HOUSTON, Texas - The Rice Owls volleyball team delivered quite the statement Friday evening, recording an impressive 3-0 (25-21, 26-24, 25-19) sweep of the UC Davis Aggies in the 2014 season opener in the nightcap of the Rice Invitational I at Tudor Fieldhouse.
"We really had a well-balanced team effort tonight in all aspects," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "We obviously didn't hit the ball particularly well but we still took advantage of the opportunities given to us. It feels good to get that first one in the win column."
Rice (1-0) has won six of its last seven home openers, the last three of which have been 3-0 shutouts. UC Davis (0-1) was held to just .086 hitting by the Owls, while Rice hit .171 for the match.
Sophomore Chelsey Harris led the Owls with 11 kills while fellow sophomore Sara Blasier racked up 34 assists, just four off her career-high in a three set match. Senior Daniela Arenas led all players with 17 digs.
Rice won the first set 25-21, taking advantage of nine Aggie attack errors. The two teams played to 16 ties in set two before Rice scored four of the final five points to go up 2-0. The Owls got a big boost late in set two from freshman outside hitter Shelby Livingstone. The Malibu, Calif. native recorded two of Rice's final three kills, including the game-winner to give the Owls a 26-24 victory and a demanding 2-0 match lead.
"Our coaching staff was extremely proud how we handled a little bit of adversity towards the end of that second set," Volpe said. "Those were moments last year where we sometimes struggled but tonight we showed great resolve."
In the third set Rice never trailed and had their highest hitting percentage (.206) of the evening, converting on a night's best 80 percent (16-of-20) of their sideouts.
Rice will return to Tudor Fieldhouse tomorrow on day two of the Rice Invitational to first face the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns at 11 a.m., followed by Fresno State at 7:30 p.m.