Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 3-Rice 1 (PDF Box score)
DALLAS – The Rice Owls volleyball team fell in four sets (18-25, 25-10, 15-25, 21-25) in their season-opening match Friday afternoon versus the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders in the first game of the SMU Doubletree Invitational.
Rice (0-1) had three players record 10 or more kills, including a match-high 14 from freshman outside hitter Nicole Lennon in her collegiate debut. The Katy, Texas native led all players with 57 attacks and came up just shy of a double-double by recording nine digs.
Sophomore middle blocker Grace Morgan and junior middle blocker McKay Kyle chipped in 10 kills apiece while senior setter Madison McDaniel led all players with 37 assists and chipped in nine digs. Sophomore libero Lee Ann Cunningham posted a match-high 24 digs while junior Julianna Dole added an additional 13 digs. Senior middle blocker Portia Okafor moved into ninth place (355 blocks) on the Rice all-time blocks list with three more on Friday.
Neither the Owls nor Islanders (1-0) were particularly sharp on the offensive end with A&M-Corpus Christi edging Rice in hitting percentage, .182-.179. The two teams tied with 73 digs apiece and each had 20 attack errors.
The Owls hit a match-low .051 in the opening frame en route to a 25-18 loss but responded in a big
way in set two, capitalizing with a .522 hitting percentage (14-of-23) while holding the Islanders to -.067. Lennon posted five kills in the second set alone while Morgan and Kyle had four apiece. Cunningham also had a big second frame defensively with 10 digs as the Owls cruised to a 25-10 triumph.
However, the Islanders retook control of the match out of the break and trailed just twice in the third and fourth sets combined, winning 25-15 and 25-21 to clinch the season opener.
Rice will look to get into the win column for the first time in 2017 later this evening when they face host SMU at 7 p.m. from Moody Coliseum.