Frogs complete opening weekend sweep, defeat Rice in straight sets

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TCU volleyball defeated the Rice Owls in straight sets Sunday, 26-24, 25-19, 25-22, extending their current winning streak to three games, earning a sweep in all three games.

The Owls were a tough test for the Horned Frogs, each set was very competitive and proved to be a challenge.

“Rice has a lot of very skilled volleyball players,” head coach Jill Kramer said. “They do a great job recruiting, and bring in a lot of good players. They have high IQs.”

The Frogs found themselves in some very similar situations to Saturday’s match early in the first set, but the squad didn’t back down and accepted the challenge.

“The one thing that we did often throughout the weekend was working through issues and making adjustments,” Kramer said.

Sunday’s challenge was much different than Coastal Carolina’s. Kramer cited Coastal’s high athleticism and excellent coaching as the reason for the competitiveness of Saturday’s match, while Rice’s experience was what kept the game interesting.

“They have kids that have played the game for a very long time, and they’re bound to make stuff happen,” Kramer said.

Kramer praised her team, especially the freshmen, following a very strong weekend for the team.

“This team is very comfortable in situations where they’re down,” Kramer said. “They have a lot of fight in them, and they stuck together regardless of what was happening on the court.”

Several first-year students saw a large amount of playing time over the weekend. Outside hitter Abigail Buckingham, libero Dani Dennison, outside hitter Allye Beth Deaton, defensive specialist Berklie Baker and middle blocker Sarah Swanson all made a big impact on the match results.

“It was hard to tell they’re freshmen,” Kramer said. “They have a lot of confidence in their abilities and their teammates have a lot of confidence in them. Everybody is helping everybody out, and the freshmen girls are getting a lot of good feedback. They have a lot of support from their teammates, and they’re working hard everyday. It’s easy to be comfortable on the court knowing everybody has your back.”

The freshmen came up big at the end of each set. As a team, TCU put down 48 kills, served three aces, scoring 59 digs, and six team blocks. Abigail Buckingham led the team with 15 kills, a .303 hitting chip, and also recorded two blocks. Deaton and Swanson scored eight kills and Dennison recorded her first career 20-dig match.

It wasn’t only the freshmen that made big plays for the team. Junior outside hitter Lexi MacLean picked up eight kills and 14 digs, senior setter Lamprini Konstantinidou led the team with 23 assists for the first time in her career, and junior middle blocker Anna Walsh recorded three blocks on the day.

“Different people stepped up throughout the weekend,” Kramer said. “There were some consistencies, but we had everybody step up at some point. That gives our setters confidence, and some of the best blocking moves from our hitters were late in sets. That’s when you want people to be their best.”

On a weekend marked with tragedy for much of southern Texas, the entire TCU Volleyball community sent their condolences to the city of Houston and Rice University at today’s match. The match began with a moment of silence for the trauma in Houston, and Kramer applauded the effort the Owls exerted on the court during a very hard time for their community.

“Rice came in and played hard,” Kramer said. “They have a lot going on at home and are dealing with a lot of things right now. They played great volleyball and did a really good job of putting everything in the back of their mind.”

Following Saturday’s match, Kramer hinted at a possible lunch for all TCU students to show her praise for all of their support over the weekend. Students can expect the first lunch to be held before the team’s next home match against Duke.

“I did tell the students that I want to get together before every home match so we can all get on the same page,” Kramer said. “I think it’s worth our time and energy when people do want to come.”

If the first lunch does well, Coach Kramer would love to make it a TCU Volleyball tradition.

The next match for the Frogs will be next Friday against the Colorado State Rams in the Florida State Invitational, a weekend long tournament held on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.

The match against the Rams will be held at 10:00 a.m. Friday. The Frogs will finish the weekend against UNC Asheville Saturday at 12:00 p.m., and against Florida State at 12:00 p.m. Sunday.