Volleyball sets new team record in wins

It has been quite a year for the TCU volleyball team.

The Horned Frogs’ 26 wins and 13 conference victories are the most in school history, and the second-place finish in the Mountain West Conference marks the best finish since the team was runner-up of the 2004 Conference USA regular-season.

But now, TCU can add another monumental feat to the record book — its first NCAA tournament appearance.

Thanks to a solid RPI ranking (44), a 12-1 finish and key wins against New Mexico, Colorado State, Long Beach State and UC-Irvine, the Horned Frogs (26-6, 13-3 MWC) received an at-large bid and will take on the Rice Owls.

“It’s fantastic for these young ladies to have this opportunity and get there,” head coach Prentice Lewis said. “I’m excited because I know what it means and I know everything that goes on, so it’s very easy for me to explain it to our athletes.”

With no postseason tournament in the Mountain West, TCU concluded the season with critical wins against Long Beach State, a tournament qualifier, and UC-Irvine (No. 69 RPI).

“It was huge,” senior Katelyn Blackwood said. “Long Beach State is the Big West champion and UCI was No. 2 (Big West), and we took them both out. It was just showing everybody that this small, little, private Texas school could play with big California teams.”

In the two matches, the Horned Frogs averaged a .282 hitting percentage and combined for an astounding 120 kills as a team.

Junior Christy Hudson averaged 14 kills, while senior Kourtney Edwards tallied 28 kills total.

Rice (23-8, 11-5 C-USA) is making its third appearance in the Big Dance and is on the heels of a conference championship win against Tulsa. After defeating the Hurricane, the Owls upset No.17 LSU in its regular season finale.

“They’re a great team,” Lewis said. “It’ll be a great battle.”

Ashleigh McCord (3.93 kills per set) and Natalie Bogan (3.23 kills per set, .344 hitting percentage) lead a speedy Owl offense, while Tracey Lam (5.44 digs per set) and Bogan (.96 blocks per set) control the defensive end.

“They’re very quick,” senior Lauren Otto said. “We’re just going to go down there and play hard, play like a team and play like we have all season.”

Although TCU is in the Omaha Regional, the team’s first destination is Austin, where No. 2 Texas (24-1, 19-1 Big 12) awaits next door.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity, and it’s even better since it’s against Rice,” Hudson said. “We played them last year and had a poor performance, so we know we can do it if we just play well. This year we’ve definitely been picking up our game a lot so we’re just excited to play in the UT gym and show what we’re made of.”

TCU has even offered a free bus ride and ticket for fans, students, and staff members who want to make the three-hour trip.

Colorado State, the Mountain West champion, and New Mexico were the other two conference teams that made the tournament.

The Horned Frogs’ match is slated for Thursday, December 3 at 4:30 p.m.