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Tech Women's Volleyball Heads To Hawaii For NCAA Tournament

Colleen Smith set a school record with 533 kills this season.
Colleen Smith set a school record with 533 kills this season.

Nov. 27, 2000

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Game Information:
Texas Tech vs. Utah - First Round
Thursday, Nov. 30, 2000, 5 p.m. (HST)
Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

Game Information:
Davidson vs. Hawaii - First Round
Thursday, Nov. 30, 2000, 7 p.m. (HST)
Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

Winner of Tech-Utah vs. Davidson-Hawaii
Friday, Dec. 1, 2000, 7 p.m. (HST)
Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

Series Record vs. Utah: Utah leads the all-time series 5-2
Series Record vs. Davidson: No previous meetings
Series Record vs. Hawaii: No previous meetings
Head Coach Jeff Nelson vs. Utah: Texas Tech Head Coach Jeff Nelson is 0-1 against the Utah Utes.
Last Meeting with Utah: Texas Tech hosted the Utah Utes during the 1999 Red Raider Classic. Utah posted a three-game win (15-17, 0-15, 12-15) to win the tournament.
Radio/TV/Webcast in Hawaii: None/None/

The Texas Tech volleyball team was rewarded with a bid to the NCAA Tournament following a very successful season in which the Red Raiders went 24-8. Texas Tech will play Utah on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. (HST) in Honolulu, Hawaii. The winner of the game will move on to face the winner of the Davidson-Hawaii match at 7 p.m. (HST) on Friday, Dec. 1.

Tech's NCAA bid is the seventh in school history. The Red Raiders last went to the tournament in 1998 where they bowed out to Ohio State in the first-round. Head Coach Jeff Nelson has guided the Red Raiders to four NCAA Tournaments in his five seasons at Texas Tech.

For the first time in school history, the Red Raiders will leave the continental United States for a season match. Texas Tech will play in the Hawaii sub-regional against the Utah Utes on Thursday. Texas Tech traveled to Italy during the summer of 1997 to prepare for the season marking the first overseas trip for the Tech volleyball team.

The Texas Tech volleyball team gave seniors Colleen Smith and Janelle Jones a memorable home finale as Texas Tech cruised to a 15-2, 15-7, 15-5 win over Iowa State on Sat. Nov. 25 at the United Spirit Arena.

Seniors Colleen Smith and Janelle Jones led the Texas Tech attack with a combined 23 kills and 13 digs. Smith tallied 15 kills and a .480 hitting percentage while Jones finished with eight kills for .636.

Texas Tech now begins preparation for what promises to be one of the toughest sub-regionals in the entire NCAA field. The four teams have a combined record of 97-27. Hawaii is currently ranked second in the nation while Texas Tech and Utah have each made appearances in the AVCA Top 25 this season. Utah is currently ranked No. 18 according to the AVCA.

Utah Utes: The Utah Utes will come into Thursday's match with Texas Tech sporting an overall record of 22-7 and a No. 18 national ranking. The Utes are members of the Mountain West Conference. Utah is coached by Beth Launiere who is 202-145 in 10 seasons at the University of Utah. Utah is making their second straight NCAA appearance and second in school history. The Utes advanced to the second round of last year's NCAA tournament. Utah is being led by Freshman Kim Turner who has 304 kills on the season and 116 total blocks. Utah has four players who have over 200 kills on season and five players with more than 200 digs.

Davidson Wildcats: The Davidson Wildcats will enter Thursday's match-up with Hawaii sporting a 24-11 overall record. The Wildcats are the Southern Conference Champions. Davidson will be making their second-straight appearance and second overall in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats are coached by Tami Darwin who is 24-11 in her first season at Davidson. Davidson is being led by Mara Mordini who has an impressive 547 kills and 636 digs.

Hawai'i Rainbow Wahine: The Hawaii Rainbow Wahine will enter the NCAA Tournament with a No. 2 national ranking and overall record of 27-1. Hawaii won the Western Athletic Conference to earn an automatic bid to the tournament. Hawaii had a perfect 27-0 record before falling to Long Beach State on Saturday night in four games. Hawaii is coached by Dave Shoji who is 738-138 in 26 seasons at the helm of the Wahine volleyball program. The Rainbow Wahine are led by sophomore outside hitter Lily Kahumoku who has 374 kills and 165 digs. Senior outside hitter Jessica Sudduth has 312 kills and 234 digs.

