TCU Drops Season Opener to No. 1 Penn State
Aug. 29, 2014
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The TCU volleyball team could not overcome No. 1 Penn State and dropped their season opening match in State College 3-0 (10-25, 17-25, 17-25) to open the Penn State Classic on Friday night.
The loss marks only the fifth time that the Horned Frogs (0-1) have dropped the season opener under head coach Prentice Lewis, as the defending national champion Nittany Lions (1-0) proved to have the winning plays necessary to take the victory in straight sets.
The outside hitters were the main contributors on the night for TCU, as Ashley Smith and Sarita Mikals each recorded nine kills. Heist and Langley split the setting duties, with Heist recording 16 assists and Langley dishing out 11. On defense, Shane Peters contributed six digs, while Natalie Gower picked up three blocks at the net.
Mattie Burleson gave TCU the first point of the match with a kill off the right side, but a series of runs from the Nittany Lions kept the Horned Frogs at bay most of the set. A block from Gower and Stephanie Holland brought the match within one at 4-3, but a 9-3 run by Penn State stretched the lead to 13-6.
Kills from Smith and Holland would close the gap to six, but the .727 hitting percentage that Penn State was able to record was too much for TCU to handle as Nittany Lions ended the set on a 10-1 run to win it 25-10.
With the first set behind them, TCU would jump out to a 3-2 lead with Mikals and Smith combining for the kills on the outside. Penn State would make a few runs to take back the lead, but the Houston transfer would be a bright spot off the bench for the Horned Frogs and kept the second set close after notching her second kill to pull the set within one, 8-7.
Three points from the Nittany Lions did not hold TCU back, as Mikals once again connected for a kill, along with Holland, to pull the match back within two, 11-9. Penn State would regroup for a 6-1 run before two kills from Smith and a shutdown block from Smith and Gower put the match back within five, 18-13.
The teams continued to trade points, as Mikals found her stride downed kills, but the serving runs and strong offensive attack from the Nittany Lions proved to be too much in the end. Three straight kills from Aiyana Whiteny and Simone Lee gave Penn State the 25-17 win and a 2-0 lead.
After the break, TCU continued to fight throughout the match with Smith and Mikals putting down significant kills in the third set. Mikals would slam one down the line to bring the match within one at 7-6, but a Horned Frog error sparked an 8-0 unanswered run by Penn State.
Mikals was again was the answer TCU needed, as she picked up her third kill of the set to end the run. A kill from Ali Frantti halted the momentum only momentarily, as a kill from Regan McGuire started a 3-0 run, bringing the match within six at 16-10 and forcing a Penn State timeout.
Aiyana Whitney picked up a kill out of the timeout, but the Horned Frogs continued to make small runs and bring the lead down to four at 20-16 with a block from Gower and Blaire Pickens. The effort would not be enough, as a 5-1 run would close out the match at 25-17.
TCU will continue its opening weekend of play by playing William and Mary on Saturday at Noon, CT at Rec Hall. The Horned Frogs will then close out the tournament by taking on Iona at 3 p.m., CT. Live stats and live audio of both matches can be found GoFrogs.com.
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