2016 #TCUVB Season Recap

Jan. 30, 2017

FORT WORTH, Texas – A new era under Director of Volleyball Jill Kramer began in 2015 and in 2016, the TCU volleyball team strived to move into the new theme of “New Level” and continue the path of success that was put before them.

"Every season and every team is different,” Kramer said. “The 2016 season was full of high expectations, some we met, some we did not, but most importantly our team believed in one another and came together when it mattered most. Some of them fought through injuries, others learned how to be efficient when a team keyed on them, but all of them became trusted team members and a part of our TCU volleyball legacy."

NCAA Dancing – Again!
For the first time in program history, the TCU volleyball team played in the postseason in back-to-back years as the Horned Frogs earned an at-large selection to the 2016 NCAA Division I Volleyball Championships. TCU was sent to Lincoln, Neb., and faced the Missouri Valley Champions Wichita State in the opening round. After a 3-1 victory over the Shockers, the Frogs then had the task of taking on No. 1 seed and defending national champion Nebraska Huskers. TCU went toe-to-toe and held Nebraska to their fourth lowest hitting percentage of the season, but the Huskers came out on top to move onto the Sweet 16.

RPI – Making the Climb
All season long, TCU held the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country for the first time in program history. The Frogs remained within the top-40 of the RPI throughout the whole season with 10 of the weeks being ranked in the top-30. TCU played 18 matches in 2016 against top-50 RPI opponents and defeated two ranked within the top 20 with all but two losses coming to opponents ranked inside the top-40 RPI. TCU had a non-conference RPI ranked at No. 10 nationally and posted 11 wins this season against the AVCA 2016 Top 100 Teams and seven wins against the AVCA 2016 Nationally Ranked Top 50 Teams. The No. 21 RPI that TCU achieved at the end of the season is the best mark in program history.

Top-10 Beware
With the victory over No. 8 North Carolina to conclude the preseason portion of the 2016 season, TCU recorded its eighth victory all-time against a ranked opponent. It also marked the second straight season that the Frogs have brought down a top-10 ranked opponent. When the Frogs beat No. 2 Texas to start the second half of Big 12 play in 2015, the win marked the third sweep all-time against a ranked foe and the first win over an opponent ranked within not only the top-10, but also the top-5 in the country. All eight wins against those ranked opponents in program history have come at home inside the University Recreation Center.

Kramer Reaches Milestone
The circle became complete for Director of Volleyball Jill Kramer as she reached career win No. 100 and her first NCAA Tournament victory in 2016. Kramer led the Frogs to their first tournament victory since 2009 with the 3-1 win over Wichita State which also marked career-win No. 100. Thirty-four of the wins came which directing TCU while the first 66 in her career came at the helm of fellow Big 12 school West Virginia.

1,000 Club
Three different Horned Frogs during the season reached career milestones with over 1,000 career digs or kills. Jillian Bergeson was first into the club by becoming the 11th player in program history to pick up over 1,000 digs with now 1,340 in her career which sits at No. 2 all-time in program career history. Sarita Mikals was next by surpassing 1,000 career digs on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Oklahoma and finished 1,102 in her career.

Ashley Smith hit 1,000 kills against Texas with 15 kills to become the 10th player in program history to achieve the feat and finished with 1,073 in her career. Smith then became the fifth player in program history to reach the 1,000 kill/dig combo when she picked up 16 digs against West Virginia in the final regular season match and finished with 1,033 in her career.

School Record Aren’t Safe
Not one, not two, but three school records fell during the 2016 season, as the TCU record book will have some new additions. Senior Sarita Mikals started the trend by picking up 36 digs in the five-set victory at Duke to break an 11-year-old school record set by Talaya Whitfield against UT-Pan American on Oct. 22, 2005. In the five-set win over Oklahoma, the single-match record in blocks and the overall team match records in blocks fell as Natalie Gower had an impressive 15 (3-12) total blocks to break the previous record of 12 total blocks that was set by teammate Regan McGuire twice in her career and Jennifer Sebastian in 2000. The team also finished the match with 23.5 total blocks which topped a 16-year-old program record of 23 that was recorded against Rice on Oct. 14, 2000.

All-American Natalie
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Gower became the fifth player in program history to garner All-America honors as Director of Volleyball Jill Kramer has now coached All-Americans in back-to-back seasons at TCU. Gower earned a spot on the honorable mention team after being named to the AVCA All-Southwest Region Team.

The middle blocker led TCU all season long offensively and defensively as she has put down 1.94 kills per set with a team-best .359 hitting clip. The senior totaled 139 blocks this season for 1.29 blocks per set which is ranked fifth and third, respectively, in the TCU single season record book. Gower led the team in kills on five occasions during her senior campaign and blocks 17 times during the season. Gower broke the school record in blocks in a single match when she recorded 15 against Oklahoma on Oct. 1 to go along with 15 kills for the first double-double of her career.

After four years on the court for TCU, Gower finished her career with 396 total blocks which ranks fourth all-time in TCU history and 1.09 blocks per set which comes in at No. 2 in the TCU career record book. Gower also had a .330 hitting percentage for her career which is ranked No. 2 all-time.

2016 Accolades
Jillian Bergeson
-TCU Invitational All-Tournament Team-Academic All-Big 12 Second Team

Natalie Gower
-TCU Invitational All-Tournament Team
-Horned Frogs Challenge All-Tournament Team
-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week (10/3)
-Academic All-Big 12 First Team
-All-Big 12 First Team
-AVCA All-Southwest Region
-AVCA Honorable Mention All-America
-Prepvolleyball.com Honorable Mention All-America
-TCU Scholar Athlete of the Month – December

Ashleigh Martin
-Academic All-Big 12 First Team
-TCU Muscle Milk Athlete of the Week (11/23)

Regan McGuire
-Bluejay Invitational All-Tournament Team

Sarita Mikals
-TCU Invitational All-Tournament Team (MVP)
-TCU Muscle Milk Athlete of the Week (8/30), (9/7), (9/27)

Chyna Perkins
-Academic All-Big 12 First Team

Ashley Smith
-Preseason All-Big 12 Team
-Horned Frogs Challenge All-Tournament Team
-Senior CLASS Award Candidate
-Academic All-Big 12 First Team
-TCU Muscle Milk Athlete of the Week (11/30)
-AVCA All-Southwest Region

Kaylee Smith
-Academic All-Big 12 Second Team

Anna Walsh
-TCU Invitational All-Tournament Team



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