Owls Sweep Season-Series From Blue Raiders
Oct. 24, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas - Rice junior Andi Bawcum recorded a career-high 22 kills and freshman setter Katie Steel posted a career-best 56 assists to help lead the Owls volleyball team to a 3-1 (25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 25-21) victory over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Friday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice (17-6, 7-2) won their fourth consecutive home match and defeated the Blue Raiders (7-17, 3-7) for the second time this season.
"At this time of the year teams are getting beat down and this is where the rubber meets the road," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "We didn't really play that sharp but the team pulled out of it. It's nice to see them come together and get that confidence back. It really bothers us when we lose and they don't let the losses get them down. Middle Tennessee played really well especially on defense and they challenged us. Kudos to them, they really tested us."
Bawcum, who bested her previous career-best 15 kills set earlier this season, hit .300 (22-of-50) for the match and recorded the most kills by an Owl since Ashleigh McCord had 23 in 2010.
"Andi was really consistent and a go to player today for us," Volpe said. "She's just been getting better and better every day from the beginning of the season until now. And it was really fun to watch Katie (Steel) develop through the match. She's a total gamer and loves to pick apart the defense. She started really running a smart offense and it was great to see her run the team."
Leah Mikesky also had a solid night for the Owls, picking up her team-leading 12th double-double of the year with 17 kills and 16 digs. Chelsey Harris also had double-digit kills with 10. Daniela Arenas went over 20 digs yet again for the Owls with 21 on the night.
MT's Chelsea Ross tied Bawcum for the night's lead in kills with 22 on 70 attempts (.186).
Rice rallied from an early 8-3 deficit in the opening set to win 25-23 after taking their first lead at 20-19 following an ace from Humphrey. Bawcum led all players with seven kills in the set while Steel orchestrated the offense with 14 assists. The Owls held the Blue Raiders to a hitting percentage of just .107 and had nine more kills (17-8).
The Owls pushed their lead to 2-0 following a 25-22 victory in the second set. Rice led nearly the entire set and Mikesky chipped in five kills while Bawcum added four more. MT attempted a late comeback, trimming the Owls lead to 22-21 following a Rice attack error, however, the Owls responded with two kills from Mikesky and the set-clincher from Humphrey.
The Blue Raiders rallied to take the third set (26-24) from the Owls, erasing a 17-11 Rice lead to hand the Owls their first conference home set loss of the year. Bawcum and Mikesky added six more kills apiece but the Blue Raiders Chelsea Ross had seven of her own to help lead the comeback.
In the fourth set the Owls played their best offensive game of the night, hitting .317 and building an early lead that they never relinquished on their way to a 25-21 match set victory.
Rice will look to make it an unblemished weekend on Sunday when they host UAB at 1 p.m.