MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — West Virginia volleyball fell to Texas Tech in five sets to open its Big 12 schedule on Saturday.
The Mountaineers (6-7, 0-1 Big 12) took a two-set lead in the back-and-forth match, but the Red Raiders (12-2, 1-0 Big 12) stormed back in the final three to take the victory. None of the first four sets was decided by more than three points.
“Tech is a veteran team, they’re really good,” Sunahara said. “I thought we played well enough to win but also we didn’t play well enough to win. It was tough, but hey, we’ve got to learn from it and get better.”
WVU’s first set in Big 12 play was a comeback win. The Mountaineers trailed the Red Raiders’ set point by five and stormed back, scoring six straight to take the lead and eventual victory.
Preseason All-Big 12 pick Adrian Ell led WVU’s comeback with six scores.
The Red Raiders took their turn at a comeback in set two. WVU built an eight-point lead early in the frame, but Texas Tech stormed back to tie it at 22.
West Virginia held off the surge, though, and took a 25-22 victory to go up two sets.
Set three was up for grabs until its final points. The lead changed hands six times with 10 ties as the two squads battled for the lead.
Ultimately, Brooke Kanas logged her fifth kill of the match to salvage set three for the Red Raiders.
The fourth set was another battle, but Texas Tech was in the driver’s seat. WVU led after only the first point before Texas Tech jumped in front and held at least a share of the lead until the end.
Again, the Mountaineers made a surge during the Red Raiders’ match point. Texas Tech stayed strong, though, and held on to tie the match at two sets.
Texas Tech controlled the final set of play, taking the win 15-10 to seal the match victory.
“It’s good for us to be in a situation like this. Like I said, we’ve got to keep learning, we’ve got to keep getting better and I told them in the locker room, it starts in practice,” Sunahara said.
The veteran Ell led the match in scoring with 25.5 points with 16 kills. WVU freshman Bailey Miller continued her strong debut season with a 21-point day.
Setter Kamiah Gibson assisted 29 times for the Mountaineers and recorded 12 digs. Skye Stokes paced the team with 31 digs.
Kenna Sauer led the Red Raiders with 19 points on 16 kills. Kanas was right behind with 15.5 points.
WVU out-dug Texas Tech, the conference’s dig leaders, recording 91 to the Red Raiders’ 90. The main difference between the teams was in clean hitting. WVU handed Texas Tech 35 points through hitting errors, while Texas Tech committed 24. The Mountaineers finished with a .133 hitting percentage and Texas Tech with a mark of .178.
“We’ve got to minimize our hitting errors for sure…we’ve got to be way better than that and we’ve got to keep the ball in the court and make them earn more points instead of giving them points,” Sunahara said. “Again, the youth shows, but they’re gaining experience at the same time every match they play.”
The Mountaineers will look to regroup with its first road trip in the league when it travels to face TCU on Thursday.