Owls Comeback Falls Short at Western Kentucky
Sept. 28, 2014
BOWLING GREEN, KY – The Rice Owls volleyball nearly pulled off an incredible comeback Sunday afternoon, but fell just short of their first 0-2 comeback victory since 2010 with a 3-2 loss (13-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 16-18) to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
Rice (11-5, 1-1) was attempting to snap the Hilltoppers (14-4, 2-0) 15-match home winning streak, which dated back to last season. The Owls managed to rally and tie the match, 2-2, and had match point (16-15) in the fifth set, however, the Hilltoppers scored the next three points.
“We came out pretty flat and just didn’t produce,” Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. “Giving a team like WKU a two-set lead is not something anyone wants to do. In the third and fourth set we settled in and we that. It was a fun and competitive match, but it definitely hurts when you are not on the winning side.”
The Owls hit just .224 for the match while the Hilltoppers hit .307. Rice also had seven more attack errors than WKU, 27-20. Leah Mikesky and Jillian Humphrey led the Owls with 13 kills while Kimberly Vaio led the defense with 15 digs. Sara Blasier helped lead the offense with 50 assists.
After losing the first two sets by scores of 13-25 and 21-25, the Owls responded with a 25-20 victory of their own in the third set. Rice broke a 17-17 tie by outscoring the Hilltoppers 8-3, and hit a monster .552 for the set.
Rice dominated the fourth set, taking a 5-4 lead and never looking back, winning 25-21 to force the fifth and deciding set.
“I was proud of how the team stuck to the game plan, it was a battle and we never backed down,” Volpe said. “We now need to carry this over into next week. We will be tough to beat if we take this valuable match and learn from it. Jillian had a great match and played like a senior. Kyley Reed was key coming in and getting key kills at critical times. Sara played solid and led the team well.”
The Owls will complete their three-game road trip on Wednesday when they travel to Denton to face North Texas at 5:30 p.m.