LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech volleyball will make its first appearance in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship on Thursday, Nov. 30, when it takes on SMU in the opening round of the tournament. First serve is slated for 4 p.m., inside Strahan Coliseum in San Marcos, Texas.
The Red Raiders (15-14, 4-12) were selected as an at-large team to the NIVC Sunday evening, marking their first postseason appearance since 2001. Texas State (24-9, 14-2 Sun Belt) will host Rice (21-8, 11-3 C-USA) Thursday evening in the other first round match, with the winners to square off Friday at 6:30 p.m.
A free live stream will be available at www.TXStateBobcats.com while live stats can be found on Statbroadcast.
"The NIVC gives us a chance to take that next step and see what the postseason is all about," head coach Tony Graystone said. "It's great to give these players a taste of what it's like to be in postseason and play for a tournament championship and use this as a springboard hopefully into the offseason. The next step is getting into the NCAA Tournament. We have accomplished a lot on our list, but we still have more to do."
Texas Tech and SMU (21-10, 15-5 AAC) will meet for the ninth time in the history of the two programs. Tech holds a 6-2 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to 1996. The Mustangs, however, have claimed each of the last two meetings in 2010 and 2007.
The Red Raiders finished in a tie for sixth in the Big 12 Conference, exceeding their projected ninth-place finish by three spots. It is the highest position for Tech in the final Big 12 standings since 2002. The Red Raiders closed the regular season with a winning record for the first time since 2001 and matched the program's most Big 12 wins since 2006.
Sophomore outsides Emily Hill and Chandler Atwood lead the team in kills with 348 and 305, respectively. Junior setter Missy Owens was named 2017 All-Big 12 Second Team after tallying 1025 assists during the regular season and 10 double-doubles. Junior middle Katy Keenan is the team's most efficient hitter with a .326 clip, while freshman middle Allison White leads the team in blocks at 0.95 per set.
After a straight-set win at TCU on Nov. 15 that gave Tech a season-sweep of the Horned Frogs, the Red Raiders fell to a pair of ranked opponents in the final week of Big 12 play. SMU, meanwhile, enters the NIVC following a split of two matches in three days against Tulsa.
SMU finished third in the American Athletic Conference and ranks No. 77 in the NCAA RPI. The Mustangs are led by Lauren Mills and Brittany Adams, both of whom have racked up over 300 kills, 20 service aces, 50 blocks and 300 digs, respectively. SMU hits .202 as a team, averaging 13.4 kills, 18 digs and 2.3 blocks per set.
Overall, the NIVC San Marcos Regional is the second-toughest regional according to average NCAA RPI of the four teams. Regional-host Texas State earned an automatic bid to the NIVC after finishing as the runner-up in the Sun Belt and sports an RPI of 69. Rice finished third in the C-USA and comes in at No. 73 in the NCAA RPI.
While this marks Tech's first trip to the NIVC, the Red Raiders have played in eight NCAA Tournaments. The Red Raiders are 3-8 overall in postseason competition during the NCAA era with their last win coming in 1995. The Red Raiders advanced as far as the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1990, 1991 and 1995. With a win Thursday, Tech would advance past the first round of a postseason tournament for the first time in five tries and play its first match in December since 1998.
Worth noting, round three of the NIVC will take place Dec. 1-3, followed by the semifinals from Dec. 4-9. The Championship match is scheduled for Dec. 12 with a live broadcast on WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Each match in the tournament is hosted by one of the remaining schools.
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