By: Kenny Bybee (email@example.com)
Rice 3-Charlotte 0 (PDF Box Score)
HOUSTON - The Rice Owls volleyball team won their ninth consecutive home match with a dominant 3-0 sweep over the Charlotte 49ers Sunday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse, the team's 11th sweep of the season.
Rice (17-9, 9-2) improved to 11-3 at home this season and moved into sole possession of second place in the Conference USA standings by limiting Charlotte (7-19, 1-9) to just a .124 hitting percentage while the Owls hit a blistering .356 of their own.
The Owls trailed just once early in set two while seven players hit .400 or better.
"I was really happy with the team's focus today," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "The first set I was really inspired by our defense. We were running balls down and played really scrappy so that set the tone early. Leah was super consistent today and really had a great match. Charlotte pushed us a bit in that third set but we kept our focus and got a really good win."
Rice senior Leah Mikesky had a standout afternoon for the Owls with a match-high 15 kills on 26 attacks (.462). The Schulenburg, Texas native recorded five kills in each of the three sets while also contributing nine total digs.
Junior setter Madison McDaniel orchestrated the Rice offense with 37 assists (12.3 aps) and matched a season-high with eight kills (.429). Defensively the Owls received a 21-dig performance from freshman libero Lee Ann Cunningham, her seventh match of 20-plus digs this season.
Rice opened up a 9-2 lead to start the first set and never trailed on their way to a 25-14 victory. The 49ers hit .000 for the frame while the Owls hit .344 behind 11 assists from McDaniel.
In set two the Owls fell behind 1-0, their only deficit of the match, but hit a match-high .552 for the set and had a sideout clip of 80 percent (12-of-15). Charlotte gave the Owls a test in set three by pulling to within 20-18 but Rice sealed the set and match with a 5-3 run.
The Owls will next prep for a tough C-USA road trip that will take them to No. 23 WKU on Friday, followed by a Sunday match at Southern Miss. Rice returns home to host UTSA on Nov. 12 on Senior Day before hosting the Conference USA Championship Nov. 18-20.