Volleyball: Team to challenge 2 conference rivals

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    With two conference matches remaining, the Horned Frogs will try to recover from their weekend losses before the Mountain West Conference Championships.Friday night, the Frogs flirted with a possible upset against the No. 9 Utah Utes, but they fell short after a four-game match in front of a school record of more than 850 fans.

    Led by freshman outside hitter Lauren Otto, the Frogs started to mount a comeback Friday against the Utes, but it was too little too late

    “We needed to finish what we had in game three,” head coach Prentice Lewis said.

    The Frogs took the third game of the match by a 12-point margin, before losing the match in game four.

    Otto tallied 21 points while pounding the sideline with 17 kills throughout the match along with a pair of assists.

    The Horned Frogs’ defense rose to the occasion Friday night as they were going toe-to-toe with one of the top defenses in the country.

    “For us to have beaten them in blocks is odd, as Emillie Toone is the best middle blocker in the nation,” Lewis said.

    Toone, the 6-foot-7-inch middle blocker from the Utes is one of the acclaimed defensive players in college volleyball, Lewis said.

    A ray of optimism came out of this loss, Otto said, as the Frogs played better against the Utes after being swept a month prior.

    The following night, the Frogs were swept by the No. 21 BYU Cougars. Saturday night’s loss to BYU brought the Horned Frogs’ (17-12 overall) conference record to 5-9, which is good enough for sixth place out of nine teams.

    The outcome of Saturday’s contest was controlled by the airtight Cougar defense that had 12 blocks on the night.

    Although losses aren’t what any team wants, senior middle blocker Anna Vaughn said, the losses did give the Frogs some high points as the end of conference play draws near.

    “Passing, I think we did really well,” Vaughn said. “The defense really went after it and fought hard.”

    The Frogs will be going on the road this week for a Friday night match against the New Mexico Lobos. TCU won their previous match against the Lobos 3-0 and will be facing an opponent with a losing record at home.

    “I think our team has a new energy, and they’re ready to step up and play them on the road,” Lewis said.