TCU Slated to Open Season at Penn State

Seniors Stephanie Holland and Mattie Burleson

Seniors Stephanie Holland and Mattie Burleson
Aug. 28, 2014

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FORT WORTH, Texas - The TCU volleyball team will open the 2014 campaign by heading to State College, Pa., to take part in the Penn State Classic on Aug. 29-30.

To begin the 19th season in program history, the Horned Frogs will take on preseason No. 1 and defending national champion Penn State on Friday at 6:30 p.m., CT. TCU will conclude the opening weekend of play by taking on William and Mary and Iona at Noon, CT and 3 p.m., CT, respectively, on Saturday.

Live stats to all three matches can be found on GoFrogs.com, while a live audio feed with Jeff Lewis on the call will be available through FrogVision with a CBS Sports All-Access subscription.

TCU QUICK HITS
TCU returns for the 2014 season after posting a winning record for the ninth time in the last 12 years under head coach Prentice Lewis.

2014 marks the 19th season in program history and the 13th under the helm of Lewis. TCU has an overall program record of 285-288, with Lewis collecting 228 of those wins. 14 returners will be on the roster for the Horned Frogs, including five returning starters and the libero.

TCU returns 80 percent of their offense from a year ago and will only be without the services of former Frog Yvonne Igodan. Seniors Stephanie Holland and Mattie Burleson will look to finish out their final year strong and will be joined by four juniors, nine sophomores and two freshmen.

TCU's slate will include matches against six teams who participated in the NCAA tournament, including a season-opening match against defending national champion Penn State.

FOLLOW THE FROGS
Audio for all away TCU volleyball matches is available through FrogVision on TCU's Offical Athletics Website, GoFrogs.com. Jeff Lewis will provide play-by-play and analysis for the all game in the 2014 season.

Video for all home TCU matches, that are not live on television, is streamed on FrogVision through GoFrogs.com with Lewis on the call. Audio and video both require a CBS Sports All-Access subscription for access to FrogVision. Visit GoFrogs.com for more information.

BREAKING DOWN THE OPPONENT - PENN STATE
This will be the second year in a row that Penn State will open the season at home with the Penn State Classic. The defending national champions have won five of the last seven national titles, while also picking up 10 of the last 11 Big 10 titles.

The preseason No. 1 team and preseason Big 10 favorite Nittany Lions return three starters and the libero from the championship squad of a year ago. Of the four seniors, setter Micha Hancock is the biggest returner after dishing out 1,425 assists and 82 service aces on her way to being named the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Two offensive weapons in Megan Courtney and Nia Grant return to the court for Penn State. Courtney put down 297 kills and 2.48 kills per set, while Grant hammered down 208 kills and 1.76 kills per set.

Five letterwinners may have graduated, but Penn State picked up eight newcomers to compliment their returners.

BREAKING DOWN THE OPPONENT - WILLIAM & MARY
William and Mary returns the majority of the offense and defense from a year ago after making a second straight run to the CAA Tournament. The Tribe returns 91% of its offensive productions, including three of the CAA's top nine attackers and four who averaged more than 2.0 kills per set.

Leading the offensive stride will be two-time All-CAA performer Dessi Koleva, who averaged 2.94 kills and 3.16 digs per set last fall. Joining Koleva on the outside will be three-year starter Liz Brown who put down 2.88 kills per set and hit a career-high .206 in her junior year.

The setter position returns two experienced sophomores in Paige Lucas and Stephanie Paul. The duo ran a 6-2 offense in the final third of the season last fall, with Lucas finishing the season with just under nine assists per set and Paul averaging 4.46 assists per set.

BREAKING DOWN THE OPPONENT - IONA
After being picked to finish third in the MAAC, Iona returns two of their top three hitters, along with setter Natalie Ziskin under fourth year head coach Jon Killingbeck.

Catrina Warren and Ziskin were recently named to the Preseason All-MAAC Team. Warren was a unanimous selection after being named to the All-MAAC First Team last year. Warrent led the MAAC in kills per set (3.60), points per set (4.03) and was the only performer to average more than four per set.


Ziskin garnered All-MAAC second team honors in 2013 and was one of two MAAC performers to average more than 10 assists per set at 10.78. Ziskin also recorded 237 digs on teh season and 2.17 digs per set.

BLOCKING MACHINES
There will be a tight battle for playing time at the middle blocker position, as Regan McGuire, Mattie Burleson and Natalie Gower all saw significant time on the court last fall.


