Sept. 23, 2011
Houston - The Rice Owls volleyball team won its first Conference USA match of the season with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Tulane Green Wave in Tudor Fieldhouse.
Set scores were 25-22, 25-19, 24-26, and 25-22. The victory gives the Owls a 6-7 overall slate and a 1-1 mark in C-USA play. Tulane is now 5-7 and 0-1 in league action.
"I was proud of the team stepping up when things got a little bit tough," commented Owl head coach Genny Volpe. "Early in the season when things got bad it would get us down, and tonight I saw determination to settle down and go back to the game plan. I was most pleased with the response of the team when Tulane started to distress us and our response was much stronger and better than on Tuesday vs. Houston."
The Owls also showed more tenacity than they did on Tuesday.
"Tonight we stayed in the play longer," surmised Volpe. "We made more scrappy plays with more coverage. We put a lot of emphasis that we've just got to stay in the play as long as possible and never give up, never quit on the ball, and that made a big difference this evening. There were a few times where the ball fell on their side and not on ours and our players fought a little bit harder and it came into play with a win."
Three Owls were in double-digits for kills. Sophomore Mariah Riddlesprigger had match-high 14 kills to go with 13 digs. Junior Nancy Cole followed closely with 13 kills and match-high .370 hitting percentage, while freshman Lizzy Bache added 11 kills.
Setter Megan Murphy registered a match-high 46 assists with 7 digs and 7 kills, while Megan White's 16 digs led the Owl defense. Rice on the evening totaled 58 kills and a .194 hitting percentage to Tulane's 50 kills and .113 hitting percentage.
The Green Wave was led by Izabela Grot's 13 kills and .290 hitting percentage.
Owls Take Set One
Rice scored the first two points of the set and never trailed in winning 25-22. Riddlesprigger led the Owls with a set-high 7 kills and .417 hitting percentage, as Rice hit for 17 kills and a .297 hitting percentage.
Tulane mustered 14 kills and a .184 hitting percentage. Azarri Badawai and Izabela Grot paced the Green Wave attack with 4 kills each.
Rice Goes Up 2-0
The Green Wave surged to an early 7-2 lead, but the Owls proceeded to outscore Tulane 15 to 7 for a 17-14 lead. Rice then pounded the Green Wave 8 to 5 to close out the set 25-19.
Tulane Wins Set Three
In a very close set with both teams trading points, it was Tulane that secured the final two points to prevail 26-24. Rice had its chances when it was up 24-23, but the Green Wave persevered to grab the final three points.
The Green Wave posted 19 kills (.170) to Rice's 12 kills (.195). Tulane's Badawi led all hitters with 5 kills. Tulane also had 19 digs to the Owsl' 11.
With Rice up 6-4, the Owls distanced themselves from Tulane by outscoring the Green Wave 8 to 2 for a 14-6 margin. Following a Tulane timeout, the Green Wave scored the next four points, cutting the deficit to four. From that point on, Tulane could not get any closer than two points as the Owls were victorious 25-22.
Even though the Owls only hit .077 with 14 kills, it was still better than Tulane's .026 with 9 kills. Rice setter Megan Murphy had 4 timely kills late in the set to lead the Owl attack. Grot had 4 of Tulane's 9 kills.
Rice is in action on Sunday when it hosts Southern Miss (6-7, 0-1) at 2 p.m. The Golden Eagles lost 3-2 to Houston (9-3, 2-0) on Friday.
Says Volpe on Sunday's match up. "Southern Miss is a feisty veteran team that have several players that were on the Conference USA championship team (regular season) two years ago. They know how to win and they know how to play defense and we're expecting a great match with a team that is both aggressive offensively and defensively."