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Beach Volleyball: Sandy Frogs’ season ends in the NCAA Final Four

After a hot start, Frogs fall to the #3 USC Trojans 2-3 in the NCAA Semifinals, ending their historic season

Photo Courtesy TCU Athletics

TCU was seeded as the #2 overall seed in the NCAA tournament last weekend, looking to extend their best season in program history and perhaps claim a national title for the “everything school”. Although the Frogs stumbled in the semifinal matchup with USC, it was a hell of a run for the Sandy Frogs this season and the team can hold their heads high after securing the #1 spot in the country for an extended run, setting a home win record, and setting records for the most number of wins and sweeps in a season in program history. Let’s breakdown each matchup from the NCAA Tournament in Gulf Shores.

Round of 16: #15 Stetson

TCU kicked off the NCAA tournament matched up against familiar foe, #15 Stetson, whom TCU most recently faced in Florida back in March—which ended in a 5-0 sweep. The Frogs headed into the tournament looking to build upon their first ever tournament win from last season, and the Frogs started hot, dispatching the first two matches in straight sets. Dynamic duo Daniela Alvarez and Tania Moreno were especially on-point as they capped off their straight-set victory without letting their opponent within 5 points. Rochelle Scott and Hailey Brockett brought it home with a third-set victory after dropping the opening set, coincidentally the only set lost in the match. With the win, TCU secured their third-ever bid to the Elite 8 and were awaiting either a dramatic re-match with the GCU Antelopes or squaring off with the Stanford Cardinal for the first.

Quarterfinals: #10 Stanford

With Stanford knocking off GCU in their first round matchup, the Frogs were set to face the Cardinal for the first time this year. Mirroring the prior day’s match against Stetson, TCU swept Stanford 3-0, with two dominant wins and one more come-from-behind third set clincher from Scott and Brockett. Sutton MacTavish and Hailey Hamlett were dominant in their straight-set victory, knocking off their match with wins of 21-16, 21-9. While this was the third Elite 8 appearance for TCU, the victory sealed their first NCAA Final Four appearance, where there would be matched up with USC for the second time this season.

Semifinals: #3 USC

In their first semifinal appearance, the Frogs were looking to emulate their performance against USC from their prior meeting in mid-March, where TCU took care of the then #2 team 4-1 to beat the Trojans for the first time ever. Tournament play is a different beast and while the Frogs seemed to cruise back in March, they knew it was going to require a elevation to a different level of play to advance to the Championship. TCU’s core pairing of Alvarez and Moreno secured the first point for the Frogs with a 21-19, 21-19 straight set victory, giving the pairing a 34-1 record for the season, another program record. The Frogs looked to have the matchup well in hand after the second point was secured, going up 2-0 with three matches in-play. After dropping the next two to the Trojans, the pressure was back on Rochelle Scott and Hailey Brockett to clinch the third victory in three matches. Once again, Scott and Brockett took it to the brink: the pairing won the first set, dropped the middle set, then simply could not hang on in the final frame, dropping the set 12-15 and unfortunately ending the Frogs’ tournament and season.

At the end of the day, expectations were high and certainly TCU was looking to make it to the NCAA Championship and pursue their first national title for the program. Still, this was a season to remember for the Horned Frogs Beach Volleyball Team. The Frogs set program records for wins (37), ranked wins (20), sweeps (27), a 36-match home winning streak intact, their first CCSA Conference Title, their first Elite 8 victory, and their first Final Four appearance.