NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A day after losing in four sets to UC-Santa Barbara, the Rice Owls volleyball team returned the favor by defeating the Rhode Island Rams in four sets (25-22, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19) in the first match of a doubleheader at the Yale Invitational Saturday morning.
"Today was a solid team effort," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "Madison McDaniel had probably her best performance overall this year. She ran a solid offense, played great defense and blocked well. I also wanted to see some different looks today with our lineup and everyone was ready to go. It was another battle and I'm proud of our fight."
Rice (4-2) limited Rhode Island (2-3) to just a .128 hitting percentage compared to a .238 clip for the Owls. The Owls had a balanced offensive attack with six players recording six or more kills, led by freshman middle blocker Kyle McKay's 10 kills (.533).
Sophomore middle blocker Portia Okafor came up just shy of recording her first double-double of the season, registering nine kills and nine blocks for a team-high 14.5 points. McDaniel notched her second double-double of the weekend and fourth of the season with 39 assists and 13 digs. Sophomore Shelby Livingstone and senior Noelle Whitlock each chipped in 11 digs in the victory.
Rice hit a match-high .394 (17-of-33) in the opening set and after 14 ties and five lead changes took the lead for good on a kill from Chelsey Harris to break an 18-18 tie. The Owls outscored the Rams 6-4 down the stretch to secure a 25-22 victory.
A .073 hitting percentage by the Owls in the second set proved too much to overcome and the Rams took advantage of 12 Rice attack errors en route to a 25-21 win.
In the third set the Rice defense posted a season-best opponent's hitting percentage of -.050 (11-of-40) and 13 attacking errors. The Owls never trailed after taking a 2-1 lead and opened up an advantage as large as 13-7. That momentum carried over into the final where Rice had a day's-best sideout percentage of 84 percent ((16-of-19). The Owls outscored the Rams 14-9 to close out a 25-19 triumph and secure the match victory.
The Owls have one more match remaining today when they face host Yale at 6 p.m. (CT).