With the Red Raiders volleyball team in the middle of their Italian trip, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to spend two days alongside the team. So, I could watch the two games Texas Tech played in Milan, and I had the enormous fortune to talk to coach Tony Graystone, who answered our questions with passion and patience.
This was possible thanks to the work of Director of Operations Micheal Hobson, which I won’t thank enough for the time he spent to allow me to have this interview. So, let’s start!
What do you think about the game you had against the Italian National team “B”?
Yes, they were a very good serving team, a lot more top serves then we’re used to face, and they were very physical. But I feel we played pretty well and we just have to take care better of these serves.
How is this travel in Italy going? Do you like our country?
It is everything we wanted to be, we’re having so much fun, seeing a lot of things. We’re seeing different parts of Italy, different cities, and we are excited about that.
Spring is usually a transition period, with players going, players coming and the regular season still far away. But the team performed well both at the Texas Tech Spring Tournament and the West Texas A&M Tournament. Are you satisfied with what you have seen so far?
Yes, we had a lot of injuries this spring, so it has been hard for us to get one group together for a long time. Even right now we have three players who are out, including one of our starters, so we are not physically where we want to be. But the team is pretty good, good leadership, so we feel we are heading in the right direction.
What kind of feelings are you obtaining from the freshmen both on and off the court? Did they integrate into the team?
We are playing a lot of freshmen right now, two middle blockers are freshmen, our setter is a freshman, many players are young. We have a young team overall but the signals are very good.
This summer, Brooke Kanas will spend an entire week with the U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team. In addition, Emily Hill and Alex Kirby participated in the Open Tryouts in March. What does this mean for you, for the team and for the school?
Brooke making the U.S. team is a big deal, she’s definitely one of the best freshmen in the country. It was a big surprise she made the team, she’s going to do pretty well when she will be healthy. She is not playing this week for a stress fracture and we are trying to heal her in time for that week. Emily did the trials for three years, she’s familiar with that process and this was the first time for Alex. I think year by year we will have always more players spend time in this process.
At the beginning of May, you announced the schedule for 2019. And you wanted to have some strong opponents. Why?
We think we have a pretty good team this year and we are trying to get into the NCAA Tournament. The only way to do that is having a good preseason, a good non-conference schedule, we have to play better teams. Year by year we are trying to have a better schedule and this will be a tough one. This one will get us ready.
Recently, you signed an extension that will keep you in Lubbock until 2023. What’s your feeling about this? Do you consider it more a point of arrival or a start for a new and more exciting period?
This is where I want to be. I love Texas Tech, Lubbock is my wife’s hometown, I have a my family there. I didn’t come here just to build a program but to stay here for a long time. So I’m excited they wanted me to be here for a while and we just keep moving forward.
- Are there some aspects of the program you would like to improve even more?
Year by year we want to keep building with better and better talent, and that’s a big thing. We are getting a little bigger, a little more size on our roster, but we really like the culture, the team itself, the players we are bringing in, what their personalities are. Our coaching staff is really good at developing them. We just want to keep moving forward and getting better year by year. I think we have got all the pieces in place.
- What are your expectations for this 2019 season?
We definitely want to make one more jump within our conference, we were really close to be taken into consideration for the NCAA Tournament and that’s our goal for this year. We have got a little more work to do. But this is a good team, we are gonna have a good run to it.