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The Red Raiders are set to begin Big 12 play on Saturday.

September 23, 2011

by Meredith Hillgartner
Texas Tech Athletics Communications

With a 13-1 record the Texas Tech Volleyball team is preparing to open conference play this weekend against nationally-ranked Iowa State. First serve for the Big 12 home opener is set for 1 p.m. inside the United Spirit Arena.

Currently positioned as the top team in the conference, Tech swept the UT Arlington-Hilton Invitational last weekend.

Head coach Don Flora said the team has gained valuable experience playing in the season's earlier tournaments.

"They're prepping us because we [had] to play multiple times in a day," Flora said. "We're seeing a lot of different styles and within the Big 12 there are different styles of offenses and defenses.

"We're not going to shy away from anybody. We want to go play the best every year and the conference affords us that, and we'll be getting to do that as we grow this program."

"We've been playing different styles of teams that help us prepare for what we're going to see in the Big 12. That being said the Big 12 is another echelon, and we know we're going to have to continue to make progress in a lot of areas to be an elite Big 12 team this year."

Becoming that elite program is not the only goal the team has set, but they have also set their sights on reaching post-season play--something that hasn't been done since 2001.

Flora said that target has been in the team's discussion but can only be achieved if they develop into an elite Big 12 team.

"We've talked about building a bridge to be in that elite program," Flora said. "Once you're an elite program then you can talk about what it means to be a national championship type team. That's part of the beauty of the Big 12. Once we're an elite program in the Big 12, we're an elite program in the country."

Opening against Iowa State, Flora said the team is confident, and ready to put their hard work to the test against one of the best teams they may play all year.

"I think we have an opportunity to go measure our progress," Flora said. "The thing is we're not going to shy away from anybody. We want to go play the best every year and the conference affords us that, and we'll be getting to do that as we grow this program."

Senior outside hitter, Amanda Dowdy, said the team has been pushing themselves and building their confidence and looking forward to playing Iowa State.

"Knowing that we can go on the road and we can beat these teams is good," Dowdy said. "Playing on our home court and Iowa State is a very good team, so it'll be good."

To say the Red Raiders are excited for conference to start would be an understatement.

"We are prepared," freshman Breeann David said with a smile. "We're excited, we're ready to start conference. Right now we're playing teams that we don't usually play. You don't have that rivalry of conference yet. I'm really excited to start that and see how it is to play."




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