HOUSTON - The Rice Owls volleyball team bounced back from a difficult previous weekend with a 3-0 triumph over the UTSA Roadrunners Saturday afternoon on Senior Day at Tudor Fieldhouse.
With the victory the Owls (18-11, 10-4) finished the C-USA season a perfect 7-0 at Tudor Fieldhouse, marking the first time Rice went undefeated at home during conference play since their 6-0 record in 2004 as members of the WAC.
On Saturday the Owls were led by seniors Chelsey Harris (16 kills) and Leah Mikesky (13 kills), who combined for 29 of the team's 47 kills. Rice outhit UTSA (19-7, 10-4) .302-.198 and posted a 51-39 advantage in total digs.
Junior setter Madison McDaniel recorded her C-USA leading 19th double-double with 38 assists and 12 digs while freshman libero Lee Ann Cunningham continued her stellar freshman campaign with a match0high 22 digs.
"I think the team was super composed today, and they typically are, but it really came through today," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said following the win. "I'm really proud of the team's response. They never doubted themselves for a second and they had a lot of confidence on the floor and I could tell when I looked them all in the eyes they weren't going to be shaken today."
The Owls got off to a brilliant start in the opening set behind dominant performances from Harris and Mikesky, who totaled 11 combined kills. Rice hit .467 in the frame behind 15 assists from McDaniel while limiting UTSA to .167. The Owls broke open a 13-12 lead with a 12-5 spurt to win 25-17.
UTSA seemed primed to even the match 1-1 by taking a 22-20 lead in the second set but Harris helped rally the Owls with three kills en route to a 25-23 victory.
The two teams battled it out in the third and final set with UTSA holding match point 24-21. Rice wanted no part of a fourth set though, rallying to win 28-26 behind a pair of kills from Harris and Mikesky.
Rice will host next weekend's C-USA Championship (Nov. 18-20) as the No. 6 seed and will face No. 3 Marshall Friday at 5 p.m.