By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rice 3-Marshall 0 (PDF Box Score)
HOUSTON - The Rice Owls volleyball team bounced back from a tough loss on Tuesday with a 3-0 sweep (25-18, 25-23, 25-18) over the Marshall Thundering Herd Friday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice (13-8, 5-1) posted their second-highest team hitting percentage (.346) during the Conference USA season and had three players record 10 or more kills, led by Leah Mikesky's match-high 12 kills (.281). Senior right side hitter Chelsey Harris added an additional 10 kills (.474) while middle blockers Portia Okafor (10 kills, .471) and McKay Kyle (8 kills, .583) combined for a powerful attack at the net.
Junior setter Madison McDaniel continued her setting wizardry this season with 40 assists in just three sets, a new three-set season best mark.
Defensively the Owls limited Marshall (15-6, 4-2) to a .182 hitting percentage while five different Owls had six or more digs. At night's end the Owls claimed stake to second place outright in the C-USA standings.
"The team was very well prepared and came out really sharp," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "We talked about having a strong start and not letting them (Marshall) get any momentum or easy points and I think our team did a really good job of that. We had more of a determination to pass the ball to Madison to allow her to use all options. I was just really pleased with the mentality to put the match away."
The Owls came out on fire in the opening set by hitting .357 and never trailed after taking a 5-4 lead. Mikesky posted five kills in the first set alone while Marshall hit just .188 as a team in Rice's 25-18 win.
In set two Marshall looked poised to even the match by grabbing a 17-15 advantage. However, Rice used a late rally to take a demanding 2-0 match lead with a 25-23 win. That momentum carried into a third set in which the Owls never trailed and the Herd hit only .045 in a 25-18 match-sealing victory.
Rice will next host the UAB Blazers (9-13, 2-5) on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse.