WACO, Texas - After taking a 1-0 match lead, and leading for most of set two, the Rice Owls' volleyball squad saw the Baylor Bears storm back to take the finale of the Baylor Classic in four sets (25-16, 15-25, 24-26, 16-25) Saturday evening at the Ferrell Center.
Rice (10-4) was outhit for the match .353-.214 despite a match-high 18 kills from junior outside hitter Leah Mikesky, who was named to the All-Tournament Team along with senior libero Kimberly Vaio. Senior outside hitter Noelle Whitlock recorded a double-double in the loss with 10 kills and 14 digs. Freshman setter Julianna Dole poster her third consecutive 40-plus assists performance with 44 assists and seven digs.
"Baylor played well and attacked us from all areas of the net," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "We had opportunities to close out set three and Baylor kept pushing back. The third set loss drained us a bit and we didn't respond well in set four. I am proud of how hard we fought defensively. We made some strides there this weekend for sure."
Rice dominated the opening set on their way to a 25-16 victory. The Owls took advantage of five Baylor (10-2) attack errors and limited the Bears to a match-low .148 hitting percentage. In the second set Baylor flipped the script by leading nearly the entire frame en route to a 25-15 victory.
The Owls seemed on the verge of taking a 2-1 match lead by claiming a 23-21 advantage only for Baylor to outscore them the rest of the set 5-1. In the fourth and final set Rice led only once, 1-0, and allowed the Bears to hit .379 in a 25-16 loss.
Rice will now have a couple days off before beginning C-USA play on Tuesday when they host the UTSA Roadrunners at 6 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Baylor Classic All-Tournament Team
Best Setter: Amy Rosenbaum, Baylor University
Best Libero: Kimberly Vaio, Rice University
Best Blocker: Andie Malloy, Baylor University
Best Attacker: Leah Mikesky, Rice University
Tournament MVP: Katie Staiger, Baylor University