The Rice University volleyball team completed an undefeated weekend by winning two matches against conference opponents. On Friday, the Owls faced Middle Tennessee State University, winning 3-1. The team ended the weekend with a 3-0 victory over the University of Alabama, Birmingham. The Owls have now won seven of their last eight matches.
Freshman setter Katie Steel and junior outside hitter Andi Bawcum were named Conference USA Setter of the Week and Offensive Player of the Week, respectively. Steel, in her first career start, tallied 95 assists for the weekend in replacement of the injured Sara Blasier as the setter. Bawcum, who recorded a season-high total of 22 kills on Friday night, also earned her first career C-USA Player of the Week award.
Senior defensive specialist Daniela Arenas also recorded 38 digs recorded over the two weekend games. According to Volpe, Arenas has been an important senior on the team who has led the younger players, despite not receiving much glory.
“Arenas has been awesome not just this weekend, but all season,” Volpe said. “She has been a steady leader for us and has been a big reason for our success. The things she does [do not] always show up on a stat sheet, but she does so much for our team.”
As the team comes close to wrapping up the season and preparing for the conference tournament, Volpe said she is still looking for improvement.
“We always are looking [to] improve,” Volpe said. “We are definitely a strong passing and defensive team, which is helping our offense, but we need to continue to improve in certain areas defensively to help us win the C-USA tournament.”
According to Volpe, the team is focusing on improving its serving heading into postseason play.
“I’d also like us to continue to serve more aggressively,” Volpe said. “That can be a very strong part of our team that I don’t think we have quite yet maximized.”
The Owls will now finish their road schedule as they head to South Florida next weekend for a Friday matchup against Florida International University on Oct. 31 at 5 p.m. and a Sunday morning matchup against Florida Atlantic University on Nov. 2 at 11 a.m.