HOUSTON - After dropping the opening set 28-26, the Rice Owls volleyball responded with three consecutive victories (25-19, 25-17 and 25-16) over the Lamar Cardinals to improve to 3-1 on the season and win their home opener at Tudor Fieldhouse Tuesday evening.
The Owls outhit Lamar (3-1) .379-.152 for the match and outgained the Cardinals 63-46 in total kills. Rice took advantage of 20 Lamar attacking errors and 15 service errors in the victory.
Rice junior outside hitter Leah Mikesky earned her team-leading third double-double of the season with a match-high 17 kills (.325) along with 10 digs. Sophomore setter Madison McDaniel picked up her second double-double as an Owl, dishing out 51 assists (her third straight 50-plus assist performance) and 12 digs. The Owls got a big boost from freshman middle blocker McKay Kyle, picking up a season-best 12 kills (.429) and a match-high six blocks. Senior libero Kimberly Vaio posted a team-best 13 digs.
Rice hit just .196 in the opening set and dug themselves a 13-6 hole they were never able to get out of. The Owls rallied on several occasions to tie the set late but Lamar eventually recorded a 28-26 victory following a service error and a kill by Chelsea Grant (team-best 12 kills).
Lamar played the Owls close for most of the second set until Rice used a 10-5 run to pull away from a slim 15-14 lead. With the Owls leading 20-18, Kyle took the set in her own hands with a solo block and three kills to knot the match going into intermission.
Rice had their best offensive set of the match coming out of the break, hitting .375 and never trailed throughout. The Owls broke open a 10-8 lead with a 10-3 run, increasing their lead to 20-11 with McDaniel registering four assists in the process.
In the fourth and final set it was Mikesky that helped put the finishing touch on the Owls third consecutive victory, picking up seven of her 17 kills en route to a 25-16 match-sealing win.
The Owls will next embark on a weekend tournament in New Haven, Connecticut facing UC-Santa Barbara (Friday), Rhode Island (Saturday) and Yale (Saturday). Rice will return home Sept. 11-12 when they host Louisiana-Lafayette, Sam Houston State and Colorado in the Rice Adidas Invitational I.