OXFORD, Miss. – An incredible season came to a close Tuesday night as the Texas Tech volleyball team fell at Ole Miss, 3-0, in the championship match of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship inside Gillom Athletic Performance Center in Oxford, Miss.
The Red Raiders finish with their first winning season since 2001 at 19-15 overall after piling up four wins in the NIVC to reach Tuesday’s title bout. Ole Miss proved too tough at home as the Rebels claimed the title with a 25-17, 25-15, 25-19 victory.
“We’re definitely disappointed,” head coach Tony Graystone said. “This isn’t what we came here for. But, it’s not going to take the shine off of what we’ve done and how far we’ve come this year. Ole Miss played better than us tonight, and they deserved it.”
Sophomore Emily Stroup led Ole Miss (22-14) with a match-high 17 kills on her way to Tournament MVP honors. Ole Miss’s Caroline Adams and Kate Gibson were also named to the All-Tournament team.
Senior Kate Klepetka and junior Missy Owens represented Tech on the NIVC All-Tournament team. Klepetka recorded a team-high 15 digs to finish the tournament with an average of 5.41 per set. Owens, meanwhile, tallied 25 assists, four digs and three kills Tuesday to wrap up the event at 11.29 assists per set and engineer an offense that hit .254 over its five-match run.
Sophomore Chandler Atwood led the Red Raiders in kills with 11 on the night. Tech, however, was limited to just .114 hitting while Ole Miss connected at a .276 clip. Tech held a strong presence at the net, outblocking Ole Miss 6-5.
“Chandler got it going offensively at the end of the match,” Graystone said. “I thought our block overall wasn’t bad. Missy and Kate were what they’ve been all along. We just didn’t have enough there consistently to get it done.”
After being picked to finish last in the Big 12, Texas Tech finished with 19 wins in Graystone’s second season for a sixth-place finish in the Big 12 standings and its highest win total since 2000. With only one senior departing, Tech returns a wealth of experience heading in to 2018, including a pair of All-Big 12 Second Team honorees in Owens (2017) and junior Reyn Akiu (2016).
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With 15 digs, senior Kate Klepetka finished with 481 on the year, which ranks sixth on the school’s single-season digs list. She posted 2,254 for her collegiate career.
With 25 assists, junior Missy Owens surpassed 1,200 for her second season in a row.
Sophomore Chandler Atwood’s team-high 11 kills mark the 14th time she has led the team in kills this season.
The Red Raiders fall to 1-2 all-time against the Rebels.
Tech played every match in the NIVC away from home, while Ole Miss hosted all five of their postseason matches.
Tech finishes 14-3 this season against non-conference opponents, including 1-2 against the SEC.