“I couldn’t be more proud of my team,” Director of Volleyball Jill Kramer said.
The match was back and forth, with TCU winning sets one and three and Hawaii winning sets two, four, and five.
Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji summed up the match perfectly.
“That was an incredible college volleyball game,” Shoji said.
Even though TCU was eliminated, the Horned Frogs still enjoyed their time in the tournament, “It was such a fun match, there were so many people, the atmosphere was so awesome, it was just a battle,” setter Alexia Heist said.
TCU started strong in the first set with a 13-4 run to open play, which forced the Rainbow Wahine to call an early timeout. As it has been all season long, TCU’s blocking game was dominant. The Horned Frogs out-blocked the Rainbow Wahine 4-0, while also tipping many of Hawaii’s hits. The result of the first set was never in doubt as the Horned Frogs cruised to a 25-17 set win.
The second set was a completely different story. There were eleven ties and eight lead changes throughout the set, but the Horned Frogs just couldn’t come away with the last couple points, resulting in Hawaii taking the second set 25-23.
In the third set, it appeared that the Rainbow Wahine were going to run away with the set when they went up 24-19 on the Horned Frogs with just the set point to go. Suddenly, TCU hit another gear winning seven consecutive points on the power of outside hitter Jillian Bergeson’s serve to win the third set 26-24.
The fourth set was reminiscent of the second because of its eight ties and four lead changes. After team captain and outside hitter Ashley Smith hit a kill that cut Hawaii’s lead to three, 20-17, she landed awkwardly and suffered a lower leg injury, which caused her to exit the game and not return. Immediately following Smith’s injury, Kramer called a timeout to adjust the game plan, but Hawaii prevailed winning the fourth set 25-21. This set up a winner-take-all fifth set, first to 15 points.
The fifth set was also a back and forth affair with six ties and two lead changes, but the Horned Frogs fell to Hawaii 13-15, ending the second-best season in program history.
Even with Smith’s injury, the Horned Frogs fought until the very end.
“There was not one point when anyone put their head down when Ashley went down, and we knew that we just going to come together as a group and a battle, which what we did and we left everything out there,” Heist said.
Middle blocker Regan McGuire led the team in kills with 16. McGuire attributed her success to her teammates, “My team had my back, Lexi (Heist) trusted me so much and everyone else was covering me,” McGuire said. “Just knowing that your team trusts you and leads you have no worries, and you know that you just swing if you have to.”
TCU finished the season with an overall record of 19-10 (9-7). The Frogs appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history and first time since 2009.