All of it belies his previous as a soccer participant at Austin Faculty.
Though there have been a time or two when Williams lets his soccer facet come out. Simply ask Audrey Nalls. In 2022, Williams’ first season at TCU after a longtime stint as an assistasnt at Baylor, Nalls went from underachieving to overwhelming, as evidenced by her first-team All-Large 12 choice.
“He didn’t attempt to change a complete lot of my model of play,” stated Nalls, a fifth-year outdoors hitter from Waxahachie, Texas. “For him and me — and for the entire staff — it was extra like, when you’re a hitter, you might be hitting excessive, and also you’re breaking fingers.”
Williams confirmed the story.
“I put her on a no tip or roll rule,” he stated. “I used to be like, ‘Audrey, you’ve a cannon. Why would you employ a BB gun? Cease doing all this tip and roll crap and simply crush balls and break fingers.’ ”
That easy, direct method to the sport helped TCU make one of the crucial exceptional turnarounds in Division I in 2022. After going 2-14 in Large 12 play in 2021, the Horned Frogs went a program-best 11-5 final season — 17-11 total — and made it to the NCAA Event for the primary time since 2016. They upset Washington earlier than shedding within the second spherical to Wisconsin.
It must be famous that Williams didn’t dangle up his helmet and magically remodel right into a volleyball mastermind. After two years of soccer at Austin, he performed seaside volleyball, serving largely as a setter. He additionally married a setter, the previous Cory Sivertson, the primary volleyball participant inducted into Baylor’s athletic corridor of fame. Not coincidentally, their daughter, Callie, performed at Baylor and after transferring to TCU additionally made the Large 12 first-team final yr,
From there he labored his means via the membership and junior ranks earlier than touchdown as an assistant at Baylor. He was with the Bears from 2015-22 then was able to tackle the problem of getting his personal program.
Earlier than Williams’ arrival, TCU had six consecutive seasons of sub-.500 volleyball within the Large 12. Curiosity throughout campus had waned, and this system gave the impression to be caught in impartial.
So what led to the abrupt turnaround, the most important by any Energy 5 staff final season? Williams attributed it, partly, to being an older first-time coach. He had been across the block and had seen Baylor obtain quantity of success in his time on the sidelines there.
He additionally credited his assistants, together with Kyle Luongo, he held over from the earlier teaching workers.
“I’ve a rockstar workers,” Williams stated. “They’re throughout the identical age, mid-30s, they usually’ve all been within the recreation a very long time. That’s probably the greatest items of recommendation I ever acquired: Rent individuals smarter than your self, and also you’ll be OK.”
Williams stated he additionally tried to maintain issues easy. To make certain, he set sure requirements he anticipated to be met. In any other case, he didn’t attempt to pile an excessive amount of on his gamers.
The ultimate piece of the puzzle was Callie. A setter – shock, shock – Callie Williams completed at TCU for her last season underneath her father’s watch. She amassed greater than 1,000 assists (9.29 per match).
“It was undoubtedly an enormous turnaround,” stated Nalls, who had 424 kills final season (3.85 per set). “Jason coming and bringing his daughter alongside … we wished a brand new pleasure for volleyball. We wished to like the sport once more.
“It’s actually a number of the boldness as effectively. Loads of us ladies who had been right here, we type of misplaced confidence. We go 0-14 — or no matter it was — and it’s simply a right away change the subsequent yr. So it was gaining again the belief and the boldness.”
The turnaround wasn’t instantaneous. Williams stated it was eight to 9 months earlier than his gamers absolutely understood his system and his expectations. The brand new, aggressive model took some getting used to as effectively. Williams stated the staff misplaced some video games early as a result of he “wouldn’t allow them to get into these pillow fights that I name it. Be aggressive as a result of it’s going to pan out down the street.”
The proverbial mild bulb got here on throughout a late-September match in opposition to Baylor in Waco.
After the Bears cruised to a 25-13 win within the first set, TCU battled again to pressure extra time within the second set earlier than falling 29-27. The Frogs then earned a breezy 25-15 victory within the third set.
And although Baylor ended up successful in 4, Williams stated he might sense one thing was occurring. His instinct was confirmed three days later when his staff earned a 24-26, 25-16, 25-19, 25-18 win over Iowa State.
The senior class hadn’t overwhelmed the Cyclones earlier than.
“Loads of gamers have been like, ‘We’re not that removed from Baylor,’ ” Williams stated. “The final couple of years, they thought beating Baylor was actually unattainable.
“After which we beat Iowa State at residence the subsequent recreation, and I believe at that time, everyone thought, ‘OK, we are able to truly win some video games within the convention this yr.’ ”
Added Nalls: “He noticed potential in us and wished to convey out the very best in us and make it enjoyable. … We simply actually trusted what he was going to do for us, and he simply introduced out the enjoyable facet of volleyball for us.”
After all, now the query turns into: What do the Horned Frogs do for an encore?
Out of the blue this system has expectations. Out of the blue there’s a little bit of a buzz round campus, as evidenced by the report common attendance for residence matches final season (1,642).
