The Frogs drew the University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine in the first round of the College Station regionals. They will play at 4:30 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 4.
This matchup pits the Big West conference champions against the fourth place Big 12 team.
The Horned Frogs:
The Horned Frogs, 19-9 (9-7 Big 12) are rolling under new head coach Jill Kramer. In Kramer’s first year as head coach, she led the Frogs to their first winning record in Big 12 play and even led the Frogs to a 3-0 victory over the No. 3 seed University of Texas Longhorns.
The Frogs will be playing the Rainbow Wahine in College Station, so the match will be played at a neutral site. The Frogs are 5-0 this year when playing on a neutral site.
The Frogs have become an excellent blocking team this year. In 97 sets the Frogs tallied 286.5 blocks, for an average of 2.95 blocks per set – good enough for ninth best in the nation. That is up from last year’s total of 270.5 blocks in 119 sets, an average of 2.3 blocks per set.
Leading the Horned Frogs in blocks is junior middle blocker Regan McGuire. McGuire is tied for seventh in the nation in blocks per set, averaging 1.53 blocks.
The Frogs have also become a better attacking team since last year. While the total number of kills and attempts have decreased, so too have TCU hitting errors. The Frogs have increased their hitting percentage from .246 to .248. While it may not seem like much, the Frogs .248 hitting percentage is good enough to land the Frogs in the top 50 in the nation in that category.
Junior outside hitter Ashley Smith leads the Frogs in total kills, 285, and kills per set, 2.94. Junior middle block Natalie Gower leads the team in hitting percentage, coming in at .347.
If the Horned Frogs want to come out on top, they are going to need big performances from McGuire at the net, and from Smith above it.
The Rainbow Wahine:
The Rainbow Wahine, 26-1 (16-0 Big West) is on an absolute tear. The Rainbow Wahine have won 21 straight matches since losing to UCLA in September. Hawaii finished the season ranked No. 8 in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll, but was not given a national seeding for the tournament.
Coach Dave Shoji has been at the school for 41 years, and in his time Hawaii has only lost 197 times while claiming victory 1,176 times – a career win percentage of .857.
Hawaii has not played matches at a neutral site this year. All of their pre-season tournaments and matches were played at home in the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Rainbow Wahine are an excellent team all-around but they excel at shutting down the net and blocking. In 94 sets the Rainbow Wahine tallied 309.5 blocks, for an average of 3.3 blocks per set, making Hawaii the number one blocking team in the nation.
Leading Hawaii in the blocks is senior middle blocker Olivia Magill, who like TCU’s McGuire, ranks seventh in the nation with 1.53 blocks per set.
When attacking the ball, the Rainbow Wahine are excellent. Hawaii’s hitting percentage stands at .288, good enough for eighth in the nation, while they average 14.11 kills per set, a top 35 national mark.
Hawaii has two players in the top 30 for hitting percentage. Magill ranks seventeenth, hitting .412, and senior middle blocker Emily Maglio ranks twenty-ninth, hitting .395.
Hawaii also ranks in the top 50 in: aces per set, 1.53 (led by junior outside hitter Nikki Taylor with .43 aces per set), team assists per set, 13.01, and opponent hitting percentage, .141.
If the Rainbow Wahine want to come out on top, they will need to stay big at the net and make sure the Frogs don’t get into a rhythm.
The Horned Frogs have had an amazing year, and they should absolutely be proud of what they’ve accomplished. But, Hawaii is a dominant team that is on a hot streak.
If the Frogs were playing in the University Recreation Center they might be able to pull off the upset, but away from home it just doesn’t seem as likely. However, if the Frogs play like they did when they upset Texas, anything is possible.
The Frogs certainly have the shorter distance to travel, and will likely have more fans in attendance than Hawaii. Honolulu is four hours behind College Station so maybe the time difference will play a factor in Hawaii’s readiness for the game, giving the Frogs a chance to come out and stun the Rainbow Wahine.
Rainbow Wahine 3, Horned Frogs 0