The distance between TCU and the University of North Texas is 39.3 miles, just about a 41-minute drive. That local aspect made the matchup between the two volleyball teams Wednesday tougher.
“It is good to beat a local team that wants to kick our tail every time, so it’s always a tough match to be in, but it’s a great team to play,” TCU head volleyball coach Prentice Lewis said.
TCU (4-3, 0-0 Big 12) opened its regular season home schedule Wednesday night with a straight-set win over North Texas (25-21, 25-20, 25-19) at the University Recreation Center.
“We played great. We won in three, and [North Texas] is a very good team,” Lewis said. “We learned again where some of our weaknesses are, and we also learned some places where we we’ve gotten better and we’re getting better.”
In the first set, several North Texas (5-4, 0-0 C-USA) hitting errors forced the Mean Green to call an early timeout. In the first seven points of the match, UNT recorded three hitting errors and a service error, making it easy for the Frogs to take an early lead.
The Mean Green stormed back, bringing the score to 13-10 before a service error halted the run. Senior middle blocker Courtney Windham added two kills from the right side, bringing the score to within one and forcing the Frogs to take their first timeout of the set.
Senior middle blocker Yvonne Igodan responded, slamming a kill from the middle. North Texas evened up the set, but tough serving by sophomore setter Alexia Heist and kills by junior right-side hitter Stephanie Holland and sophomore outside hitter Macy Capen brought the Frogs to a 25-21 first-set win.
In the second set, the Frogs and North Texas went point-for-point up to 16-16 until sophomore defensive specialist Sutton Sunstrum subbed into the match to serve and lifted the Frogs to 19-16. Late blocks by Igodan and junior middle blocker Mattie Burleson lifted the team’s energy for a 25-20 second-set win.
The Frogs started out slowly in the third set, but two consecutive service aces by Capen brought the score back to 5-5. Both teams competed competitively, as two big blocks by the right-side duo of Igodan and Holland lifted the Frogs once more to a 15-13 lead.
At a 20-16 lead over North Texas, several kills by freshman outside hitter Ashley Smith and Holland sealed the deal and the Frogs won the set and the match 25-19.
Smith once again led the Frogs in kills and earned a match-high with 12. This marks her fourth double-digit kill match in a row for the Frogs. She leads the Horned Frog roster with 81 kills.
“[Smith] is a stud. She’s a freshman and she’s just one of those athletes,” Lewis said of the player.
Holland finished second on the kills list with nine. Heist recorded 24 assists alongside redshirt freshman setter Trisha Langley with 9 assists. Freshman libero Shane Peters recorded 16 digs and Sunstrum added two digs.
For North Texas, sophomore outside hitter Carnae Dillard led the Mean Green with nine kills and added 11 digs. Freshman setter Amy Henard recorded 28 assists and Windham tallied four blocks, three assisted and one solo, and six kills.
The Frogs remain at the University Recreation Center this weekend as they host the Nike/Molten Invitational with Stephen F. Austin, Houston, Grambling St. and Ole Miss.
TCU will face Stephen F. Austin at noon and Houston at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Grambling St. at 2 p.m. and Ole Miss at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The match against Stephen F. Austin will be the second of five televised live on Fox Sports Southwest.