After some time away from the court, Alex Kirby got her chance to make an impact.
The sophomore setter, who suffered a stress fracture in her foot back in August, earned the start in a Big 12 conference road match earlier in the week against Kansas.
Kirby dished out 42 assists to help the Red Raiders claim a 33-31, 25-21, 25-20 victory over the Wildcats.
“It felt so good. I was so ready to come back and play volleyball,” Kirby said. “I think my team did a really good job of supporting me and giving me a long leash because they knew I was not going to be where I was like for weeks ago. I had a lot of fun.”
Kirby, along with her teammates, are hoping the good times continue as the Red Raiders host TCU at 1 p.m. Sunday in a conference match at United Supermarkets Arena.
“She was so excited,” Texas Tech coach Tony Graystone said of Kirby in the win over Kansas State, which was the second in program history and first since 1983. “We were a little worried about her being a little too hyped up. But, she kept herself together well. And I was concerned about her stamina, just being able to have her legs, and being able to get through a whole match. And then we play a 33-31 first set and I thought she might get a little gassed.
“But, she seemed to get through it pretty well — no setbacks, no surprises that way. So I think we’re in good shape.”
The Red Raiders (12-5, 2-1) are also looking to keep their home mark unblemished when they host the Horned Frogs (5-8, 0-3) who are on a five-match losing streak heading into Sunday’s tilt.
Despite the record, TCU has a talented bunch which touts Audrey Nalls who leads Big 12 freshman with 156 kills. Julia Adams (102 kills) and KAtie Clark (97 kills) have also shouldered some of the offensive load, while McKenzie Nichols (220 assists) and Irem Uçar (199 assists) have orchestrated the attack for a Horned Frogs squad who is familiar with Texas Tech.
“More than anything, be ourselves,” Graystone said of what he’s telling his players heading into the Sunday contest. “We’ve been talking a lot about controlling our side and just being the ones that are initiating things. … It won’t be hard to get up for TCU. There’s so much familiarity with the rosters and we share a lot of the same recruiting base. So, everybody seems to know everybody on each side of the net. So it makes it a lot of fun.”
Texas Tech has a solid offense, as well, led by Emily Hill. The senior outside hitter has collected nine double-doubles, including a 21-kill, 10-dig effort against Kansas State on Wednesday.
“I just want to win again. I just want to keep winning. I want to keep winning at home, especially,” Kirby said of her mindset following the Wednesday triumph. “I think the K-State win will definitely help us with momentum to win on Sunday.”