Volleyball picks up winning speed on the road

The volleyball team seems to have mastered a key element that may prove crucial as it delves deeper into Mountain West Conference play – how to take care of business on the road.

“Part of the reason we were away so much is because we haven’t been a major success on the road,” said head coach Prentice Lewis. “I feel it put us in a good position.”

The Horned Frogs won their third straight tournament Sept. and 19 in the UTA Hilton Invitational with wins against Arkansas State and University of Texas at Arlington. The team also won at home against Tulsa on Sept. 18. The victories pushed the team’s win streak to seven matches.

Defense, as well as a home-court advantage, was key in the Horned Frogs’ 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22) win over Tulsa, as the team rejected 13 Hurricane attacks in the match.

“Our defense was great,” Lewis said. “Obviously we had more blocks and I think that was the underlying element.”

Two-time MWC Player of the Week Kourntey Edwards led with 18 kills.

Senior defensive specialist Katelyn Blackwood, who tallied 24 digs, said moving the ball around to different players was key in the win.

“They picked up a lot of balls so we had to make adjustments,” Blackwood said. “A lot of teams become one-dimensional when you can’t get to digs and passes, but we were dynamic. It was fun.”

The team defeated Arkansas State 3-1 (21-25, 28-26, 25-20, 25-15) in their match.

Both Edwards and Christy Hudson led the offense with 17 and 15 kills, respectively.

The final match placed the Horned Frogs against the UTA Mavericks. Edwards continued her solid play with 12 kills and five blocks.

Back-to-back aces by Kristen Hester gave the team a steady lead in game one, but the Mavericks fought back to tie the game at 19. The Horned Frogs responded with a 5-0 run to take the set.

Set two nearly mirrored the first as TCU took an early lead. UTA tied the score at 18, but blasts by Hudson and senior Lauren Otto started another TCU run to put the Mavericks away.

A third set saw UTA take an 11-10 advantage, but TCU rallied behind a kill by Hannah Fort and five service points by Irene Hester to leap ahead. A Maverick miscue handed the Horned Frogs match point, and a block by Hudson and Edwards sealed the deal.

Both Edwards and Hudson were named to the All-Tournament team.

“I was really excited,” said Hudson, who finished with 10 kills against UTA. “I had a slow start to the season but with hard work and going through video with my coaches we were able to make connections.”

The Horned Frogs improved to 12-3 overall, including a 9-1 campaign on the road and in neutral territory.

The Horned Frogs will face Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo., on Thursday at 8 p.m.

“We are getting into the heart of conference play,” said Hudson on the upcoming match. “Coming off another tournament victory will only help our confidence.”