Volleyball drops conference matches at home
Heartbreak is a major part of all sports. Volleyball is no different, as the team learned this weekend, losing two five-set matches to the University of Memphis (15-11, 6-8 C-USA) and the University of Alabama-Birmingham (8-18, 5-9 C-USA). This marks the second time this season that the Owls have lost to UAB in five sets. Rice is now 14-13 overall on the season with a 9-6 record in conference and is currently tied for fourth place with the University of Southern Mississippi.On a chilly Friday night, the Owls hosted Memphis in Tudor Fieldhouse. The Tigers dominated early, as they took the first set 25-18, but the Owls would not back down, as they took the second set 25-20. Memphis cruised to a 25-12 victory in the third set, with Rice fighting back for a dominant 25-13 fourth set. In the deciding fifth set, Memphis and Rice exchanged the first 14 points, before Memphis pulled away and eventually won the set 15-12 and the match 3-2. Sophomore middle blocker Nancy Cole had 16 kills, while junior outside hitter Jordan Meredith added 13 kills. Senior setter Meredith Schamun had 36 assists and senior libero Tracey Lam had 30 digs.
On Saturday, Rice hosted UAB, hoping to get revenge from their previous encounter on Oct. 15 in Birmingham, Ala. where the Owls fell 3-2. The Owls got off to a slow start again, as UAB took the first set 25-19. However, the Owls seemed to have reached their form by winning the next two sets 25-21 and 28-26, respectively, to take a 2-1 set lead. The Blazers would not fall, as they pushed the match to a fifth set with a 25-22 fourth-set victory. Again, Rice could not pull through in the decisive set, as they fell to UAB 15-11 to lose the match 3-2. For the match, Cole had 16 kills, while Meredith added 13 kills. Schamun had 51 assists and Lam had 33 digs.
The Owls are at Tudor again this weekend, hosting Marshall University (9-17, 3-11 C-USA) today and East Carolina University (1-25, 0-14 C-USA) tomorrow. Rice has already played Marshall and East Carolina this season, beating them 3-0 and 3-1, respectively.
Coming off of two tough losses, most teams would be feeling down, but the same cannot be said for this team, as Head Coach Genny Volpe said the squad has still brought the same amount of heart and determination to practice.
"Realistically, I think they are just frustrated with the fact that we have put ourselves in the position that we are in, but they are remaining very positive and they are continuing to work hard," Volpe said. "I have seen teams not do that in the past."
Sophomore outside hitter Laurie McNamara sees it the same way, as she knows her team is not going to give up with still many important matches left.
"We need to focus on the fact that we have five games left and we just want to go out with a bang and to finish on a good note, so it is all about staying positive," McNamara said.
Going into this weekend's matches against East Carolina and Marshall, Volpe hopes that the team gets its confidence back, as both of these teams are going to give it all they have.
"We should have confidence, but the past is the past," Volpe said. "We know that every team that has come to play us has had nothing to lose, and we need that same attitude.
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