Texas Tech tops TCU volleyball in five-set thriller

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    In its inaugural season in the Big 12 conference, the TCU women’s volleyball team swept Texas Tech both times the teams met.

    The Horned Frogs couldn’t continue that tradition Wednesday night, falling to the Red Raiders in a five-set thriller.

    The Horned Frogs (12-7, 1-4 Big 12) topped the Red Raiders in five sets (8-12, 1-4 Big 12) at the University Recreation Center (22-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-18, 11-15).

    “Obviously I’m not happy,” head coach Prentice Lewis said. “We didn’t come to play the first two sets and then played hard in games three and four, and then game five we came out scared.”

    Lewis said the football game earlier in the day might have had something to do with the loss.

    “Our team needs to be more mature,” she said. “I didn’t think my team would lose their distraction even though I had talked to them about it all week.”

    In the first set, each team traded points until the Frogs reached a 13-11 advantage with a strong stuff block by the duo of junior middle blocker Mattie Burleson and junior right-side hitter Stephanie Holland.  Texas Tech returned with a block of its own, bringing the score back to within one.

    TCU senior outside hitter Yvonne Igodan responded quickly with a kill out of the middle, but Tech took the first lead over the Frogs in the match with three kills in a row, bringing the score to 17-15 and forcing a TCU timeout.

    Tech kept the pressure on the Frogs, claiming a three-point lead. TCU called a final timeout with Tech leading 24-20, but the Red Raiders ultimately finished out the set 25-22 and took a 1-0 lead in the match.

    The Red Raiders didn’t let up to start the second set, taking a 4-2 lead with two TCU service errors. TCU came back and the teams went point-for-point until Tech regained a two-point lead with a kill by sophomore outside hitter Meghan Stacy.

    The Frogs called a timeout after strong offense put the Red Raiders up 16-12. TCU couldn’t gain any momentum, though, and called a second timeout after Tech took its biggest lead over the Frogs in the match at 21-14.

    Three kills out of the timeout by Burleson and Holland gave the Frogs a spark, but a quick set to the middle and a kill by Tech junior middle blocker Mikia Mills lifted the Red Raiders over the Frogs 25-19 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

    After a brief intermission, TCU freshman middle blocker Natalie Gower came out strong in the third set with two consecutive kills, but Tech responded with two of their own. Three hitting errors by Tech gave the Frogs a 6-3 lead.

    TCU took its biggest lead of the match over the Red Raiders with strong offense by Gower and forced Tech to call a timeout. Digs by freshman libero Shane Peters and kills by freshman outside hitter Ashley Smith sparked the Frogs to a 20-12 lead.

    Tech made a run of its own, coming back to within 20-24, but the Frogs finished the third set 25-20 and brought the match to 2-1.

    TCU’s Smith and sophomore right-side hitter Blaire Pickens started the Frogs out in the fourth set with two kills each. TCU reached a 16-9 lead with a balanced offense, but strong serving by Tech sophomore outside hitter Emily Wright brought the Red Raiders to within four.

    An ace by TCU sophomore defensive specialist Sutton Sunstrum brought the Frogs to set point, and Smith brought the match to a deciding fifth set with a kill and a fourth set win 25-18.

    More strong offense by Holland brought the Frogs to a 4-1 lead in the 15-point fifth set. Texas Tech pulled the set to a tie with a kill from the right side from Mills and eventually took a 9-7 lead.

    Tech sophomore outside hitter Jenna Allen produced offense from the back row to bring the score to 12-9 in favor of the Red Raiders. Junior outside hitter Macy Capen blocked Allen on her last attempt from the back row, giving the Frogs energy.

    A kill from Tech senior middle blocker Aubree Piper gave the Red Raiders set point, and a passing error by the Frogs gave Tech a 15-11 set win and five-set match win.

    For the Frogs, Gower led the team in kills with 16 and Holland followed with 14. Sophomore setter Alexia Heist recorded 24 assists and redshirt freshman setter Trisha Langley recorded 23. Peters added 18 digs in the match.

    “Natalie played fantastic,” Lewis said. “Yeah, she had some errors, and you can tell when she makes an error because she gets upset about it, but she’s one of those athletes where she has so much further to go and she’s going to end up being amazing,” Lewis said.

    Allen led the Red Raiders in kills with 24 kills, while sophomore setter Emily Ruetter recorded 50 assists. Junior libero Rachel Brummitt added 26 of the team’s 89 digs in the match.

    Up next, the Frogs will travel to Waco on Wednesday to take on the Baylor Bears. First serve is set for 7 p.m. and the match will be televised live on FSSW.