Duo Named AVCA All-Southwest Region

Dec. 6, 2016

FORT WORTH, Texas – TCU volleyball seniors Natalie Gower and Ashley Smith were named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Southwest Region team on Tuesday morning.

The duo, who were named to the All-Southwest Region team last year, become the first Horned Frogs in TCU volleyball history to earn postseason honors from the AVCA in back-to-back seasons. Players and coaches honored by the AVCA today will be eligible for a spot on the All-America team, which will be revealed on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Gower has 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. 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. The St. Louis, Mo., native also had a .330 hitting percentage for her career which is ranked No. 2 all-time.

"Natalie has been a constant for us both offensively and defensively the past couple of years, Director of Volleyball Jill Kramer said. “Her growth in the gym and as a leader on and off the court has been very cool to watch unfold and was directly reflected in her stats. She brought it every match and stepped up in situations when her team needed her most.”

After starting the season at the libero position, Smith worked her way back into the lineup to be a constant presence on the court for TCU the last half of the season at outside hitter. Only three matches in the last four years have not featured Smith as she finished her career with 1,073 kills and 1,033 digs to become the fifth player in program history and first since 2009 to record over 1,000 kills and digs. A 2015 AVCA Honorable Mention All-American, Smith put down 2.39 kills per set to go along with 2.82 digs per set in the second half of the season after returning to the outside hitter position and leading TCU to a 3-2 win over No. 8 North Carolina to end preseason action. The League City, Texas native led TCU in kills six times during the 2016 season and recorded eight double-doubles to wrap-up her career with 33 which ranks sixth in TCU history.

"Ashley had a lot to work through this year,” Kramer said. “She started the season as our libero, so we could have her on the court to pass but limit her jumps. The last match of our preseason we moved her back to the outside and she responded wonderfully. There aren't many six rotation outside hitters putting up the consistent numbers that she does on a regular basis. Her consistency in her attitude and her play were key for our team this season."

TCU finished the 2016 season by advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history. The Frogs defeated Wichita State in four sets to open the championship before falling to No. 2 Nebraska who was the top seed in the tournament. TCU finished the season with an overall record of 15-13 and 7-9 in Big 12 action. 



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