WACO, Texas - The Rice Owls volleyball team used a balanced offensive attack to claim their second sweep at the Baylor Classic with a three-set (25-18, 25-14, 25-18) triumph over the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks Saturday afternoon at the Ferrell Center.
As a team Rice (10-3) hit a sensational .347 (48-of-101), the second-best mark of the season for the Owls. The Owls had five players notch seven or more kills, led by nine kills apiece from Portia Okafor (.818), Leah Mikesky (.500) and Stephanie Mendivil (.368). Freshman setter Julianna Dole recorded 42 assists in the victory, the most by an Owl in a three-set match this season.
The Rice defense allowed a season-low in kills (24) and assists (22) and held the Ladyjacks to just a .114 team hitting percentage, the second-lowest mark of the season. Senior libero Kimberly Vaio led the Owls with 16 digs while Noelle Whitlock followed with 12 digs.
"I was very proud of how focused the team came out today," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "I thought we passed and defended well against a team who typically out-digs everyone they play. We had several attackers bring in good numbers and it helped provide for a balanced attack. We are now focused on getting some rest and getting ready for a very competitive match tonight against Baylor."
The Owls led from start to finish in the opening set, jumping out to a 5-0 lead and never looking back. Rice hit .310 for the game while holding SFA to a .040 clip. SFA actually took a 3-1 lead to start the second set by Rice quickly erased the deficit with a 9-2 run en route to the 25-14 win. In that second frame the Owls hit .483 as a team while posting a sideout percentage of 85%.
Rice never allowed SFA to gain any type of momentum in the third and final set, using a 13-1 run to put the match away and nail down the Owls sixth consecutive set victory, 25-18.
The Owls will try for their third tournament championship of the season tonight when they face host Baylor at 7 p.m. in the non-conference finale.