TCU Volleyball was back in action this weekend, and the result was leagues better than their season opening matches at Baylor. After failing to win a set last weekend, the Frogs won four this weekend, splitting their matchup with Texas Tech.
TCU bounced back from their poor season-opening performances to make a statement on Thursday night against Tech. Quite frankly, it was one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen from a TCU team.
It came in their first-ever match in Schollmaier Arena, which only added to the excitement.
The Frogs put up a whopping 76 kills in the match, and they needed every one of them. TCU would win 17-15 in the fifth set after an absolute battle with the Red Raiders.
“We showed our faith and belief in one another to come from behind in the first and fifth sets,” head coach Jill Kramer said. “They trusted one another and trusted themselves to get the win. I’m proud of this team for stepping up and getting this win together.”
The kill total was the highest TCU has put up in the 25-point, rally scoring era, which started in 2008. Overall, it was the most kills that the Frogs had recorded as a team since September 2007.
If you’re wondering if that’s good, it is. It’s really dang good.
The offense was led by a pair of bright sophomores in Afedo (“Smiley”) Manyang and Julia Adams. The two young stars were virtually unstoppable, pouring in 24 kills each.
Adams made the All-Big 12 Rookie team in 2019, and Smiley led the team with 0.95 blocks per set. The Frogs are looking for a lot from both of them this season.
That wasn’t all TCU got from their sophomore class, though. Setter McKenzie Nichols was an absolute maestro, dishing out 64 assists.
That’s more assists than any other Frog has recorded since TCU joined the Big 12 and the most period since 2004.
Nichols was so good, the NCAA Volleyball page even shouted her out.
From the start, it was clear that the match would be a dogfight. Thanks to six kills and .500 hitting from Manyang, TCU overcame an early deficit to slip past Tech 27-25 in the opening set.
The next two sets went to the Red Raiders, but they were only won by two and four points, respectively.
Facing defeat, the Frogs turned it up a notch. TCU was unreal on both sides of the ball, with Nichols collecting 18 assists, Adams and Manyang combining for 12 kills, and defensive specialists Dani Dennison and Berklie Baker combining for 12 digs.
The Frogs pounded the Red Raiders 25-17 in the fourth set to tie the match score at two apiece.
Both teams turned up the flame in the fifth set. After Tech jumped in front, TCU came surging back, tying it at 10.
It would be tied several more times before the squads found themselves notched in a 15-15 deuce. Then, Manyang ripped off two-straight kills to end the game and earn TCU their first dub of 2020.
Dennison, who recently reached 1,000 digs for her career, tallied 24 total kills in the contest.
Friday night brought the same fight from TCU but a different result. Despite a strong defensive effort by the Frogs, the Red Raiders collected 64 kills of their own to take game two 3-1 and split the weekend series.
TCU recorded 68 digs as a team, with 31 coming from the duo of Dennison and Baker.
Though the Frogs were fighting hard to extend plays, they struggled to find the offensive fire they had possessed the night before, finishing with just 46 kills as a team.
I will say, considering TCU only reached 46 kills in 14 of their matches last year, it’s good to see the Frogs started to find a groove on offense.
For the second night in a row, TCU won the opening set of the match.
Adams put down five kills, while sophomore McKayla Meyers collected four of her own. The Frogs came out on top 25-21 in the opening set to win their third-straight set over the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech was done losing after that, though. TCU was able to start every set strong, but the Red Raiders used late runs to take the final three sets.
“We were sharp in the first set and a half and had a tough time keeping that pace,” Kramer said. “We need to learn from this heading into our next series.”
Samantha Sanders and Caitlin Dugan (lesser way to spell that last name) combined for 41 kills for Texas Tech, who hit .292 as compared to TCU’s .137.
Adams (14) and Manyang (15) reached double-digit kills once again, but they were alone on offense for most of the night.
Preseason All-Big 12 Katie Clark had not played in the second game for an undisclosed reason.
The Volley Frogs return to action on Thursday and Friday at West Virginia. Thursday night’s game is scheduled for 5 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPNU.