By Kenny Bybee (email@example.com)
AUSTIN, Texas – With their backs to the wall down 0-2, the Rice Owls volleyball team rallied to defeat the LSU Tigers (receiving votes) 24-26, 21-25, 25-17, 25-16, 15-10 Saturday morning at Gregory Gym on day two of the American Campus Classic.
Rice (1-1) secured their first victory of the 2015 season thanks in part to the performances of Chelsey Harris, Leah Mikesky and Madison McDaniel, all of whom registered double-doubles.
“I’m very proud of the comeback,” Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. “We made some great changes mentally coming out of the locker room after the second set. I’m most pleased with that. Chelsey and Leah turned it on and took big swings when it counted. Madison’s defense was key and Stephanie Mendivil came in and really helped provide a spark.”
McDaniel, The Woodlands native and transfer from Arizona State, compiled a match-high 50 assists and 22 digs. She was one of five Owls that registered 10 or more digs and Rice outgained the Tigers 90-74 in that department. Harris led all players with 19 kills and chipped in 10 digs while Mikesky notched her 17th double-double of her Rice career with 14 kills and 12 digs. Other standout performances included Kimberly Vaio (21 digs), Noelle Whitlock (12 digs), Mendivil (eight kills), and Portia Okafor (seven kills, four blocks).
After falling behind 0-2, Rice came out on fire in the third set and led from start to finish, hitting a staggering .556 en route to a 25-17 victory. Both Mendivil and Okafor had four kills apiece in the frame to extend the match.
In set four Rice fell behind 10-5 but slowly crept back into the set and eventually took a 17-16 on a kill from Harris. That point would be prove to be the start of a 9-0 Owls run, resulting in a 25-16 Rice victory and the fifth and deciding set to come.
The Owls fell behind 3-1 in the early stages of the fifth set but battled back as they had all morning long. Back to back attack errors by the Tigers gave Rice a 7-5 advantage and the Owls closed on an 8-5 run, capped off by a Mendivil kill to give the Owls the set and the match.
Rice returns to Gregory Gym this evening to face the UC Irvine Anteaters (1-1) at 5 p.m. That match will be televised on the Longhorn Network and the WatchESPN app.