By: Kenny Bybee (email@example.com)
Cal Poly 3-Rice 1 (PDF)
PROVO, UT – The Rice Owls volleyball fell in four sets (21-25, 25-21, 22-25, 17-25) to the Cal Poly Mustangs in Friday’s season opener in the first of three matches at this weekend’s BYU Invitational.
Cal Poly (1-0) outhit Rice (0-1) .228-.196 and had a 70-52 advantage in total digs. The Owls did manage to post 15.0 team blocks, six of which came from true freshman middle blocker Grace Morgan making her first collegiate start.
In the opening set Rice senior right side hitter Chelsey Harris came out on fire with 7 kills on 12 attacks (.417) but the Mustangs led from start to finish to take the frame 25-21. Rice stormed back in the second set and used an 11-4 run to open up a 17-12 lead which they never relinquished en route to a 25-21 victory.
The Owls rallied from a 17-12 third set deficit to pull even at 22-22 but the Mustangs scored the game’s final three points on consecutive kills to take a 2-1 match lead. Cal Poly closed out the match with a 25-17 win in set four and led throughout.
“We knew this first match was going to be a challenge,” Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. “Cal Poly is a very solid team that was consistent and smart. They really made us work hard to score and that was the difference today. Overall I thought our blocking was our best attribute. We had some very promising points in the match and our team energy was awesome from start to finish. That’s something we will continue to do well. We’ll scout BYU next and look forward to getting back on the court tomorrow.”
Rice junior setter Madison McDaniel achieved the Owls’ first double-double of the season with 38 assists and a team-high 19 digs. The Owls had three players with 10 or more kills, led by a team-best 13 from senior Harris. Senior outside hitter Leah Mikesky posted 11 kills while junior Shelby Livingstone added 10 kills, one shy of her career-high.
Four Mustangs recorded 10 or more kills led by a match-high 19 Adlee Van Winden, who also posted 14 digs for a double-double.
The Owls will next face nationally ranked No. 13 BYU on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (CT) in a match that will be televised on BYUtv. Rice will then conclude their weekend at the BYU Invitational with a 6 p.m. (CT) match versus Utah Valley.