The TCU volleyball team competed closely in the first set against No. 5 Texas in a sold-out match, but the Longhorns pulled away and topped the Horned Frogs in straight sets (25-19, 25-16, 25-15).
The Frogs (11-4, 0-1 Big 12) came on strong and fought point-for-point with the Longhorns (7-2, 1-0 Big 12), as the score tied 10 times. A stuff block by freshman middle blocker Natalie Gower early in the first set and kills by freshman right-side hitter Regan McGuire pushed the Frogs to a 17-16 lead. Kills by Texas outside hitter Haley Eckerman gave Texas the first set 25-19.
Frogs’ senior middle blocker Yvonne Igodan, who played outside hitter in the match, led the Frogs in kills in the first set. Freshman libero Shane Peters kept the Frogs close in the first set with five digs. TCU struggled with service errors, though, giving the Longhorns opportunities to take the lead.
Gower started the Frogs out on the right foot in the second set, keeping the team close with two consecutive kills, but strong blocking by Texas and service errors by TCU gave the Longhorns a 12-7 edge. Kills by All-Americans Eckerman and Bailey Webster could not be stopped, giving Texas the 25-16 second-set win.
Sophomore right-side hitter Blaire Pickens dominated the second set with three consecutive kills totaling to five for the set. McGuire and Igodan also recorded five kills each. Peters continued to lead in digs.
A sluggish start to the third set forced TCU head coach Prentice Lewis to call a timeout as the Frogs trailed 8-2. The Frogs quickly regrouped with an Igodan kill. TCU amped up its defense in the second half of the final set, but Eckerman stepped up for Texas and the Frogs ultimately fell to Texas 25-15 in the third set to lose the match 3-0.
Lewis said she was displeased with the Frogs’ performance.
“I think we showed up for about 19 points of it and that was the first set,” Lewis said. “Then we showed up for another eight points in the third set and that was about it.”
She said if the Horned Frogs continue to play like they did on Wednesday, they aren’t going to “battle” teams.
Sophomore right-side hitter Blaire Pickens agreed with Lewis, saying the Frogs struggled to keep up the energy.
“A few points we’d play well and a few points we’d let it slip,” Pickens said. “But it’s early in the season so it’s nothing we can’t fix.”
Igodan led the Frogs with eight kills on the match, and Pickens followed close behind with seven. Peters and sophomore defensive specialist both recorded nine digs in the match, and setters Alexia Heist, a sophomore, and Trisha Langley, a redshirt freshman, added eight and 11 assists, respectively.
For the Longhorns, the Eckerman and Webster duo combined for 21 kills. Setter Hannah Allison recorded 25 assists, and libero Sarah Palmer finished with nine digs.
Freshman outside hitter Ashley Smith did not play in the Texas game because of a sprained ankle she suffered the day before the match.
Lewis said her absence from the game was a factor in the loss, but that she should be ready for the Kansas game on Saturday. Lewis expects Smith to struggle with her jumping.
Junior right-side hitter Stephanie Holland was also injured and did not play at the start of the game.
Pickens said the Frogs won’t dwell on the loss, but will instead keep looking forward to the next match against Kansas.
“Tonight and tomorrow our focus will be beating Kansas and learning what they’re about,” Pickens said.
Heist said she wants to “help lead this team” to a successful season in conference.
“I know we can do it, it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together,” she said.
The Frogs will travel to Lawrence, Kan. Saturday to play Kansas. First serve is set for 1 p.m.