The variety of Texas Tech sports are living a superb period. We all remember men’s basketball appearance in the national championship last season. Now they’re ranked at no. 13 in the preseason poll, undoubtedly alluding to another interesting year. Under Tom Stone, women’s soccer is quickly climbing the national rankings. There’s a good chance that they’ll receive their seventh NCAA Tournament berth in eight years. Then men’s track and field program sits as the reigning national champion under the guidance of Wes Kittley. There’s also baseball, which has time and time again proven to the nation that - yes - Texas Tech is a sphere ball school. Tim Tadlock shows no signs of slowing down on the recruiting trail or in the conference race. Then golf, softball, meat judging, pom, and dance are always bringing home titles and accolades.
There’s just one other program that has been continually rising; like a long-term Cinderella. We’re talking about Texas Tech Volleyball.
This program used to be one of the worst sports representing the Double-T this millennium. Before coach Graystone’s arrival in 2016 the last winning record dated back to 2001 and the last year with more Ws than Ls in the Big 12 was 2000. From 2007 to 2011, the team went 4-92 in Big XII play (that’s no mistake - it was really 4-92. I checked three times). Since his arrival in Lubbock, Graystone immedaitely steered the program back on course. The 2016 season was a transition year, understandably, and held a 10-21 record with a 0-16 in the Big XII. Yet, as these things do, things started to click.
In 2017 the Red Raiders finished the regular season 15-14 (4-12 in Big XII). This was enough to get a NIVC berth. The team got the best from it, winning four games and losing to Ole Miss in the tournament final. The seed of success had been planted. In 2018 the record steadily climbed at an impressive 19-15, then 6-12 in the conference. That brings us to the now. With the players he recruited and the gameplan he trusts, Graystone is on pace to have on of the best years in Texas Tech Volleyball history.
At the moment, the team is 14-7 overall and, most importantly, has a positive record in conference play. After losing to Baylor, who is ranked first nationally, the conference record is 4-3. Here’s some of the achievement the Red Raiders reached this season
- three wins out of the games in the Sports Imports Classic;
- victory in the Red Raider Classic tournament;
- second-ever sweep over Kansas State;
- first win at Iowa State since 2004;
- OH/RS Catlin Dugan was named Big 12 Volleyball Rookie of the Week.
Another thing to note is the implementation and importance of underclassmen in the system. For instance, the leading scorer is senior Emily Hill, but she’s followed by sophomore Brooke Kanas and the abovementioned Caitlin Dugan. Setter Alex Kirby is a sophomore with much potential, Sophomore Katy Northcut and freshman Lindsey Dodson are two efficient specialists of the back row.
The next game is scheduled on Saturday, at 1 p.m. against Oklahoma in Lubbock. The Sooners sit at 5-2 in the Big XII. If Graystone and company can edge out the Sooners, it would allow Texas Tech to sit at third in the conference. With the football game at 6pm in Lawrence, these ladies deserve any and all Red Raiders cheering on their efforts.