’s historic season came to a heartbreaking end Friday night in Madison, Wisconsin as the Red Raiders fell to the FGCU Eagles in five sets in the first round of the NCAA Championship.

It was the tale of two halves for the Red Raiders who began the match strong, before the Eagles picked up the reverse sweep, hitting .449 in the final three sets to come from behind for the win.

Tech began the match outhitting FGCU .262 to -.013 through the first two frames. The Eagles edged the Red Raiders in blocks, 13-12 and services aces 7-5, while Tech tallied more kills (59-51) and digs (64-51).

Kenna Sauer finished with a double-double of 18 kills and 18 digs, adding three blocks and two aces for 21.5 points. Reagan Cooper tallied 14 kills and Karrington Jones posted 10 to put three Red Raiders at double-digit kills. Jones also managed a season-best nine blocks, one short of tying her career-high. KJ Adams matched Sauer with 18 digs to tie for the Red Raider lead and finish the season with 485, sixth most in single-season program history. Alex Kirby’s 52 assists pushed her career total to 2,519, ninth most by any Red Raider.

The Red Raiders handedly took the first set 25-14, holding the Eagles to a -.029 hitting clip in the opening frame. Tech gave FGCU trouble from the service line with three aces, two coming from Alex Torres. Tech struck first, leading 6-2 on a four-point run to force an early timeout. Back-to-back aces from Torres and a block from Brooke Kanas and Sauer made it 13-6, Red Raiders. Tech continued to pull ahead with an ace from Jones to go up 20-11 and closed out the set winning five of the next seven points.

Tech continued to look strong in the second set, taking a 2-0 advantage in the match after capturing a 25-16 win. Sauer and Caitlin Dugan each tallied four kills in the set to lead the way. The Red Raiders separated themselves with a 6-0 run to make it 18-10 as FGCU took a timeout. Tech reached the 20-point mark on an ace from Sauer, the fourth of the match for the team. Kanas ended the set with a kill, her fifth of the match.

FGCU shifted the momentum in the third, winning a back-and-forth set 25-23. The Eagles led 15-14 media timeout and pulled ahead further with a 4-1 run to make it 19-15. After a timeout, the Red Raiders began fighting their way back winning seven of the next nine points to take a 22-21 lead. A three-point swing gave the lead back to FGCU and created set point, 24-22. Tech fought off one set point before the Eagles extended the match with a kill to take the third set.

The Eagles carried the momentum over into the fourth set, winning a commanding 25-15. Tech fell behind early and could not climb its way out of a hole, down 18-10 after a 12-4 run. FGCU won six of the final eight points to force a fifth set.

It was all FGCU in the fifth set, jumping out to a five-point lead to start the frame and force Tech to use a timeout down 6-1 after an ace. An overturned challenge increased the Eagles’ lead to seven, 10-3, and FGCU was able to hold off Tech’s late attempt at a comeback to win the set 15-7 and end the Red Raiders’ season.

Tech finished the season with a 17-13 record, earning its first appearance to the NCAA Tournament in 20 years. The Red Raiders played in nine five-set matches, tying the most by a Texas Tech team since 2006. Tech went 3-6 in those matches, with losses to Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State and FGCU and wins over NC State, Baylor and West Virginia. Tech’s 7-9 record in Big 12 play matched the program high under head coach Tony Graystone, who is now 89-88 (.502) during his six seasons in Lubbock, the highest winning percentage for a head coach since Jeff Nelson (166-96, .634).


Release provided by Katie Moseley Texas Tech Athletics

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