HOUSTON - Madison McDaniel, Leah Mikesky and Noelle Whitlock all posted double-doubles to help the Rice Owls volleyball team secure the team's 20th win of the season with a 3-2 (25-11, 26-28, 25-13, 20-25, 16-14) victory over the UTEP Miners Thursday evening.
The Owls (20-9, 10-5) improved to 7-4 in five-set matches and sent Kyley Reed, Kimberly Vaio and Whitlock out in style on Senior Night. Rice outgained UTEP (9-21, 3-12) kills (75-58), hitting percentage (.283-.192), assists (68-52), and digs (73-61).
McDaniel just missed out on recording the Owls first triple-double since 2012, posting 54 assists, 12 digs and a career-high nine kills. Mikesky led all players with 21 kills (.264) while notching 14 digs and Whitlock posted 16 kills and 15 digs in her final game at Tudor Fieldhouse. Freshman Julianna Dole recorded a career-high 21 digs to helps the Owls' defensive effort.
"It wasn't the cleanest match but we did some things well," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "Our team knows as well as anybody we need to clean up our side of the net. I am proud that they found a way to win in five sets again. To pick up win number 20 at this point of the season, we're very happy to win that match."
Rice won 20 matches in a single season for the fifth time under Volpe and the 14th time in school history.
The Owls cruised to a 25-11 victory in the opening set by slugging a match-high .517 in the frame. Rice trailed only once, 1-0, and never looked back after a 10-1 run. The script flipped before intermission with UTEP limiting the Owls to a match-low 1.48 hitting percentage and opened up a lead as large as 23-17. The Owls did manage to tie the set 26-26; however back-to-back kills by the Miners evened the match 1-1.
Much like the opening frame, the Owls dominated the third set en route to a 25-13 victory. Rice hit .435 for the set and never trailed. UTEP would respond again though, defeating the Owls 25-20 to force the fifth and decisive set.
Despite jumping out to a 5-1 lead, UTEP fought their way back to eventually tie the set 10-10. The two teams would play to three more ties until the Owls broke through with consecutive points on a kill by Mikesky and a UTEP hitting error to win 16-14.
The Owls will look to close out the regular season with a third straight win on Saturday when they travel to Birmingham, AL to face UAB at 1 p.m.