Rice University women's volleyball lost 3-1 to the University of North Texas last weekend. With the loss, Rice's conference record is now 3-6 with five games left on the schedule. Next weekend, the team will travel to Florida to play Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University.

Head Coach Genny Volpe said sloppy mistakes prevented the team from winning last weekend. She said that while both teams played well, the Owls' miscues ultimately cost them the game.

"We just made some errors at key times," Volpe said. "It was a battle all afternoon, with both teams showing signs of greatness. I just think the timing of our errors [was] key, especially in the third set. Winning that set was key, and we came up short."

Florida Atlantic, Rice's next opponent, has a record of 1-7. FIU has a record of 4-7. Volpe said the Owls will work on game-like situations in practice to prepare for these games. She said she hopes that by simulating the feel of an actual game, the team will be better suited for circumstances that arise in the future.

"We are going to play a lot of game-like situations, and I think in doing that, we will handle some of those situations better in the future," Volpe said.

Volpe said the last leg of the conference schedule can be challenging because of the increase in injuries and the added stress of schoolwork.

"I think all teams are going to be challenged with fatigue and school getting very hectic,"

Volpe said.

Despite these struggles, Volpe said Rice hopes to take advantage of the upcoming games against teams with weak records. Neither Florida Atlantic nor FIU has had much more success than Rice. She said the Owls completely believe in their ability to win these matches and are still aiming high. They are looking to win the Conference USA tournament.

"We believe 100 percent that we can still reach our goal of representing C-USA in the NCAA tournament by winning the tournament championship," Volpe said. "We know we have the talent."

Volpe said the team needs to decrease the number of errors it makes in order to gain more victories. If the team can clean up its mistakes and remain undiscouraged by past failures, it will be in good shape. 

"I think the challenge for us will be to focus on one game at a time and remember that what has happened in the past just doesn't matter anymore," Volpe said. "We have five conference games left and then the C-USA tournament. The only thing that matters is winning it."