Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Monday, July 04, 2022 — Houston, TX

Volleyball swept by No. 1 Texas

Katherine Hui / Thresher

By Cadan Hanson     9/28/21 10:49pm

After the 58-0 blowout on the football field last week, there was hope that Wednesday’s volleyball game between Rice and the University of Texas, Austin would turn out differently. Following the two upsets in 2019 and 2020, when the Owls beat the No. 3 and No. 2 UT teams respectively, the team looked to pull off a three-peat of upsets when they hosted the No. 1 ranked Longhorns. However, the Owls could not handle the power of the undefeated Longhorns as they fell in three straight sets (25-14, 25-14, 25-14).

The Longhorns were hot from the start, quickly taking the advantage in the first set and never giving up their lead. Their offense outhit the Owls .388-.042 and recorded a total of 40 team kills while on the defensive side, out blocked Rice 7.0 to 3.0. Errors also played a big factor in the outcome, with the Owls tallying a total of 21 errors compared to the seven recorded by Texas. According to head coach Genny Volpe, the Longhorn’s success started from the serve.

“Texas dominated from the service line and unfortunately we did not respond well to that,” Volpe said. “We were trying to make adjustments and tried different personnel, [but] unfortunately Texas had an answer for everything.”

During the game, the Owls still showed flashes of success. Senior outside hitter Nicole Lennon continued her strong season, leading the Owls with 12 kills and one block while junior setter Carly Graham recorded 24 assists on the Owls 25 total kills. After the game, Volpe said she was impressed with how Lennon played even in the face of a high caliber opponent.

“I thought that Nicole Lennon had a solid match and took some really good swings against one of the best blocking teams in the country,” Volpe said.

Their match against the top-ranked Longhorns marked the fourth time all year that the Owls had faced a top-15 ranked opponent.  According to Volpe, the team was not rattled by the Longhorns’ ranking and was ready for the challenge. 

“I honestly don’t think our team felt an intense amount of pressure,” Volpe said. “We were playing the number one ranked team in the country and really saw that more as an opportunity than anything else.”

With the importance of the game in the air, Tudor Fieldhouse was sold out and complemented with a packed student section.  With an attendance of 2,478 fans, the most fans since the 2019 season, Volpe said that the team was appreciative of the support from the community.

“The student section was incredible,” Volpe said. “I’m really proud of our Rice family and hoping they come back out again because we love the support.”

The loss marks the end of the non-conference schedule and opens the door to conference play, where the Owls hope to improve on their runner-up place in the C-USA tournament last year. Over the weekend, the team began its conference schedule with back-to-back sweeps of the University of North Texas in Denton. The wins brought back memories of last season, when the team struggled in non-conference play only to start their conference schedule with six straight sweeps en route to an undefeated conference regular season. Now at 7-5, Volpe hopes that the Owls can have a similar run in conference play and get ready for postseason volleyball.

“Overall we played the toughest non-conference schedule in Rice volleyball history,” Volpe said. “I do think that our weaknesses were exposed and we are definitely working through those to be ready for the conference championship.”

The Owls hit the court next for a weekend double header against the University of Texas, El Paso at Tudor Fieldhouse. The games will be Saturday at 1:00 pm and Sunday at 12:00 p.m.

More from The Rice Thresher

SPORTS 6/13/22 2:41pm
Forbes takes silver at NCAAs

On Thursday, sophomore distance runner Grace Forbes proved to the rest of the country what her Conference USA opponents and Rice teammates have known for years – she’s one of the fastest runners in the country. Competing at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore. for the second consecutive year, Forbes, took second place in the 10,000-meter, the best finish by an Owl at the NCAAs in over a decade. According to Forbes, who missed the indoor season and the first month of the outdoor season due to extreme fatigue later diagnosed as an autoimmune disorder, the result was a testament to the work she’s put in to overcome an incredibly challenging year.

SPORTS 6/3/22 1:21pm
NCAA T&F prelims see five Owls qualify for championships, Forbes take gold

Five Owls will be heading to next week’s NCAA outdoor track and field championships, after qualifying at the NCAA West Preliminaries which ran May 25 through 28. Headlining the meet for Rice was sophomore distance-runner Grace Forbes, who took first place in the 10,000 meters for the second consecutive year. Forbes will be joined in Eugene, Ore., by sophomore thrower Tara Simpson-Sullivan, junior thrower Erna Gunnarsdottir, senior thrower James McNaney and sophomore vaulter Alex Slinkman. Jon Warren, head coach of the men’s track and field program, said that he was impressed not only by the five qualifiers, but by all 13 Owls who participated over the course of the week in Fayetteville, Ark.

SPORTS 5/22/22 10:09pm
Men's team takes third, women's takes fifth at C-USA T&F championships

The Conference USA outdoor track and field championships saw Rice’s men’s team place third with 121 points — their best conference championship performance since 2005 — and the women’s team place fifth with 88 points. According to men’s head coach Jon Warren, he was proud to see the work his team put in all season be on full display at the meet.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.