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Volleyball extends win streak to four over weekend

Senior libero Nia McCardell hits the ball. The Owls beat Tulane University twice this past weekend to make their overall record 17-7 as they extended their win streak to four. Courtesy Rice Athletics

By Pavithr Goli     11/7/23 11:27pm

Rice Volleyball won both of their games against Tulane University last weekend, extending their win streak to four games. The Owls defeated the Green Wave 3-1 at home on both Friday and Saturday, boosting their overall record to 17-7 and their record against conference play to 11-3. Head coach Genny Volpe said she is pleased with the team’s performance and is focused on improving the team’s consistency.

 “I think that we’re definitely doing some good things,” Volpe said. “It’s a grind right now just getting toward the end of the regular season. So I feel like the team is locked in, they know what they need to do. And we’re just continuing to work on our consistency.”

Friday night’s match saw the Owls come out to a hot start, taking a quick 5-0 lead in the first set. However, the Green Wave had a run of their own to tie the match up at 7-7 in the first half. After going back and forth throughout the set, the Owls utilized several spurts of three straight points to take the first set away from the visitors. 

However, the second set represented a different story as the Green Wave dominated play. After a tie early in the set at eight, the Green Wave went on a 9-0 run to take control of the set, ultimately defeating the Owls 25-12 and tying the game at one set apiece. The Owls did not let this faze them, though, as they dominated the third set. Never trailing during the third period of the game, the Owls maintained small leads or ties with the Green Wave. However, a 6-0 run by the Owls secured a 25-18 victory in the third set, giving them a 2-1 lead over Tulane. 

At the start of the fourth set, the Green Wave showed some battle, quickly jumping out to a 10-5 lead over the Owls. However, a 17-2 run by the Owls propelled them to a 22-12 lead over the Green Wave. The Owls closed out the set 25-14, confirming their victory in the first game of their weekend series against their conference rivals. 

The victory meant even more for senior libero Nia McCardell, who reached 1500 career digs in Friday night’s game. Volpe applauded McCardell for her role on the team not only this season, but throughout her time at Rice. 

“[McCardell’s] value to the team, it’s kind of hard to put into words,” Volpe said. “She’s just extremely important in a lot of areas. She takes a lot of responsibility. That’s what I really love about her is that she’s never really satisfied with her performance. Overall, the elevation of our program, a lot of that is because of [McCardell]. She’s done a really good job for us over the years.”

The Owls didn’t skip a beat during their second game against the Tulane Saturday afternoon. The first set was all Owls as they quickly jumped out to a 11-6 lead halfway through the first set. After several 3-0 spurts by the Owls in response to a Tulane 5-1 run, Rice took the first set 25-17. 

Using the momentum from their strong first set, the Owls dominated the second set. A tight affair at the beginning, the Owls took advantage of a 4-0 and 7-2 run to secure a 25-16 victory and a 2-0 lead over the Green Wave.

The Green Wave responded effectively in the third set of the match, never trailing. On the back of a 5-0 run and strong defense, the visitors cut the Owls lead to 2-1. 

However, Rice was able to seal the deal in the fourth set. Tied midway through the set, both Rice and Tulane found themselves in a stalemate with ten points apiece. However, a 12-4 run by the Owls gave them a 22-14 lead. The Owls closed out the set with a final score of 25-18, confirming their Saturday afternoon victory. 

Looking ahead, graduate student Emilia Weske said that she and her team are focused on ending the season on a high note, emphasizing that the team has spent months preparing for this exact moment. 

“The team is at a spot in the season where everything we've worked for is kind of happening,” Weske said. “I think we are highly motivated, going into the last stretch of the season. And we really know that this is where all our hard work since you know, the summer or the beginning of spring really is going to start paying off. Just to see how the results play out, I think we have a really good shot at making the tournament and competing with the best in the country for postseason games.”

Next up for the Owls is a weekend series against the University of North Texas. The Owls will travel to Denton to play the Mean Green on Friday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. and on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN+. 

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