TCU fizzles in beach volleyball Horned Frogs Challenge

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The TCU beach volleyball team showed some grit in close matches at the Horned Frogs Challenge in Fort Worth, but was swept with 3-2 losses to No. 11 Arizona State and No. 8 Louisiana State on Friday before enduring 4-1 loss to No. 7 Arizona on Saturday morning.

“They should have gained a lot of confidence from this weekend,” TCU head coach Hector Gutierrez said. “I think they now know the level we need to play at against these higher ranked schools.”

Gutierrez, in his first-year with the young beach team, set-up a schedule against a handful experienced competition, including three weekend opponents.

The Frogs opened the weekend against the Sun Devils with four tight, three-set matches. The No. 2 pair, Amy Neal and Jaelyn Green, earned the team’s first point with a 15-12 win in the third set. The No. 3 pair of Avery Arellano and Jillian Bergeson came back from a 9-21 loss to win their decisive set 15-13.The match fell on the shoulders of Haven Hill and Molly Scheel on court one, but Arizona State took the final set 16-14 and the team won 3-2.

In the team’s second matchup of the day, Neal and Green snagged another three-set win alongside the No. 4, Ariah Palter and Sarita Mikals, to give TCU a 2-0 lead against LSU. The Tigers fought back in the next three pair-meetings. The two stole the win from TCU, 3-2, with all straight set victories.

The Frogs’ last home battle was against the Wildcats. Palter and Mikals competed back-and-forth in a deciding set, but gave up their match 15-13. The No. 5 pair of Shane Peters and Claire Doyle claimed their first win of the weekend, in straight sets 21-19, 21-19, but it wasn’t good enough. TCU fell to Arizona 4-1.

“I think we did a great job competing with these teams,” senior Amy Neal said. “We just need to focus on not letting up and making unforced errors at the end.”

Gutierrez said the mental game is what the team needs to work on in order to pull out the close matches.

“It’s not a matter of skills, they just need to believe they can do it,” Gutierrez said.

The team is back in action at the Irvine Valley College Tournament in Irvine, California on Sunday.  The Frogs are set to face Irvine Valley College, No. 5 Hawaii and No. 19 Stanford.

“We have nothing to lose and a lot to learn,” Gutierrez said. “We put all of these matches on the schedule because we need to compete as much as possible.”