The Texas Tech volleyball team earned five spots on the 2000 Academic All-Big 12 team. Seniors Colleen Smith and Janelle Jones joined juniors Heather Hughes-Justice and Kate Jury and sophomore Melissa McGehee on the academic squad. All five players were first-team selections.

Texas Tech junior Heather Hughes-Justice was named the Big 12's Defensive Specialist of the Year while senior Colleen Smith and sophomore Melissa McGehee were named to the first-team. Hughes-Justice has been in the top three in the nation in service aces all season long and currently has 72 aces to go along with 310 digs. Smith and McGehee were rewarded for their performances as the duo has a combined 988 kills and 652 digs.

With a 12-8 Big 12 record, Texas Tech finished the 2000 conference season in a fifth-place tie with Colorado. Nebraska, the nation's No. 1 ranked team, won the Big 12 with a perfect 28-0 record. The Big 12 Conference placed six teams in this year's NCAA Tournament (Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Colorado). The Big 12 tied with the Pacific-10 and the Big 10 for the most entries in this year's field of 64.

Texas Tech's success on the court is also showing up in the NCAA statistical rankings. As of the Nov. 19 rankings, Texas Tech has two individuals ranking among the nation's Top 20 in two categories. Texas Tech is also ranked as a team in one category.

Texas Tech junior defensive specialist Heather Hughes-Justice fell to third place in this week's NCAA individual standings. Three weeks ago, Hughes-Justice lost her No. 1 ranking and fell to third in the national standings but moved to second in the Nov. 7 rankings. Hughes-Justice currently has 72 aces on the year.

Move over Batman and Robin because there is a new DYNAMIC DUO in town. Senior outside hitter Colleen Smith and sophomore outside hitter Melissa McGehee have been absolutely dominating this season. Both players have combined for a total of 988 kills and became the first duo in school history to hit over 400 kills in the same season. Only four players in Texas Tech history have hit over 400 kills in a single-season (Brande Brown(431) - 1997, Jill Burness(427) - 1996, Colleen Smith - 2000 and Melissa McGehee - 2000). Defensively, McGehee and Smith have been just as deadly as the two players have combined for 652 digs on the year. Both Smith and McGehee were named to the All-Big 12 First-Team.

Sophomore outside hitter Ann Romjue added a second 30-dig match to her 2000 season resume as she put up 36 digs against the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday, Nov. 18. Romjue's 36 digs set a school record for most digs in a match. The previous record was held by Rochelle Kaaiai who tallied 34 digs against Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo on Sept. 23, 1992.

For the first time in Texas Tech volleyball history, a player has achieved the 500 kill mark in a season. With 33 kills against Texas A&M on Saturday, Nov. 18, senior Colleen Smith earned 506 kills to surpass the 500 mark. Smith finished the regular-season with 533 and is currently ninth on the career kill chart at Texas Tech.

Junior setter Skydra Orzen needed just 92 assists in Tech's final three matches of the regular-season to become Texas Tech's single-season assist leader. Orzen decided not to drag on the process so she tallied all 92 assists in just once match to give her a spot in the Texas Tech record book. Orzen set the mark against Texas A&M on Nov. 18 giving her a second 90 assist match this season. Orzen now has 1,593 assists which surpasses the mark of 1,537 set by former Texas Tech great Lisa Hilgers during the 1995 season.

Sophomore Melissa McGehee has been at the top of her game as of the last couple of weeks. In the last six matches, McGehee has tallied 87 kills on 187 attacks with 26 errors for a hitting percentage of .326. Defensively, she has dug up 84 balls and earned six total blocks. McGehee tallied 20 double-doubles (kills/digs) during the regular-season and became the first player at Texas Tech to hit 400 kills and tally 400 digs in the same season. McGehee was rewarded this past weekend with a selection to the All-Big 12 First-Team.

