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TCU volleyball’s victory over Kansas is bigger than just a tally in the win column

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Jill Kramer’s squad might be getting hot at the right time.

Last Saturday, while everyone’s mind was on what TCU football could have done against No. 11 Baylor, TCU Volleyball was focused on what they were about to do against the Kansas Jayhawks.

With the Frogs tied for last in the Big 12 heading into Saturday’s contest, many would already see this season as a loss for head coach Jill Kramer’s squad.

But that’s not the ship Kramer ever has, or ever will, run here in Fort Worth. Her team is trained to fight like their season depends on it night in and night out. I mean, TCU’s theme entering the season was #battleangels. What else would you expect?

This was never more present than on Saturday, as the Frogs dominated the Jayhawks 3-1 behind their best offensive performance of the season. Though the game adds just one tally in the win column for TCU, the victory means much more for the struggling Frogs in the context of their season for many reasons.

“You want to win on the road, but you really want to protect your home court. You really want to do your best for the people that come out to support you,” Kramer said. “I really liked how hard we fought tonight. And then maybe the more important thing is as our season has had ups and downs and we have struggled; we came in with a lot of confidence in ourselves and in our team against a team that swept us the time before.”

1.) TCU struggled mightily in their last matchup with Kansas.

During the first half of Big 12 play, the Frogs travelled to Lawrence on October 19th. The result was ugly, as TCU looked lost and got pounded 3-0. In that match, the Frogs were hardly ever in it, putting up just 34 kills while committing 26 errors as a team.

To put it bluntly, the Frogs looked like the little brother (sister?) of the Big 12 last time they saw Kansas. That left a bad taste in TCU’s mouth.

2.) The Frogs displayed a level of offensive production on Saturday that everyone had expected to see this season but had yet to actually see.

With the return of All-American outside hitter élan McCall and the No. 6 recruiting class in the country (that’s right, the country), TCU was expected to be one of the Big 12’s biggest offensive threats this year.

Before Saturday, the Frogs had only topped the 50-kill mark six times all season (11 at this point in 2018), while hitting above .275 as a team just twice (seven in 2018).

Against Kansas, it looked like TCU finally found an identity offensively. The Frogs went off for 64 kills as a team (second-highest in Big 12 play) on a .293 hitting clip as a team (Big 12-high). True freshman setter McKenzie Nichols was instrumental in this, recording a game-high 46 assists.

Kramer said a few weeks ago that Nichols had yet to find her groove with so many options at hitter. I guess she has now.

3.) McCall wasn’t TCU’s only source of offense. The future is bright.

While élan McCall showed flashes of what burst her onto the scene a year ago with 14 kills, she wasn’t alone.

Middle blocker Katie Clark joined her fellow sophomore with 14 kills herself to go with four digs and a service ace.

The largest bright spot on offense for TCU on Saturday though was freshman Julia Adams. The Plano native exploded for career-highs in kills (23), hitting percentage (.500), and blocks (six). She did all of this while recording just two errors.

Julia [Adams] had a great night, élan [McCall] looked like her normal self, Katie [Clark] was working really hard in transition,” Kramer said. “But Julia showed up all night long, mixed up her shots all night long and that was really cool to see.”

Adam’s kill total was the highest for a Horned Frog since McCall popped off for 24 against Texas on October 19, 2018. The outside hitter’s performance gives TCU hope for both the present and the future of the young program.

4.) Fans clearly haven’t given up on TCU.

Combining the fact that the Frogs have struggled mightily this season and the TCU football team played at home just hours before, a large crowd wasn’t exactly expected at the Rickel on Saturday.

The result was quite the contrary, though. A whopping 2,020 fans, the tenth-largest crowd in TCU history, showed up to see the Frogs take care of the Jayhawks.

“First, I really want to thank our fans,” Kramer said. “For our fans to come out in full force, regardless of our past results this season, says a lot about TCU athletics and the support we have from Horned Frog nation.”

This hasn’t been uncommon for Horned Frog nation this year, as every home match for TCU this season has been sold out (also a program record).

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Having now risen to sixth in the Big 12, the Frogs look to gain some momentum on Wednesday, as they head to Morgantown face West Virginia. Though the Mountaineers sit at the bottom of the conference, TCU knows not to take anyone lightly, especially on the road.

“Our conference is tough. Our league is tough. And you got to fight really hard for every single win,” Kramer said.