Behind 32 kills and 12 service aces as a team, TCU volleyball came out of the gate swinging, sweeping the High Point Panthers 3-0 in their season opener on Friday night.
“I think tonight was a great start for our squad,” head coach Jill Kramer said. “Had a lot of young players on the court … they handled the environment well.”
The game was the Horned Frogs’ first of three this weekend as part of the annual Cowtown Classic tournament, which is hosted by TCU.
Entering the season with the No. 6 recruiting class (PrepVolleyball.com), it’s no surprise that TCU saw a huge impact from their first-year players from the get-go.
First-year outside hitter Audrey Nalls showed signs of being a force on offense with a game-high 10 kills. In the middle, first-year Afedo Manyang was all over the board with six kills, four service aces and three blocks.
“[In] the first few points and first half of the game, I was a little nervous,” Manyang said. “But I slowly eased in and stuck to what I know.”
After the transfer of 2018 All-Big 12 second team setter Tori Dilfer to Louisville, the setter position was a big question mark for TCU heading into the season. Two newcomers, McKenzie Nichols and Irem Uçar, saw quality action in the season opener.
“They both [Nichols and Uçar] did great,” Kramer said. “I really think we’ve seen what we’ve seen out of them in practice, and that was kind of good.”
Uçar finished with 14 assists in the game, while Nichols produced 11 of her own.
The game was back and forth for two sets. Anytime TCU would extend their lead to even a few points, High Point would respond with a run of their own to keep the Horned Frogs on their toes.
TCU ended up winning the first two sets 25-22 and 25-23, respectively.
The third set was a different story, as the Horned Frogs found their groove. Two-straight aces by defensive specialist Dani Dennison put TCU up 10-5, and they never looked back.
The Frogs won the third set 25-14 to complete the 3-0 sweep of the Panthers. This is the fifth-straight season-opening win for TCU.
“I think our chemistry was really good [in] this game,” Manyang said. “We’re all growing and can learn more.”
TCU will face Lipscomb (0-2 in the Cowtown Classic) at 2 p.m. in the Rickel Saturday.
“Every match is important, equally important,” Kramer. “Every match sets you up for postseason, one way or another.”