1996 in Review
When Jeff Nelson arrived two seasons ago, he set a goal of building a national championship-caliber volleyball program at Texas Tech University. After two years, that goal could soon become a reality.
With two-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and an impressive 46-win total, it appears he is well on his way towards achieving his goal.
In 1996, the Red Raiders won 25 matches and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season and the fifth time in school history. The 25 wins were the most for a Red Raider team since 1990. Also, Texas Tech was the first Big 12 team to reach the 20-win plateau in the league's first year.
The Raiders were also ranked in the AVCA/USA Today and Volleyball Magazine top-25 for the majority of the season. Tech finished No. 26 in the AVCA/USA Today poll. Tech also won four tournament titles along the way including its first Red Raider Classic championship since 1991. Other tournament titles included the Nevada-Taco Bell, New Mexico State Roadrunner and Northwest Times Invitationals.
Senior Jill Burness completed her career as a Red Raider as one of the most accomplished players in school history. She was named the GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. Burness set school records in hitting for a season and career and recorded at least one block in each of the 67 matches she played during her Red Raider career. Also, senior Christine Martin set a school record for most aces in a season with 55.
A win over nationally-ranked and defending national champion Nebraska highlighted a 12-8 record and 6th-place finish in the first season of the Big 12. Other top-flight wins included victories over Kansas State, as well as come-from-behind wins over Colorado and Baylor.
Texas Tech also set records for attendance as it doubled its previous year's totals. Attendance topped the 10,000-mark for the season for the first time ever and the Red Raiders also had five matches that exceeded 1,000-mark in attendance. The Raiders also notched the best attendance increase in NCAA Division I from 1995 to 1996 as they climbed 28 spots from No. 56 to 28th overall.