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Beach Volleyball: Sandy Frogs claim CCSA Championship

TCU climbs out from the elimination bracket to exact revenge on #7 GCU.

Photo Courtesy TCU Athletics

In a bit of a shock to start the postseason run for TCU, the Frogs dropped their opening match to the other purple-clad -CU, Grand Canyon University, forcing the Frogs to make the climb out of the elimination bracket in search of the governing body’s championship last weekend. Let’s chronicle the improbable loss and subsequent run to the championship.

Day 1:

With weather impacting the tournament locale, the CCSA made an adjustment to playing formats in the tournament: once a match hit the critical third win (of 5 matches) to secure the victory, play would be called for said matchup. So, with the amended rules, TCU failed to record a win in a matchup all season long, falling 0-3 to GCU.

After dropping the first two sets in anticlimactic fashion (with the pairing of MacTavish and Hamlett failing to score more than 15 points in either game), TCU was leading the following two matches. Still, the other in-progress match quickly reached a third set, where Hailey Brockett and Rochelle Scott simply couldn’t hang on, dropping the final frame 21-23 and ending the matchup with the Frogs leading the other two matches.

It was the first time TCU failed to record a point—albeit with amended scoring rules—and was not how TCU envisioned the kickoff to their postseason. The loss sent TCU reeling into the loser’s bracket of the double elimination tournament, where the Frogs would have to demonstrate their grit and determinedness if they hoped to navigate to the championship.

Day 2:

On the second day in Alabama, TCU faced off against two opponents: Missouri State, and #4 Florida State. TCU quickly dispatched the Beach Bears, winning all five sets in straight sets. Daniela Alvarez and Tania Moreno demonstrated the fierceness indicative of TCU’s frustration with losing from the day prior, winning their matchup 21-6, 21-7. No game was within 5 points for any Frog, and the Beach Bears have yet to record a win against TCU.

Next up was familiar foe, #4 Florida State, whom TCU had most recently faced in the final matchup of the regular season and winning 3-2. Rinse, repeat on Friday as TCU once again took care of business against the Seminoles, winning 3-2. TCU’s winning matches were all secured in straight sets by 5+ points each game and while the Frogs dropped two against a tough opponent, it was evident the squad was on a mission. Once again, Alvarez and Moreno secured the match win for the Frogs, knocking off their opponent 21-16, 21-16.

Day 3:

After extending their semifinal-or-better run in the CCSA tournament with the win over FSU, the Frogs were up against LSU for the third time this season in the semis. TCU started off strong, winning their first two matches in straight sets.

Then, while it took a little extra effort and a decisive third set, Alvarez and Moreno were able to clinch the match for the Frogs and earn TCU a spot in the championship match for the second consecutive season. Although the Frogs dropped on match in the face-off against LSU, it was a largely dominant win for TCU and teed up a second round with the ‘Lopes of GCU in the championship.

As one might expect from a top-ranked program and national championship contending squad, the rematch against GCU was more than playing for hardware and arguably prioritized demonstrating their fortitude. GCU seemed to have awoken the beast within, as TCU grinded out of the lower bracket and had something to prove to the #7 team in the country. TCU set the pace in the championship by winning four of the first five sets in the match.

Maria Gonzales and Ana Vergara took the first point in a dominant 21-7, 21-15 straight set victory. Shortly thereafter, Scott and Brockett exacted their revenge by winning the second point in a straight set victory. Then, to seal it up for the Frogs, MacTavish and Hamlett proved their metal in another straight set victory. Chronic match-clinchers Alvarez and Moreno did not have to complete their match, and while victory was sweet, a championship was sweeter, and the revenge of the earlier loss even more so.

Diana Alvarez and Tania Moreno were named Pairing of the Tournament, and Scott/Brockett as well as MacTavish/Hamlett secured All-Tournament honors as well. The championship victory punched the Frogs’ ticket to the NCAA tournament, where they enter as the #2 overall seed and face off against Stetson on Thursday afternoon in Gulf Shores (and are slated to face off with GCU one final time, assuming both teams advance).