TEXAS TECH SAYS GOODBYE TO TWO SENIORS
When Texas Tech's season came to an end in Lawrence, it closed the storied careers of seniors Miara Cave and Tory Vaughan. The four-year letterwinners from San Antonio helped transform the Tech program over their final two years, winning 29 total matches, the school's most over a two-year period since the 2002-03 seasons. Cave wrapped the season with 239 kills and 47 total blocks, giving her 860 and 250 for her career which both rank just outside the top-10 in school history. Vaughan, meanwhile, was once again instrumental on the back row with 216 digs, moving her career total to 915 over four seasons.
RED RAIDERS RETURN MOST OF ROTATION IN 2013
Despite the loss of his most-experienced players in seniors Miara Cave and Tory Vaughan, Don Flora will likely have his most-experienced team during his tenure in 2013 as the Red Raiders return up to 16 letterwinners off this season's roster, including soon-to-be seniors Aubree Piper and Ciara Gibson. Among the group is Emily Ehrle and Breeann David, who combined for 454 of Texas Tech's total kills, along with libero Rachel Brummitt, who recorded a school-record 510 digs from the back row. The returners will be joined by incoming freshmen Marguerite Grubb and Victoria Hinneburg, who both signed national letters of intent with Texas Tech in November.
FLORA TOTALES 29 WINS IN JUST TWO SEASONS
After inheriting a 4-25 team from 2010, Don Flora has made quick work in making Texas Tech more competitive not only in the Big 12 Conference but nationally as well. The Red Raiders have won 29 total matches over Flora's first two years at the helm, marking the program's most over a two-year period since the 2002 and 2003 teams combined for 32 victories. In addition, Texas Tech's RPI ranking has increased each season, rising from 182 at the end of the 2010 season to 115 in 2011 and then 96 to conclude this year.
RED RAIDERS BATTLE TOUGH WITH EVENTUAL NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPION
Even in a pair of 3-0 losses, Texas Tech was able to battle back-and-forth with nationally-ranked Texas which went on to win the 2012 NCAA National Championship after sweeping Oregon in the title game. In the series opener against the Longhorns, the Red Raiders battled back from a first-set loss to lead 23-22 in the second before Texas rallied with three-straight points. The Longhorns mounted another comeback in the third frame as the Red Raiders led for the majority of the frame before Texas tied the set at 18-18 and ended the match on an 8-4 run. Tech also recorded its second-highest hitting percentage in Big 12 play later in the year in Austin as the Red Raiders totaled a .333 average through two sets. Texas claimed the Big 12 title behind a 15-1 conference record.
PIPER FINISHES IN TOP 10 FOR SINGLE-SEASON HITTING PERCENTAGE
Despite missing most of Big 12 play due to injury, Aubree Piper was able to ink her name in the Tech record book with a .312 hitting percentage that ranks tied for seventh all-time in single-season history. Piper finished with 156 kills off 369 attacks with just 41 errors on the year as she wrapped the year ranked ninth in the Big 12 for hitting percentage. The junior tied Chris Martin's .312 average from 1991 that was 47 percentage points behind Yolanda Cumbess' school record percentage of .358 from the 2001 season.
BRUMMITT SNAPS SINGLE-SEASON DIGS RECORD
In only one season, Rachel Brummitt went from a relatively unknown transfer to a school record holder and one of the top liberos in the Big 12. The sophomore snapped the Texas Tech single-season digs record against TCU on Nov. 7, passing Melissa McGehee's previous school-record total of 448 from the 2000 season. Brummitt, who played her freshman season at Radford University, finished with 510 digs on the year to shatter the record. The Plano, Texas native is only the eighth player in school history to record at least 400 digs in a season. She previously passed teammate Tory Vaughan's 407 digs from a year ago, which marked the first time Texas Tech had two different players reach the 400-dig mark in consecutive seasons.
RED RAIDERS NOTCH FIRST MARQUEE WIN IN THE FLORA ERA
Head coach Don Flora earned his first victory over a ranked opponent on Nov. 17 when the Red Raiders topped No. 20 Kansas State, 3-1, at the United Spirit Arena. The victory ended an eight-year drought against top-25 teams as Texas Tech's last win over a ranked opponent came on Nov. 20, 2004, when the Red Raiders also topped 20th-ranked K-State in Manhattan. It was also the first victory over a ranked opponent in Lubbock since Tech defeated No. 21 Missouri on Oct. 5, 2002. The Red Raiders came close to topping No. 25 Oklahoma in Flora's inaugural season before the Sooners rallied for the five-set victory.
TEXAS TECH SIGNS TWO DURING FALL PERIOD Don Flora added to Texas Tech's future in early November when the second-year head coach announced the signing of high school prospects Marguerite Grubb and Victoria Hinneburg to national letters of intent to join the program for the 2013 season. Grubb, one of the top setters in the state of Texas, was a four-year starter at Bellaire High School near Houston where she earned first team all-district honors each season. Hinneburg, meanwhile, will make the journey to Lubbock after competing for several of the top volleyball clubs in her native Germany. The 6-4 middle blocker was part of three national youth championship teams and will bring immediate depth to Tech's attack.
RED RAIDERS BOAST BALANCED ATTACK
If one thing was true about the Red Raiders in 2012, Texas Tech sported one of the more-balanced attacks in recent memory as six players finished with 100 or more kills on the season. Emily Ehrle led the Tech with 241 kills followed by Miara Cave with 239 and Breeann David with 213. Meghan Stacy, Lydia McKay and Aubree Piper rounded out the group with 199, 178, and 156 kills each, respectively. Tech had not previously have six or more players reach 100 kills in a season since 2001 when seven players did so en route to the school's most recent NCAA Tournament appearance.
STEPPING UP THE MIDDLE
Prior to this season, one of the main aspects Don Flora wanted to improve in the Texas Tech attack was its play in the middle. The Red Raiders attacked primarily from the outside during his inaugural campaign on the Tech bench but looked more to the middle this season with returning junior Aubree Piper and emerging freshman Lydia McKay. The two middles concluded the season with Tech's two highest hitting percentages as McKay has totaled a .274 average while Piper hit .312 on they year, which ranked ninth overall in the Big 12. The two, along with fellow middle blockers Mikia Mills and Brianna Grant, combined for 444 kills so far this season, 31 percent of Tech's team total which is vast improvement from a year ago where Tech received only 20 percent of its kills from the middle. Tech had not previously had two or more middle blockers post 100 or more kills in a season since Piper and Barbara Conceicao combined for 255 in 2010.
RED RAIDERS RECEIVE MORE ATTENTION UNDER FLORA Don Flora's hiring at Texas Tech has not only resulted in more wins for the Red Raiders but it has also brought more recognition to the program as well. In the 15 seasons prior to his arrival, Texas Tech had only been honored with a Big 12 weekly recipient 12 times with the most recent being Amanda Dowdy in 2008. That all changed in 2011, though, as the Red Raiders picked up three conference weekly awards en route to a 15-17 season that marked the most wins since 2001. Tech picked up right where last season left off as well as the Red Raiders finished 14-18 and received five weekly accolades from the league, giving Flora seven in a little over a season.