By: Kenny Bybee (email@example.com)
SHSU 3-Rice 2 (PDF)
HOUSTON – Despite double-doubles from junior setter Madison McDaniel and senior outside hitter Leah Mikesky, the Rice Owls volleyball team was unable to stave off a Sam Houston State comeback in a 3-2 loss (25-22, 20-25, 23-25, 25-14, 15-12) Saturday morning at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice (4-5) rallied after dropping the opening game to take a 2-1 set lead but the Bearkats (5-4) stormed back to take the final two frames. Sam Houston outhit the Owls .221 to 1.43 and totaled 109 digs with five players posting 10 or more digs. Junior outside hitter Brooke White led all players with 28 kills for the Bearkats.
McDaniel (39 assists, 16 digs) and Mikesky (16 kills, 20 digs) recorded double-doubles for a second straight match and freshman libero Lee Ann Cunningham posted a match-high 23 digs in the loss. Junior Shelby Livingstone also had a strong performance for the Owls with 14 kills and 8 digs. Mikesky will enter Saturday evening’s match versus No. 24 USC just 10 kills shy of 1,000 for her career.
Sam Houston used an 8-5 run to close the opening set which had five ties and four lead changes. However, the Owls answered back in a big way by holding the Bearkats to a -.019 hitting percentage in set two en route to a 25-20 victory. The Bearkats once held a 17-14 edge in the set but a couple kills from junior middle blocker Portia Okafor combined with several attack errors by the Bearkats helped the Owls prevail.
Rice carried over the momentum into set three and jumped out to a comfortable 14-6 lead. The Bearkats slowly chipped away at the lead and eventually knotted up the set at 22-22 before Rice closed out the 25-23 win.
From that moment on the tables turned towards the Bearkats favor, as they hit .333 in set four and forced a fifth and deciding set with a 25-14 victory. The Owls tried to fight back from a 7-3 fifth set deficit but Sam Houston prevailed with a 15-12 match-sealing win.
Rice will be back in action later this evening at 7 p.m. when they host No. 24 USC.