Volleyball hopes to boost NCAA tournament status

TCU volleyball gets a chance to boost its NCAA tournament resume when it takes on No. 25 Colorado State on Thursday night in a key conference battle.

“It’s extremely important,” head coach Prentice Lewis said. “We have to prove that we can come out and play with Colorado State.”

The Horned Frogs are tied with Utah for second place in the Mountain West with a 6-2 record, while the Rams enter the match undefeated (8-0) in conference and have won 12 straight matches.

TCU’s 17-5 overall record also ties for the 37th best winning percentage in the nation.

The Horned Frogs come off a 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-21) victory over UNLV to wrap up their first round of conference play.

Outside hitters Lauren Otto and Irene Hester paced TCU’s attack with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Senior Katelyn Blackwood also piled in 18 digs in the match.

On the other side of the net, CSU is stepping up from an easy 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-15) triumph over the Utah Utes.

Junior Danielle Minch slammed a match-high 19 kills for the Rams. Senior Tessa Nelson also came up big with 11 kills.

Offensively, CSU holds the best hitting percentage in conference (.248). The Rams are also first in kills (13.36 per set) and assists (12.19 per set).

“They have a lot of offensive threats,” Lewis said. “We need to play sound defense and be able to put the ball away.

In the first meeting between the two teams, Colorado State shot a .275 hitting percentage with 43 kills and beat TCU in three sets.

“We just weren’t getting kills, and we weren’t really running an offense,” Lewis said on the previous meeting. “If you’re not at least digging and passing balls to the target, it’s going to be hard.

Colorado State’s defense may also provide give TCU problems as well. The Rams are first in opponent hitting percentage (.155) and are second in both blocks (2.72 per set) and digs (14.92). CSU middle blocker Tessa Nelson leads the conference in blocks per set (1.30), and libero Katelin Batten is second in the league in digs per set (4.22).

“Batten is a great libero,” Lewis said. “She’s all over the place. They dig well. It’s more of their blocking than just their defense. They’re going to have two blockers on your outsides every time. They’re a good all-around team.”

TCU also boasts a solid offensive and defensive attack.

The Horned Frogs have the best hitter in the conference with senior Kourntey Edwards (.385 hitting percentage, and as a team shoot a .223 attack. TCU is second in the MWC in kills per set (12.99) and hold opponents to a .157 hitting percentage (2nd MWC).

TCU’s RPI (rating percentage index) currently stands at 64th in the country. Colorado State has a solid RPI at 21, giving the Horned Frogs a big opportunity for an upset.

“We’re fortunate to have them at home,” Lewis said. “I think our team is ready, and we anticipate a great match.”

Where: University Recreation Center

Time: 7 p.m.

Side note: TCU is having a “Purple Out.” First 1,000 fans get a purple T-shirt.