By David F.P. [Modest Image Gallery]
STORRS, CT – The opening match of the Saturday session of the UConn Toyota Classic featured the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs and the Long Island University Blackbirds. TCU was coming off a victory over UNH the previous night and LIU had lost their opening match to the host Connecticut Huskies. In the end TCU would need only three sets to pick up the win over LIU but the Blackbirds did not go without a fight.
(Note any references to Hester refers to Kristen, if Irene is mentioned her first name is in front of it.)
As always with recaps I tend to focus on the offensive, as it it hard enough to follow the fast paced action, but this is not to in any way downgrade the importance of key sets and key defensive plays. I do note defensive saves whenever I have time to right them down.
Set 1 opened up to a 6-6 tie. Long Island’s points came from Svetlana Simic and Ashley Rice’s kills, a spike from Martina Racic, another Racic kill just in bounds, a tandem block, and an Simic kill that ricocheted off the defenders and out. TCU’s points came off a Kourtney Edwards put over, a Irene Hester smash, Kristen Hester’s tap to a gap, a pair of LIU attack errors, and Christy Hudson’s hammer shot off the defense.
The Horned Frogs broke out with five straight points off a Hester attack, an attack LIU was unable to return, a Sloane Sunstrum kill knocked off the block and out, a Long Island two contact error, and a Irene Hester service ace. LIU called a time out with the score 11-6.
Play resumed and Hudson picked up a kill, though Simic responded with a kill just in bounds in the defense’s corner. An LIU error put the score at 13-7 and the teams began trading points for a time reaching a 20-12 score in favor of Texas Christian. The frogs picked up points off a LIU error, a Hudson tap over the blockers, a Edwards blast, a Irene Hester kill, and later a pounce by her on the overpass, a LIU for contact error, and a Hester kill off the blockers. Long Island’s points came mostly via Kelsi Klikus’s hard spike, a TCU lift, another Racic kill, and a Breanna Cullity hard spike which hit a blocker and flew into the crowd. LIU called a time out though the hole was quite one to climb out of. TCU opened up with two quick points off a Hester kill, and a Long Island antenna contact, though Cullity did come up with a smash, but a serve out of bounds by the Blackbirds and a Megan Munce hit the middle gape brought the frogs within 1. Klikus struck again, but Edwards iced the set with her kill. TCU wins the set 25-14, TCU 1, LIU 0.
Set 2 was a bit more of an even affair, though TCU still pulled out a quick lead of 10-7. Edwards picked up two quick points off a tip over and then smacking an errant LIU pass down, an LIU error, a Munce rocket, an LIU lift, a Sunstrum kill following a good dig by Katelyn Blackwood, another Edwards kill into a gap, and a Edwards and Munce block, another point, and a Sunstrum kill made up the scoring. LIU picked up points mainly off a Simic kill, another a Klikus kill through the block, a Cullity kill, and another later on, as well as a TCU attack out of bounds, and a Simic kill that rebounded off a TCU player and outside the lines.
TCU pulled ahead to a 20-13 lead from that point. For the frogs, Edwards continued to put up points with a block, Irene Hester unleashed a missile, Munce hammered a spike, LIU attacked out of bounds, Hester found a gap and sent the ball into it, a pair LIU attacks out of play, a Kylie Pont attack, and two straight Edwards kills, accounted for the points. Long Island’s scoring came off a pair of TCU attacks sailing out of bounds, Racic kill, a TCU net violation, another Racic kill, and Dunja Milin’s fake set which she turned into a one handed put over.
LIU picked up three straight points off a Simic blast, a TCU attack out of bounds, and another LIU big kill. The run ended with an LIU net violation, but LIU snagged another point immediately following. A spike out of bounds put TCU close to the set win 22-17, and Irene Hester and Hester’s kills put the Frogs up 24-17. Klikus’s prevented the win, but her kill did not stop an error on the next play, ended the set 25-18. TCU 2, LIU 0.
Set 3 would be an absolute dogfight as both teams traded points back and forth with no clear advantage all the way to the 18-18 mark.
Long Island’s points mostly came from a TCU two contacts error, a four contact error on TCU after a great save by Racic, an Cullity tap, followed by a full kill on the next play, a TCU serve into the net, another Cullity kill, a Milin fake set in which she then backhanded a one hand kill across the net, Rice slashed a ball into a gap, TCU hit a ball out of bounds, Simic served an ace up, and later Rice picked up a kill, another TCU attack out of bounds followed, as did a lift error, Simic not surprisingly had a kill, and Rice and LIU7 shared a block, Simic came up with another major blast, and TCU hit a serve out of bounds.
TCU got to 18 through Edwards’s whap past the blockers, Edwards and Munce’s block, Munce’s shot in, a teammate’s kill, a block from Hester, and a block from her soon afterward following a great save by Blackwood, Edwards and Pont also came up with a block soon afterward, Edwards picked up another point, and Pont tipped the ball in, another point followed soon, and Munce delivered another smash, Edwards used a set to good effect with a slam, and an LIU serve out of bounds wasn’t far behind, Hester knocked a kill off the defenders, an LIU served into the net a few plays after, Pont had her own kill off the blockers to the floor, Sunstrum sent the ball through the blockers and it landed out of bounds, and another LIU error wrapped it up.
The tie was broken by three straight Horned Frogs points including Irene Hester and Munce kills. Klikus picked up a kill as well, and Racic followed her with a tap into a front line gap, but Irene Hester came up with a titanic smash, and another LIU error put the score at 23-20. Munce then serve up an ace and LIU called a time out one point away from losing set and match. Racic emerged from the play stoppage with a kill, but the next play TCU picked up the point and the win. 25-21.
TCU 3, LIU 0.