DENTON, Texas - Rice freshman middle blocker McKay Kyle set a career-high with 18 kills and freshman setter Julianna Dole established a career-high with 69 assists, however it wasn't enough to overcome a late rally by the North Texas Mean Green in a five-set loss (25-23, 28-30, 19-25, 25-14, 12-15) Friday evening at the North Texas Volleyball Center.
"That one definitely got away from us," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "We did some great things but proved to be inconsistent at critical times. To battle back from a 2-1 deficit in a hostile environment was admirable but I felt like we shouldn't have put ourselves in that position to begin with. We will need to regroup quickly. Our response is key now. That's what we need to focus on."
The Owls (12-5, 2-1) were in prime position to take the 5th set, leading 12-8, but the Mean Green (11-8, 3-1) stormed back with a 7-0 run to take the match. Rice entered play on Friday a perfect 3-0 in five sets.
Rice was outhit for the match, .316-.282, and had eight more attack errors (24-16) than the Mean Green. Noelle Whitlock (16 kills, 16 digs) and Leah Mikesky (16 kills, 12 digs) each posted double-doubles and Kimberly Vaio had a team-high 19 digs.
North Texas was led offensively by the C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Carnae Dillard, who registered a match-high 31 kills (.310) and collected a match-high 20 digs.
After taking the opening set 25-23, the Owls played North Texas to a back-and-forth second frame, one that the Mean Green ultimately won 30-28.
The Mean Green came out of intermission and took a 2-1 match lead with a 25-19 victory, hitting .333 for the set. However, Rice came back with their best offensive set of the night in the fourth frame, hitting .462 (13-of-26) en route to a 25-14 win.
In the fifth and final set the Mean Green caught fire late and ended up hitting .615 for the set.
Rice's road trip will continue this weekend when they travel to Charlotte on Sunday to take on the 49ers at 12 p.m. (CT).