MURFREESBORO, TN - The Rice Owls volleyball team ran their win streak to three consecutive games with a straight-sets sweep (25-20, 25-21, 25-19) of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Friday evening at Alumni Memorial Gym.
Rice (16-7, 7-3) avenged a loss to the Blue Raiders (5-19, 3-7) earlier in the month when Middle Tennessee upset the Owls in five sets at Tudor Fieldhouse on Oct. 11.
The Owls earned their seventh sweep of the year by holding Middle Tennessee to a .098 hitting percentage, the third-lowest percentage by an Owls' opponent this season. The Owls also committed 11 fewer attack errors (15-26) and had four players post six or more kills, led by 11 from junior outside hitter Leah Mikesky.
Sophomore Madison McDaniel tied Mikesky for the team lead with her 12th double-double of the year, accumulating 34 assists and 14 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Portia Okafor tacked on seven kills on 13 attacks (.385) and had a match-high six blocks.
"I'm very pleased with winning this match in three sets," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "Playing three matches in one week is tough so the fact that we could get this win in an efficient manner was key. There were some really long rallies and Middle Tennessee made some great defensive plays that made us work really hard for our points. I think the big difference was that we had such a balanced attack and Portia had one of her best matches from a defensive and offensive standpoint, so that was really nice to see her step up."
The Owls held off a mid-set rally by the Blue Raiders in the opening frame, breaking a 16-16 tie by outscoring Middle Tennessee 9-4 the rest of the way for the 25-20 win. Rice hit a match-best .355 for the set with McDaniel recording 14 assists.
In set two the Owls led from start to finish en route to the 25-21 win, limiting Middle Tennessee to a match-low .048 hitting percentage. Rice completed the sweep by leading the Blue Raiders nearly the entire third set before closing it out 25-19.
Rice will play their third match this week on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Louisiana Tech (7-15, 1-8).