By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rice 3-Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 1 (PDF)
HOUSTON – The Rice Owls volleyball team won for the second time in as many days with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-15, 29-27) triumph over the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders Saturday afternoon on the second day of the Rice Adidas Invitational II at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice (6-7) crept close to the .500 mark by limiting the Islanders (5-5) to a .153 hitting percentage and recording a season-high eight service aces. In total the two teams played to 34 ties and exchanged leads on 19 occasions.
Rice Junior setter Madison McDaniel achieved her team-best ninth double-double of the season with 40 assists and a team-high 19 digs. Seniors Leah Mikesky (12 kills) and Chelsey Harris (10 kills) each led the Owls offensively while junior Portia Okafor and sophomore McKay Kyle added an additional nine kills.
Defensively the Owls posted 12.0 blocks, marking the seventh time this season Rice recorded 10 or more kills. In addition to McDaniel’s 19 digs, freshman libero Lee Ann Cunningham added another 18 digs and matched or surpassed that plateau for the sixth time this season.
“I thought this was a very hard-earned win for our team,” Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. “We’re still working through some things but the grit is there. I definitely wanted to see a sharper performance at a more consistent level but the fight and composure continues to impress me with this group.”
In what turned out to be a see-saw affair, it was the Islanders who turned the tables initially by using a 12-2 run to eliminate a once 16-12 Rice lead en route to a 25-21 victory. Rice hit a match-low .067 in the set and had a match-high eight errors.
However, Rice responded midway through the second set with a 9-4 spurt that catapulted the Owls into a 24-20 lead and eventually a 25-22 match-tying victory. That momentum was carried over into set three where the Owls limited the Islanders to a .000 hitting percentage and turned a once 7-5 Islander lead into a 18-9 advantage of their own.
After Rice took an 18-13 lead in the fourth set, the Islanders bounced back to take a 26-25 advantage late but the Owls held serve on match point and eventually put the game away following a kill from Harris and an attacking error on the Islanders.
The Owls will look for their third straight win later tonight when they host the Houston Cougars from Tudor Fieldhouse at 7:30 p.m.