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Red Raider Volleyball Opens 2013 Season in Utah

Aug. 29, 2013

Tech Match Notes  |  Tournament Central

• Texas Tech begins its 38th season of volleyball Friday when the Red Raiders kick off the 2013 season against Seattle in the opening match of the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Weber State. Tech will also face UC Riverside on Friday before closing the two-day tournament against Grand Canyon and the host Wildcats on Saturday.
• The Red Raiders will look to continue a successful tradition in season openers as Texas Tech is 29-12 all-time after defeating Fordham to kickoff the 2012 season. Tech is 1-1 all-time in season openers under head coach Don Flora as the Red Raiders fell in the 2011 season opener at TCU.
• The Red Raiders will be among the first Big 12 teams to hit the court and open the 2013 season as Texas Tech's 11 a.m. CT scheduled first serve against Seattle is one of two conference matches to start before noon Friday. Iowa State will also begin its season with an 11 a.m. start against South Dakota State.
• Texas Tech will be facing two first-time opponents this weekend in Grand Canyon and Seattle. The Red Raiders will play a total of six matches this season against first-time opponents as Seattle and Grand Canyon join a group that also includes Washington State (Sept. 6), South Dakota State (Sept. 7), Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 14) and Incarnate Word (Sept. 16).
• Texas Tech has found significant success in non-conference tournaments under Flora, who has led the Red Raiders to a 21-4 mark in such matches during his two seasons. In eight tournament appearances under Flora, Tech has claimed five tournament titles, the program's most in a two-year period since winning six during the 1996-97 seasons.
• Texas Tech boasts its most experienced lineup of Don Flora's tenure as the Red Raiders return three starters from 2012 in Aubree Piper, Emily Ruetter and Breeann David along with libero Rachel Brummitt. Tech also returns regulars from last season in Meghan Stacy, Mikia Mills, Nicole Hragyil as well as Sam Podraza and Brianna Grant.
• Texas Tech head coach Don Flora will be looking to earn his 300th career victory at the collegiate level this weekend as he boasts a 298-94 career record. The third-year head coach has led the Red Raiders to 29 victories in his two seasons, one shy of the program's total from the previous five seasons prior to his arrival.

Season openers have traditionally come easy for the Red Raiders, who are 29-13 all-time in such matches and 1-1 under third-year head coach Don Flora entering this weekend's Wildcat Invitational. Texas Tech topped Fordham in four sets a year ago to kickoff the 2012 season at the Boston College Invitational where the Red Raiders eventually wrapped the weekend 4-0 to claim the tournament title. The Red Raiders have not opened back-to-back seasons with a win since the 2002-04 seasons when Tech topped Fairfield, Sam Houston State and San Diego State.

The Red Raiders return to Lubbock next week to open their home slate Tuesday evening with a 6 p.m. first serve against Abilene Christian. It will be the first of two matches for Tech against the Wildcats as the Red Raiders will travel to Abilene for a 6:30 p.m. match on Sept. 10 at Moody Coliseum.

This will be Texas Tech's first trip to the state of Utah since 2001 when the Red Raiders took part in the season-opening tournament hosted by the University of Utah. Tech went 2-2 in that event with victories over Rhode Island and TCU and losses to both Georgia Tech and the host Utes. The Red Raiders have never played this weekend's host, Weber State, on its home floor as Tech is 5-2 all-time against the Wildcats with all seven matches taking place at a neutral site. Tech is 3-2 when facing Weber State inside its home state with all three victories taking place in nearby Provo, the site of Brigham Young University (BYU). This will be the first time Tech and Weber State have faced each other since Sept. 11, 1993, when the Red Raiders took a 3-1 victory in Spokane, Wash.

Red Raider head coach Don Flora will be aiming for win No. 300 of his career this weekend as he enters the Wildcat Invitational with a 298-94 overall record in 13 combined seasons at both the University of La Verne in California as well as Texas Tech. Flora, arguably one of the winningest active coaches at the Division-I level, has led Tech to 29 victories over the past two seasons after inheriting a program that totaled just 30 wins in the five seasons prior to his arrival. The California native heads into the 2013 season ranked fourth among Big 12 Conference coaches in career victories, trailing only Ray Bechard (Kansas), Jerritt Elliott (Texas) and Jim Barnes (Baylor). All three coaches have longer career tenures than Flora, who arrived in Lubbock after two seasons as an assistant at New Mexico State and 11 years as the head coach of his alma mater in La Verne where he amassed a 269-59 record (.820 winning percentage) and led the Leopards to the 2001 NCAA Division III National Championship.

Texas Tech will look to continue its dominance over non-conference foes this weekend as the Red Raiders are a combined 25-7 against out-of-league opponents under third-year head coach Don Flora. Tech went 14-2 against non-conference opponents in Flora's first season before turning in an 11-5 mark a year ago. During that span, Tech has gone a perfect 7-0 when hosting non-conference action at the United Spirit Arena and 11-2 when playing at a neutral site. Tech's only two losses on at a neutral site came in 2012 against Towson in the Montana Tournament and then Cal State Northridge the next weekend at the Rice Invitational.

When Aubree Piper looks walks across the court later this season on Senior Night, she will be the only player on Tech's 19-person roster to receive flowers and framed jersey. The four-year senior, who has started in 52 matches the past three seasons, will be Tech's leader both on the court and in the locker room for a program that despite returning 12 letterwinners also boasts seven newcomers. Piper enters her senior season with 440 career kills to go along with 174 total blocks and a .242 career hitting percentage. She ended 2012 with a .312 hitting percentage, which ranked ninth in school history for a single season. The Amarillo, Texas native is Tech's most experienced returner, having played in 72 career matches despite battling various injuries throughout her career.

After a record-breaking inaugural season in scarlet and black, the best question pertaining to Rachel Brummitt might just be what can she do next? The junior libero shattered the Tech single-season record in 2012 with 510 digs from the back row, finishing with 62 more than previous record holder Melissa McGehee (2000). The Plano, Texas native wrapped the 2012 season ranked fourth in the Big 12 for digs per set (4.32), trailing only Kristin Hahn (Iowa State), Brianne Riley (Kansas) and Maria Fernanda (Oklahoma). A similar, if not better, performance this year would already place Brummitt near the top 10 on the Tech career chart as well as Ginger Carter currently sits in 10th place with 1,092 digs from the 1991-94 seasons. Lisa Hilgers owns the Tech career record for digs after totaling 1,583 from 1995-98 that also ranks ninth in Big 12 history entering the 2013 season as well.



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