Texas Tech volleyball’s sophomore Alex Kirby started in her first conference game of the season after suffering a foot injury that had her sidelined since September, helping Tech defeat Kansas State 3-0 on Wednesday.
Kirby recorded 42 assists in three sets in Wednesday’s win over the Wildcats, according to Tech Athletics. She also added three points of her own, recording two kills and a serving ace. Kirby made her presence know on the defensive side as well, recording two block assists and eight digs.
“I was so ready to come back and play volleyball, and I think my team did a really good job supporting me and giving me a long leash cause they knew I was not gonna be where I was four weeks ago,” Kirby said regarding her first Big 12 game.
In her absence, Kirby said she was proud of sophomore Tatum Rohme for filling in for the team.
“Tatum (Rohme) did a great job,” Kirby said. “I know if that would’ve been me last year, I would’ve been very scared, but I think she did a great job filling in and meshing with the team and connecting well.”
In Kirby’s absence, Rohme racked up 404 assists in 39 sets, according to NCAA.com. Rohme also had 12 total blocks and 55 digs as she ranked in the top 100 players in the nation with 459 assists this season.
Before her injury, Kirby played in 3 matches. In those matches, she recorded a total of 120 assists and averaged 10 assists per set, according to Tech Athletics. In the Red Raiders’ win over Ohio State in August, Kirby finished with 50 assists, eight kills, and 16 digs. All of which are season highs for Kirby.
Kirby said she felt rusty in her first game back, as she felt her mind needed to catch up to the team’s tempo for her to get in a better rhythm with her teammates.
“I think just getting my mind faster, it’s one thing to watch, but actually being in the game and having to read everything and be ready to push it’s like your mind has to catch up too,” Kirby said. “So, I think once my mind gets ready to play and (catches up) to the tempo then I think that’s when I’ll feel more in my rhythm.”
Sophomore defensive specialist Katy Northcut, who has taken over the starting backline role for the injured freshman Lindsey Dodson, said she thought Kirby played well against Kansas State.
“I think she did great,” Northcut said. “I love Alex (Kirby), I trust her and she’s always working hard, and I think she did really good for just coming back from an injury. I’m really happy for her.”
Head coach Tony Graystone also commented on Kirby’s performance in the team’s Wednesday night victory.
“(Kirby) was solid, did a good job. It was fun to watch her again; she was so excited,” Graystone said. “We were a little worried about her being a little bit too hyped up, but she kept herself together well. I was concerned about maybe her stamina, just (if Kirby) was able to have her legs and get through a whole match. 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 will play Iowa State at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Ames, Iowa.