The smell of an upset was in the air Friday night as the Horned Frogs (17-11 overall, 5-8 conference) nearly beat the No. 9 Utah Utes (21-2 overall, 12-0 conference).The Frogs lost 3 games to 1, but the performance on the court was not necessarily indicative of the final outcome, said Prentice Lewis head coach.
“Utah has a fantastic program, and we played really well,” Lewis said, “We came out and played hard.”
Leading the Frogs through the match was freshman outside hitter Lauren Otto with 21 points.
“That was the best she (Otto) has played since her second match of the the year against South Carolina,” Lewis said.
Stepping up against the hard hitting juggernaut of the Utes was the TCU defense.
Utah, known for their net play and nationally acclaimed middle blocker, 6’7 junior Emillie Toone, had trouble finding holes in the TCU blockers.
“For us to have beaten them in blocks is odd, as Toone is the best middle blocker int he nation,” Lewis said.
Game one had TCU coming out of the gate firing on all cylinders as they continually pounded the outside lines with attacks from Otto and junior outside hitter, LeMeita Smith.
The match soon became a flipflopping affair as the Frogs and Utes fought to 11 tie scores during the game. The performance of the Frogs had the Utes looking stunned during the game as this seemed to be a different TCU team than the one that played in Salt Lake City, one month prior. The Frogs ended short handed in the game falling to Utah 30-28
“This game was a lot better, ” Otto said, “We played as a team and fought hard.”
Game two followed a similar pattern as the opener, with TCU falling in the final 10 points of the match to the Utes 30-27.
After the 10 minute break between games the Frogs opened up the second half of the match with a new sense of fire and heart. For the first 10 points of the game, a 2-point lead was a luxury both teams would have died for, but after 8 tie scores, the Utes found a small streak and widened the margin to 11-8. TCU fought back and tied the score at 12 apiece on on Anna Vaughn block at the net. From that point forward, game 3 was history as TCU dominated by a score of 30-18.
The Frogs seemed to run out of gas in game 4, however as Utah jumped out to a 6-1 lead and never looked back.
The Frogs needed to finish what they started in the third game, said Lewis.
Saturday night will feature the Frogs going head to head with the BYU Cougars in hopes to erase the 3-2 loss from earlier this season.
“We’ve been mentally preparing for these matches all week,” said senior setter Nirelle Hampton.