Dec. 14, 2010
RUSTON, La. - Nearly one month has passed since five seniors played their last contest on the floor of the Thomas Assembly Center. Their final match, a five set thriller over Nevada, speaks volumes as to how far this program has developed over the last few seasons and what is to come on the horizon.
In what started as a tumultuous weekend at Arkansas State that saw the Techsters lose two starters and two hard-fought matches, a reshuffling in the starting lineup occurred with several Techsters filling those voids by shifting to new positions.
Despite facing new challenges early in the season, the Louisiana Tech volleyball team managed to reel off 11 non-conference wins for the second consecutive season while posting a perfect 5-0 mark in home matches. Of those 11 wins, nine came courtesy of sweeps with Louisiana Tech outhitting opponents .268 to .042 while averaging 11.8 assists per set.
For their strong play in non-conference action, three Techsters were named to various all-tournament teams with Kara Jones receiving honors at the Arkansas State Invitational and Nicholls Challenge while Taylor Fritz was named to the all-Nicholls Challenge team and Lori Hunsucker was named to the all-Maverick Classic squad.
Although facing a daunting conference slate that demanded both mental and physical toughness with the amount of travel involved, the Techsters managed to excel both on and off of the court.
Off of the court the volleyball team had the highest percentage of student-athletes with a 3.0 grade point average or higher than any other athletic program at Louisiana Tech. In total, 10 student-athletes earned above a 3.0 with Caitlin Germany and Nataliya Panova recording perfect 4.0 averages.
On the court, this season rewrote the record books as several Techsters etched their way into Tech history.
Lori Hunsucker, a senior from Katy, Texas established new school records for total digs in a season (579), single-season digs per set (5.03) and career digs per set (4.33). Her 5.03 digs per set led the Western Athletic Conference and ranked 40th in the NCAA.
Furthermore, her 31 digs against Nicholls State marked the first time a Lady Techster has recorded 30-plus digs since Meghan Hass notched 34 vs. Nevada on Nov. 5, 2005. The 31 total digs also marks the sixth best performance in school history and the most since the NCAA ruled that all sets be played to a total of 25 points rather than the previous 30.
For the standout libero, the records didn't stop with Louisiana Tech. Her 579 total digs is the fifth best single-season mark in conference history while her 4.33 career digs per set ranks second all-time in conference history.
Kara Jones, Tech's lone four-year starter, finished her assault on the blocks record books. Already owning the single-match blocks record, Jones' 381 career blocks moved her past Laura Ebert (321) and Tanya Jarvis (328) for third all-time on the Louisiana Tech career blocks list.
Moreover, after leading the Techsters in attack percentage, total kills and total blocks this season, she became only the seventh active WAC student-athlete with 1,000-plus career points.
Bianca Bin, who is expected to be granted an extra year of eligibility allowing her to play in the 2011 season, became only the sixth Techster in school history to tally 2,500-plus assists. The Brazilian native finished the season with 2,663 career assists, ranking fifth all-time at Tech.
Although missing 12 matches due to injury, true-freshman Clara Vido made her mark on the record books as her career-high 25 kills at Idaho marked the most by a Lady Techster since the NCAA ruled that all sets be played to a total of 25 points.
As a team, the Tech defense led the WAC with 15.43 digs per set while ranking second in the conference by holding opponents to a .171 hitting percentage. Furthermore, Tech recorded 109 digs (21.8 d/s) in a five set win against Nevada to close out the season - the highest total for a team in a WAC match since Hawai'i had 110 vs. New Mexico State on Sept. 22, 2007.
Even with the departure of five seniors, the Techsters will return seven letterwinners next season while gaining the services of Nataliya Panova and Emily Maher who both missed this past season due to injury.
With 28 wins over the past two seasons - the most in consecutive years since Tech won 35 matches from 2002-03 - and some new faces set to join the starting rotation next season, the 2011 version of the Techsters is built to continue the success that has been gained under the Sonnichsen era.
For complete coverage of Techster volleyball, please visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com and follow sports information contact, Austin Staton, on twitter for the latest and most current news.