Burleson led the team for the second straight season in blocking with 113.0 and finished 10th in the Big 12 with 1.07 blocks per set. Gower finished fifth on the team in kills a year ago with 148 and garnered a Big 12 Rookie of the Week honor after playing in 83 sets. McGuire started the first six matches for TCU and tied the individual match record for blocks in a game with 12 against Lipscomb.

TIME TO FACE NO. 1...AGAIN
Facing the No. 1 team in the country is not new for the Horned Frogs. TCU met up with the No. 1 team for the first time in program-history, when they faced off against Texas for the second time last season. The highest ranked opponent TCU has beaten was No. 13 Colorado State, which came on Nov. 8, 2008.


TCU is 5-47 against ranked opponents and under coach Prentice Lewis, the Horned Frogs are 5-37 against ranked opponents. TCU's first win against a ranked opponent came on Nov. 15, 2007, when the Horned Frogs beat then-No. 17 Colorado State 3-2 (22-30, 30-22, 22-30, 30-28, 18-16). TCU's last win against a ranked opponent came on Nov. 10, 2011, when the Horned Frogs beat then-No. 23 Colorado State 3-2 (25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 20-25, 15-11).

In 2012, TCU faced a school-record nine ranked opponents in a single season. This is the second season in a row that TCU has played a top 5 team in the preseason after facing off against No. 3 USC last fall.

LEFT HANDED DUO
With the use of a 6-2 offense, TCU depends heavily on their two lefties, Stephanie Holland and Blaire Pickens, for kills.


Holland finished third on the team in kills with 252 and 2.33 kills per game to go along with 75 total blocks. The Richardson, Texas native was named AVCA All-Southwest Region Honorable Mention after leading the team in kills in nine matches and finishing at least a .333 hitting percentage in seven of the last nine matches.

Pickens has also been effective on the right side for the Frogs and finished fourth on the team with 149 kills, while also posting 39 blocks. The California native played in 30 of the 31 matches last fall for TCU and contributed 10 plus points in five matches for the Frogs.

GUIDING THE OFFENSE
Back for the second straight year, Alexia Heist and Trisha Langley will be running the TCU 6-2 offense and dishing out the assists for the season.


Heist led the team with 647 assists and 5.73 assists per set, which was good for No. 10 in the Big 12. Langley notched 485 assists over the course of the year and 4.25 assists per set, while also leading the team in service aces.

The duo played in every match a year ago and led the team in double-doubles, with Heist recording 10 and Langley finishing with four.

MEET THE NEWCOMERS
TCU has brought in three newcomers to compliment the 14 returners for this year's roster.


Sarita Mikals transfers to TCU from Houston, where she was the top performer this season after appearing in all 33 matches, 122 sets and finishing with 393 total kills and 312 digs.

Mia Swanegan was the lone fall signee from Blue Springs, Mo., where she a three-time all-conference and all-district selection.

Skyler Flynn is the final newcomer from Orange Lutheran High School in California, where she was named First-Team All-League and Honorable Mention All-Orange County.

FILL THAT GYM
1,350 may be the max attendance at TCU, but that does not stop the Horned Frogs from filling the gym to make it one of the hardest places to play in the country.


17,280 fans walked through the University Recreation Center doors in 2013, as the team finished 36th in the nation in attendance. TCU boasted seven sellouts in 2013 and their average of 1,329 fans was good for fifth in the Big 12.

The Frogs have posted 108 wins in the URC since 2003 and a .702 winning percentage.

THE SOPHOMORES
The eight freshmen from a year ago have all grown up and will use their experience as sophomores in 2014.

Trisha Langley and Shane Peters were two rookies who saw action in every match last fall. Langley led the team in service aces (30) and helped run the 6-2 offense with Alexia Heist. Peters led the team in digs (394) after starting the last 25 matches in the defensive role and recorded 20 double-digit dig matches.

Ashley Smith was a constent presence on offense for TCU and finished second on the team with 265 kills and first in kills per set with 2.62. Smith finished the season strong and picked up the final Rookie of the Week honors, while Natalie Gower earned a weekly honor earlier in the season.

Gower and Regan McGuire split time at middle blocker for the Frogs, as the duo were consistent blockers for TCU, as the pair combined for 118.0 total blocks. Gower recorded four double-digit kill matches, wile McGuire saw action in 55 sets and put down 50 kills.

BIG 12 - THE BEST IN THE NATION
TCU enters its third season in the Big 12 Conference, which has established itself as the best conference in the nation for volleyball. The Big 12 has had three teams finish in the top 25 in each year and a total of 70 top 25 finishes all-time.


By winning the 2012 Division I National Championship, Texas became the third Big 12 team in the last 13 years to capture the title. 2013 marked the fifth straight season four or more Big 12 teams earned bids to the NCAA postseason event.


 

 


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