With football fast on the horizon, it's easy to allow some of TCU's other fall sports to fall on the back burner. But TCU Volleyball coach Jill Kramer's squad is looking to ensure that they work their way to the front page. After a surprisingly successful first season under their new coach - who also happens to be the first TCU volleyball athlete ever signed by the program - expectations are high for last year's Big 12 fourth place team and NCAA Tournament qualifier.
While they don't provide immediate help for the coming year, the Frogs have a talented future behind a trio of big time signings. Virginia transfer Anna Walsh, a 6'2" middle blocker who played her high school ball at Colleyville Heritgage, is coming home after a successful freshman year with the Cavaliers that saw her named All-Region Freshman of the Year and ACC Freshman of the Week four times. She finished second on the squad in blocks and third in kills.
"Anna is a Horned Frog at heart as her father Thomas has been a professor here for over a decade," TCU director of volleyball Jill Kramer said in a press release. "She grew up in here as a ball girl for basketball and TCU is home. She is a great teammate, hard worker and has an outstanding volleyball IQ. She will fit very well within the culture of our Horned Frog family and I expect her to make an immediate impact for us in the gym. She will also have an impact for us in the sand as she plans to play beach volleyball as well."
After sitting out this coming year as part of the transfer rules, Walsh should make the transition from the ACC to the Big 12 with little issue and reclaim her dominating presence on the front line. She will have three seasons of eligibilty remaining at TCU. Joining her at the net could be class of fellow middle blocker Katie Clark, a rising junior at Arlington High who made her commitment to the Frogs earlier this summer.
While it is slightly unusual to see volleyball players commit so early, it was more of a homecoming for Clark than anything, making her decision an easy one.
"I wanted to stay close to home because I wanted my parents, brother, friends and family to be able to attend my games and I also wanted to have my grandparents there since they are a really big part of my life. The opportunity to play college volleyball this close where they can attend is a special opportunity," she said. "I have always been a TCU fan since I was like eight. I wanted to go to TCU when I was little and play soccer, but now I play volleyball so it was such a dream come true to be able to go to the school I have always wanted to. I have followed TCU football and TCU baseball for the last several years and TCU's athletic program success has impressed me."
At 6'3", she is an imposing presence at the net, and has the stats to back up her skill set on paper. Clark had 642 kills in her sophomore year, leading to her earning 4-6A Blocker of the Year honors. She also added 87 blocks, helping her earn her second all state selection and first first team honor. She was also District Newcomer of the Year as a freshman.
Additionally, Kramer landed the signature of junior conference star Kayla Scheevel in June. The outside hitter was a leader on and off the court for Irvine Valley College in Southern California, leading her squad to conference titles in each of her two seasons and being named the post-season tournament MVP. She was also a scholar athlete, maintaining a 3.5 GPA in the classroom.
After playing libero her first year on campus, Scheevel moved to the front lines in her sophomore campaign, where she averaged 3.11 kills and 3.49 digs per set over the course of the season. Immediately eligible for the fall, she joins an impressive incoming freshman class, which is the first ever to be nationally ranked in program history. Kramer's signing of six incoming freshmen and three transfers from across the country was good enough to finish in the top 15 classes in the country. From www.GoFrogs.com:
According to PrepVolleyball.com
15. TCU: Abigail Buckingham, 6-1 OH, Churchill (San Antonio, Texas); Sarah Langs, 6-3 MB, Lovejoy (Lucas, Texas); Shea Madeley, 5-8 L/DS, Cinco Ranch (Katy, Texas); Makena Martin, 6-1 MB, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California); Calli Novak, 6-1 OH, East View (Georgetown, Texas); Ashley Waggle, 6-0 MB, Dripping Springs (Texas)
COMMENT: Jill Pape-Kramer’s first recruiting class at TCU also happens to be the Horned Frogs’ first Top 30 ranked recruiting class in program history. Coming off of an NCAA berth and 3-0 sweep over the national runner-up, Texas, the Frogs look to add to their foundation. Senior Ace No. 18 Buckingham is a force to be reckoned with as she makes her way back to the court after two knee injuries. After spending the majority of her spring serving, passing playing defense and improving the accuracy of her powerful swing that just won’t go away, look for her to become one of the premier six-rotation players in the Big 12. Langs, the No. 99 Senior Ace, scores big in the middle with a high whip of her wrist. The Under Armour All-America will be an effective tool for the Horned Frogs in the middle. Four other freshmen round out the class. Novak, her school’s career kills and block leader; Martin, who led her league in kills in 2015; and Waggle, with almost 1,000 career kills for the Texas 2015 5A state champions, all are effective point scorers. Madeley has a beach volleyball resume that will help her transition smoothly from the outside to the back row. TCU also is excited about the impact three transfers could make on the program. Libero Kayla Scheevel, who will play Indoor and Sand, was named Co-MVP in the Orange Empire Conference at Irvine Valley College and will challenge for the libero role. Virginia transfer Anna Walsh, the 2015 East Region Freshman of the year, will make waves early in the middle for the Frogs. Lastly, Greek JNT setter, 6-1 Lamprini Konstantinidou, who transferred from West Virginia when coach Kramer left for TCU but was not granted an inter-conference release, has been waiting patiently for her time to shine training with the team while waiting to gain eligibility.