HOUSTON - Noelle Whitlock notched her third double-double of the season and Julianna Dole dished out 44 assists to help guide the Rice Owls' volleyball team to a 3-0 sweep over Florida Atlantic Sunday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.
"That was a tough match just like I expected," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "FAU is a very solid team and they challenged us with their backrow attacks and their outsides played phenomenal. It was an offensive battle to say the least. We were very fortunate to come out of there with a 3-0 win. We were a very confident team today though, and showed a lot of mental toughness and confidence."
Rice (12-4, 2-0) remained a perfect 6-0 at home by holding off a feisty FAU (9-6, 1-2) squad in a match that saw 34 ties and 16 lead changes. Whitlock was joined by Leah Mikesky (13 kills) and Chelsey Harris (13 kills) in double-figure kills and Portia Okafor led all players with six blocks. Sophomore Shelby Livingstone joined Whitlock in double-figure digs with 10.
Rice edged FAU in team hitting percentage, .303-.301 and was able to sideout at a 65 percent clip while FAU was just 59 percent.
FAU was led offensively by Maja Ristic, who finished with a match-high 17 kills, while Kristina Rankovic chipped in 13 kills on 26 attacks (.500).
After playing to 10 ties in the opening set, Rice used a 5-1 run to break a 19-19 set and earn a 25-20 victory. Mikesky and Harris combined for 11 kills in the frame while the Owls hit .444 as a team.
In set two, Rice rallied from a 20-17 deficit by outscoring FAU 9-4 down the stretch led by three consecutive kills from Whitlock to seal a 26-24 win.
FAU held match point in the third set, leading 24-23, but a kill from Whitlock kept the set alive and Rice followed with a block and kill by Mikesky to earn the 26-24 win.
The Owls now begin a stretch where they will play six of their next eight matches on the road, including two next weekend at North Texas (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Charlotte (Sunday, 12 p.m.).