RUSTON, LA - The Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters volleyball team rallied from a 2-1 match deficit to defeat the Rice Owls in five sets (21-25, 25-12, 25-16, 26-28, 13-15) Sunday afternoon at Thomas Assembly Center.
Rice (16-8, 6-4) dropped to 5-4 in five-set matches this season and has gone the distance in six of their last eight matches. The Owls dropped the match to Louisiana Tech (8-15, 2-8) despite winning the battles in total kills (64-58), hitting percentage (.244-.199), assists (59-53), digs (77-62) and blocks (10.0-9.0).
"We were missing a focus and killer instinct today and it caused us to lose a critical match," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said afterwards. "We have to mature as a team."
Rice junior outside hitter Leah Mikesky led all players with 20 kills (.340) on 47 attacks for her fifth 20-plus kills performance of the season. Sophomore setter Madison McDaniel took the team lead in double-doubles with her 13th of the season, posting 48 assists and 18 digs while senior outside hitter Noelle Whitlock notched her eight double-double (13 kills, 18 digs) for the Owls. Sophomore middle blocker Portia Okafor pitched in 10 kills (.471) on 17 attacks and also had a match-high four blocks.
While the Owls saw their three-match win streak come to an end, the Lady Techsters snapped a three-game losing streak of their own. Four Lady Techsters posted 10 or more kills, led by 14 from senior Helena Gunnarsdottir.
After dropping the first set 25-21, the Owls bounced back to take a 2-1 match with victories in the second (25-12) and third (25-16) frames. Rice held a 20-14 lead in the fourth frame and appeared on their way to a fourth straight win only to see the Lady Techsters outscore the Owls 14-6 the rest of the way to force a fifth and deciding frame.
In the fifth set Rice jumped out to an 11-7 edge but Tech once again rallied with a 8-2 run to win the match.
Rice returns home for a pair of matches next week beginning with Southern Miss (21-7, 8-3) on Thursday at 6 p.m., followed by No. 22 WKU (23-2, 10-0) on Saturday at 2 p.m.