By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rice 3-Utah Valley 0 (PDF)
PROVO, UT – Just two hours after suffering a draining five-set loss to nationally ranked BYU, the Rice Owls volleyball team responded Saturday with a convincing 3-0 sweep (25-18, 25-22, 25-17) of the Utah Valley Wolverines for their first win of 2016.
Rice (1-2) limited Utah Valley (0-3) to just a .086 hitting percentage and were the benefactor of 28 attack errors from the Wolverines. The Owls also posted their third straight, 10-plus team blocks performance, 7 of which came from junior middle blocker Portia Okafor.
“We are definitely pleased with our response to the heartbreaking loss this morning,” said Rice head coach Genny Volpe. “The BYU match took a lot out of the team. They wanted that win so badly and gave everything they had. To bounce back with only a two hour break in between matches and pull off a 3-0 sweep says a lot about our resiliency.”
The Owls hit .287 as a team with a sideout percentage of 66 percent, their best clip of the weekend.
Senior outside hitters Chelsey Harris and Leah Mikesky (BYU Invitational All-Tournament Team) led Rice with 10 kills apiece while junior setter Madison McDaniel dished out 35 assists. Freshman libero Lee Ann Cunningham led all players with 15 digs.
After Utah Valley scored the initial point in the opening set the Owls scored the next two points and never trailed again. Despite the Wolverines closing the deficit to 17-15, Rice responded with an 8-2 run to win 25-18.
The Rice offense improved to a .286 clip in set two and the Owls broke a 12-12 to secure a 25-22 win going into the intermission. The Owls then hit .304 in the final set and outscored Utah Valley 16-8 down the stretch en route to a match-clinching 25-17 win.
After a 1-2 stint at the BYU Invitational the Owls return to Houston for their home opener on Tuesday at 6 p.m. versus Houston Baptist.
BYU Invitational All-Tournament Team
Cal Poly-Adlee Van Winden
Cal Poly-Taylor Nelson
BYU-McKenna Miller (MVP)