Texas Tech finished the 2000 regular-season with a .246 hitting percentage. The Red Raiders were able to bring up that percentage from .243 with a .404 performance against Iowa State. Texas Tech dropped from .247 following the match with Nebraska in which Tech hit a season-low .071 against the Huskers. Melissa McGehee had her worst hitting performance of the season (along with several others) against Nebraska. McGehee managed seven kills but had seven errors to giver her a .000 percentage. Senior middle blocker Janelle Jones leads the team with a .328 hitting percentage (262-81-551). Tech has raised its hitting percentage from .213 at the end of last season to the current .246.

Senior Janelle Jones is in the middle of her most successful season at Texas Tech. The Denver, Colo. native currently leads the team with a .328 hitting percentage. She is presently fourth on the team with 262 kills and leads the team with 199 blocks (31 Solo and 88 assist).

Texas Tech has broken close to 25 school records this season and can get a couple more under its belt with some success this week in the NCAA Tournament. Here is a look at a just a few of the records broken during the 2000 season:

Individual Single-Season Assists: Skydra Orzen (1,593)
Individual Single-Season Kills: Colleen Smith (533)
Individual Service Aces: Heather Hughes-Justice (72)
Digs In a Single Match: Ann Romjue (36 vs. Texas A&M - Nov. 18)
Assists in a Single Match: Skydra Orzen (93 vs. Missouri - Sept. 27)
Sophomore Kills Record: Melissa McGehee (455)
Sophomore Digs Record: Melissa McGehee (438)
Senior Kills Record: Colleen Smith (533)
Junior Service Ace Record: Heather Hughes-Justice (72)
Team Kills: 1,992 (Previous Record was 1,884 set in 1995)

Texas Tech will enter the 2000 NCAA Tournament with a .246 overall hitting percentage. The Red Raiders need to surpass the .247 mark to set a school record for hitting percentage in a single-season. Texas Tech hit .247 during the 1995 season.

Texas Tech has two players with over 100 blocks on the season which is the most since the 1998 season. Janelle Jones currently leads the team with 119 blocks while junior middle blocker Kate Jury has 102. As a team, Texas Tech has 332 total blocks for an average of 2.81 per game.

Texas Tech played in its eighth five-game match of the 2000 season on Saturday, Nov. 18 against Texas A&M. Texas Tech led the Big 12 in the number of five-game matches played. Texas Tech holds the advantage in these matches with a 5-3 record.

Discipline. Hard Work. Determination. No matter how you classify these three words they pretty much describe the philosophies of Texas Tech Head Volleyball Coach Jeff Nelson.

After five years as the Red Raider head volleyball coach, Nelson has turned a team that won half of its matches in 1994 prior to his arrival into a successful, dynamic and ever-improving progam. Already in his first four years, Nelson has guided Texas Tech to three NCAA tournament appearances, led the Red Raiders to four 20-win campaigns, recruited and signed the top volleyball athletes in the nation and generated an interest level in volleyball never before seen in Lubbock.

Nelson has been successful at every stop during his career both as a player and coach. As a volleyball player at Ball State University, his collegiate team advanced to the NCAA Final Four in 1985. He helped guide Muncie Burris High School to the 1995 Indiana State Volleyball Championship with a 42-0 record while serving as an assistant coach. As a graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska, he was part of a program that placed runner-up in the 1986 NCAA Championships.

From Nebraska, he was named assistant head coach in 1988 and head coach of the Minnesota Monarchs of the Major League Volleyball for the 1989 season. He led the Monarchs to a 9-0 start in 1989 and was selected as coach of the East All-Star team.

After the MLV folded, Nelson joined the University of Minnesota volleyball program as an assistant coach. He helped the Golden Gophers post a 29-9 record, place second in the Big Ten Conference and advance to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 round in 1989.

From 1990 to 1995, Nelson helped Arizona State earn two Sweet Sixteen and three NCAA appearances (1992-93-94) and one NIVC berth (1990) as its assistant volleyball coach. During his five years as recruiting coordinator, he signed four high school All-Americas. His coaching abilities were showcased in the spring of 1994 when head Sun Devil coach Patti Snyder took a six-week maternity leave. He also doubled as Arizona State's men's club team coach where he guided the Sun Devils to three Cactus Region championships and three Top 10 national finishes. He also produced five All-America athletes along with one USA Open All-America, placed seventh in the U.S. Open and hosted the 1994 National Club championships. His 1994 club team posted a 68-5 record and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation.



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