“To me, you’ve started working two occasions tougher than you probably did final yr to type of even get again to the place you have been final yr,” Nalls stated. “… You in all probability must put somewhat extra in than you probably did final yr simply to type of keep as much as tempo with your self.”
The return of Nalls, who performed membership volleyball with Texas proper facet Molly Phillips and Kentucky center Azhani Tealer, can be an enormous raise. Williams stated he performed “Jedi thoughts tips” with Nalls final season to instill in her the idea that she could possibly be an All-Large 12 participant. On the finish of all of it, he stated, she in all probability was disenchanted she didn’t make All-American.
“This can be in all probability her last season,” Williams stated. “I don’t suppose she needs to play past this. She needs to be an All-American. She needs to take the staff to a spot it’s by no means been.
“Final yr was superior, however this yr goes to be twice as onerous for the staff to get the place we have been final yr. She’s acquired to be somewhat smarter together with her selections, and groups are going to recreation plan for her.”
Nalls spearheads a lineup that Williams calls “pin heavy.” Julia Adams, a 6-foot-3 grad outdoors from Plano, Texas, averaged greater than three kills per set final season. Sophomore outdoors hitter Jalyn Gibson could possibly be poised for a breakout yr after averaging almost two kills per set final season.
“She has simply been a rock star within the spring and in the summertime,” Nalls stated of Gibson. “I actually really feel prefer it’s her time to let it shine somewhat bit.”
TCU will get a giant raise from the arrival of Melanie Parra. A 5-11 junior from Mexico, Parra, a six-rotation participant, received a nationwide championship with Texas final season. She is a serving murderer who couldn’t crack the robust Texas lineup, however most observers agree she could possibly be particular with enjoying time.
The skinny however high-jumping Parra, who performs outdoors hitter for the Mexican nationwide staff, appeared in solely 45 units for the Longhorns final season and stated she was in search of a greater alternative to play.
Although she nonetheless has some challenges with speaking in English, she is fluent in volleyball.
“She has an elite serve,” Williams stated. “She is an incredible volleyball participant, and she or he is aware of learn how to rating. Final yr, Audrey was our excessive scorer (470.5 factors), however now Melanie goes to attract some consideration, which, I hope, frees up Audrey to be actually, actually good the place groups can’t give attention to her.”
Added Nalls: “Melanie has been simply superior to be round, simply studying from her. … The volleyball, it’s simply so pure for her, and simply to have that picture within the gymnasium that we are able to type of all choose off of, that’s going to be an enormous deal for us to even be taught from her.”
Mentioned Parra: “It was tough (at Texas) as a result of I didn’t play an excessive amount of, however I’m so comfortable to win a championship. I play (on the nationwide staff) versus individuals who play professional. They’re 30 years outdated … actually outdated for me. So possibly that helps me extra to have a very good recreation right here at TCU.”
Serving to to shore up the center for the Horned Frogs can be Bri Inexperienced, a switch from Denver who was an All-Summit League performer. One other switch, 6-1 Riley Buckley from Missouri, will take over the setting duties.
Buckley began all 28 matches for the Tigers as a freshman final season and had the third most whole assists (958) of any freshman in a Energy 5 convention.
The defensive specialist/libero battle in preseason additionally can be key. California freshmen Meg Walsh and Jaylen Clark are, in Williams’ phrases, “elite in serve obtain.” Junior Cecily Bramschreiber, who noticed restricted motion final season due to a foot harm, additionally can be within the combine for the protection.
Although there are many transferring components that want to come back collectively, Williams stated he already can see a distinction within the staff from final season.
“Within the 2019 yr (at Baylor), once we went to the ultimate 4 … that summer season was the primary time the staff truly took summer season severely. I might say, final yr, I attempted to warn them (TCU) they didn’t take summer season as severely as I wished, however the season nonetheless labored out.
“This summer season, they’ve taken it severe. … I used to be capable of stroll via the gymnasium and see what they have been doing, and I used to be actually impressed with the upperclassmen actually making an attempt to carry to the usual, and the extent of participation gave the impression to be enthusiastic from what I noticed.”
Williams will discover out immediately the place his staff stands as, for the second consecutive season, the Horned Frogs will open the common season with Friday in opposition to No. 7 preseason Minnesota after which No. 2 Wisconsin the subsequent day. Each Large Ten golf equipment swept TCU final season.
However there’s wager the Horned Frogs received’t shrink back from the competitors. Fingers on the opposite facet of the web may not be secure.
Easy and direct. That’s the best way TCU will play. Simply the best way Williams coaches them.
“Clearly, we need to do effectively within the convention,” Nalls stated. “We need to make the NCAA Event, however we need to go additional than the second spherical. I believe that’s all the time the objective. We acquired somewhat style of it final yr. What can we actually do with it this yr now that we’ll have a full yr of coaching and expertise?”
Mentioned Parra: “We are able to attempt to win the championship. It will likely be tough, however we’ve got a very good staff, so we are able to do it.”