TCU vs Houston Baptist University Beach Volleyball scrimmage in Fort Worth, Texas on November 5, 2017. (Photo/Sharon Ellman)
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The TCU Horned Frogs beach volleyball team has confidence and momentum as they enter the 2018 season ranked No. 13 in the country.

“We are excited and ready to compete,” TCU beach volleyball coach Hector Gutierrez said. “I think we are getting tired of just practicing. Our preseason is very long and everyone is looking forward to starting. They have been working really hard, and I’m excited and looking forward to it.”

The Frogs finished the 2017 season ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top 15 for the first time in school history (13th). The Frogs also tied a school record with 18 wins as they went on to win 10 of their last 11 matches. In the season’s final month, the Frogs had three of their five wins against programs ranked in the Top 15.

Gutierrez said that the victories against the three teams ranked in the Top 15 was a huge confidence boost for his players.

“We know we can compete with the best,” Guttierez said, “That’s what they are looking forward to. Having the good season last year is pushing us to keep going. With the confidence they have, they are getting on the court with a different mentality.”

The Frogs also received an invitation to participate in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) starting in the 2019 season. This came after the team was in the conversation to earn their first-ever bid to the NCAA Championships last year.

“Getting into a conference is another great opportunity for us to compete,” Guttierez said. “I think the CCSA is one of the strongest conferences in the country. There are a lot of good teams in it. It’s something the girls need to experience.”

The 2018 Frogs return four players who had 10 wins or more in the 2017 season. The players include Jaelyn Greene (21), Jillian Bergeson (16 in 2017, 35 in career), Claire Doyle (12) and Haven Hill (10). The team also returns Molly Scheel (28 career wins), Olivia Canales (15 career wins), even though she missed almost all of the 2017 season, and Jordan Terral (10 career wins).

TCU also added graduate transfers Brooke Sassin (Kansas State), Cassie House (New Mexico) and Kristy Wieser (Chatanooga) and first-year students Hannah Rogers and Jordan Westendorff.

The Frogs begin the 2018 regular season Saturday at home in the Horned Frog Challenge at the TCU Beach Courts as TCU hosts the Houston Baptist Huskies (10:30 a.m.) and the Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelinas (12:30 p.m.). The Frogs play host Sunday to No. 11 Florida International Panthers (11 a.m.) and the ULM Warhawks (1 p.m.).

“Playing at home and winning will give us a huge advantage for when we are on the road,” Gutierrez said. “We are trying to get a tougher schedule each year because we need to know what it’s like to compete with the best in the country and to get better. That’s what we are hoping for – to get better each time we compete.”