Jill Kramer’s Horned Frogs are afraid of heightened expectations in 2019. When meeting with reporters earlier this weekend, the TCU Volleyball alum and fifth year head coach spoke of the talent of her team and the belief they have in themselves. Having been picked to finish third in a strong Big 12 Conference in the preseason poll, the Horned Frogs are in uncharted waters these days, but that’s not going to stop them from aiming even higher on the strength of a lot of new faces. “Lots of new faces in our gym. We have, for the first time, a preseason freshman of the year. We have a returning All-American. We have a unanimous first team Big 12 selection. We have a top five ranked class and a lot of hard-working Frogs.”
Their first opportunity to show off those new faces and put their burgeoning reputation on the line came this past weekend, as TCU welcomed a trio of teams to The Rickel as part of the Cowtown Classic. The Frogs won their first seven sets of the season, sweeping High Point and Lipscomb and taking the first set in their match against Villanova before dropping the second. They ended the weekend 9-1 in 10 sets and raising the trophy for the tournament they host.
The Frogs are a team bolstered by young talented, and even missing one of their brightest stars (élan McCall) due to injury, youth was served in a big way over the weekend. Freshman Audrey Nalls, a former top 20 recruit, announced her way in a big way in the first three games of her collegiate career, making good on the remarks her coach had made just a few days prior. “Audrey Nalls, that’s a name you’re going to hear a lot this year, I think.” In her first game, the outside hitter recorded ten kills across three sets. She added eight more in game two before exploding for 20 in game three on her way to MVP honors.
Though Nalls did her best to steal the show over the weekend in Fort Worth, she wasn’t the only player to get in a groove early. Katie Clark, fresh off of her national team experience this summer, set a personal best in hitting percentage at .533 with nine kills against Lipscomb and had 13 more in the finale verses Villanova. Freshman setter Iram Uçar led the Frogs in assists in each game she played, totaling 54 in ten sets played.
Though there is work to be done, Kramer is happy with the start to her season and the way her team played against the veteran Wildcats. “Really proud of the effort from us tonight. Our team really got tested by a great Villanova team. They’re a junior and senior laden team, so it was really great for a young team like us to be in the mix with them in a competitive match. I don’t think it was our prettiest match but we did a really good job of scoring when it mattered most at the end of the set.”
The Horned Frogs have a break to start the week before hosting their second of three non-conference tournaments next weekend. TCU will host Colorado State, Florida Atlantic and Florida State in the Fight in the Fort, Sept. 6-8 inside The Rickel.