SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Looking for their sixth consecutive win, the Rice Owls volleyball squad went on the road and pushed the conference-leading and undefeated UTSA Roadrunners to the brink before falling in five sets, 3-2 (26-28, 25-14, 25-13, 19-25, 11-15).
Rice (16-6, 6-2) dropped their first game since Sept. 28 at Western Kentucky and saw their streak of 15 consecutive set victories come to an end with their 28-26 setback in set one to the Roadrunners (13-7, 9-0).
The Owls dominated the match statistically, outhitting UTSA .329-.225 and having fewer attack errors, 16-24. Rice also led in total kills (68-60), set assists (61-56), digs (65-62) and blocks (8.0-7.0).
"This is one of those matches where you look at the stat sheet and a loss doesn't compute," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "We played a great match after we settled down in set one. Then set four we broke down a little passing and it affected us a little too much. Then their best attacker really hurt us. We didn't have an answer for her and that made a big difference for UTSA."
Rice sophomore outside hitter Leah Mikesky tied a season-high with a team-best 18 kills and 15 digs for her team-leading 11th double-double of the year. Sophomore setter Sara Blasier also posted her ninth double-double of the season with a match-high 53 assists and 10 digs.
Chelsey Harris (15 kills), Andi Bawcum (14 kills) and Jillian Humphrey (11 kills) also had double-figure kills and Daniela Arenas had a team-best 18 digs. Freshman Portia Okafor posted a match-high four total blocks.
UTSA's Dajana Boskovic (22 kills) and Dempsey Thornton (20 kills) combined for 42 kills on the afternoon, becoming just the third and fourth opposition players to post 20 or more kills against Rice this season.
Rice dropped the opening set, 28-26, for their first loss since Oct. 1 at North Texas. However, the Owls responded with back-to-back convincing wins in the second (25-14) and third set (25-13). Rice hit .414 and .522, respectively, in the two sets while holding the Roadrunners to a negative hitting percentage in both sets.
In the fifth and decisive set there were a total of four ties and the Owls had held a 7-5 lead after back-to-back kills from Harris and Blasier. However, UTSA outscored Rice 10-4 the remainder of the set.
The Owls return home next weekend for the first time since Oct. 5 for a pair of matches, beginning with Middle Tennessee on Friday at 6 p.m., followed by UAB on Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I'm confident in this team," Volpe said. "We are too good to let this get to us. I know we will bounce back stronger than ever. We will be happy to be home next weekend."