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No. 47 Rice women’s tennis went 3-0 to finish off its road trip last week to move to 12-5 on the season. With the conference tournament just 15 days away, the Owls recorded dominant victories over University of Texas, Arlington, the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University.
With a win and two losses to Florida Atlantic University (18-8-1, 7-2 Conference-USA) this weekend, Rice baseball fell to 9-21 (2-7 C-USA). Rice is now 3-11 in its last 14 games, with the majority of losses coming from a brutal seven-game losing streak in mid-March.
Despite a loss to Western Kentucky University to complete its regular season, Rice basketball finished 21-10 (11-7 C-USA) and captured the fifth seed in the Conference USA tournament. The Owls rebounded from a slow start to the season by winning eight of their final 10 games, but ultimately fell one spot shy of securing a first round bye in the championship.
When head coach Mike Rhoades arrived on Rice’s campus, he was taking over a program that had not had a 20-win season in a decade. It took him just three seasons to break that drought. Rhoades, who inherited a 7-23 team in 2014 after former head coach Ben Braun resigned, led the Owls to an upset victory over Louisiana Tech University to improve the team’s record to 20-9. Rhoades said he is pleased with the development of the program after three years.
After just one year at Rice, sophomore shortstop Ford Proctor is already making a name for himself. His .336 average and team leading .471 slugging percentage earned him many accolades, including Freshman All-American, Conference USA Freshman of the Year, All-Conference USA (second team) and Conference USA All-Tournament Team. Despite the national recognition he has achieved, Proctor said he is not worrying about all of the individual honor.
As a freshman, junior pitcher Glenn Otto wasn’t sure how much playing time he would get. The Rice baseball team was stacked with talented upperclassmen pitchers and Otto wondered if he was going to get any innings. However, in an opening day matchup against the University of Texas, Austin Longhorns, Otto was called on in relief and struck out the side of the sixth best team in the nation in his collegiate debut to prove his spot among the best in college baseball. Recently named a preseason All-American, Otto said despite the 3-1 loss to Texas, his first taste of college baseball is his most memorable moment as an Owl.
As a seventh grader, Egor Koulechov quit his soccer team in Volgograd, Russia. His family had moved to a new house, and without a car, practice was too far away. Forced to pick a new sport, Koulechov simply chose the closest available option. That day, the future Conference USA star began his basketball career.
Rice men’s basketball embraced the adage “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” on Saturday. After trailing 39-37 at the half, the Owls outscored the University of North Texas (6-12, 0-5) 64-40 in the second half to win 101-79 on Whiteout day at Tudor Fieldhouse. The 101 points were the most points Rice has ever scored in a Conference USA game. With the victory, the Owls snapped a two game losing streak and brought their record to 12-6 (2-3 in conference).
The Rice Owls volleyball team (18-11, 10-4) finished its regular season on a high note, sweeping the University of Texas, San Antonio (19-7, 10-4) on Senior Day at Tudor Fieldhouse to avenge a defeat earlier in the season. Despite the victory, a Florida Atlantic University win dropped Rice University to the sixth seed in the upcoming Conference USA Volleyball Tournament, where it will play No. 3 Marshall University (22-7, 11-3) in the first round this Friday.
With less than a second remaining in in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament and Rice clinging to a 61-60 lead over Louisiana Tech University, senior forward Jasmine Goodwine fouled Brooke Pumroy on a fadeaway jumper, sending the Lady Techsters’ shooting guard to the free throw line with a chance to win the game. It was a potentially season-ending mistake for Rice, as Pumroy had an 88 percent free throw percentage at the time. Goodwine said she thought she had lost the game for her team.
The Rice Owls women’s basketball team had a motto in the 2015-16 season — “Overtime is Owl time” — due to their 4-1 overtime record.
Since 2004, the Rice University women’s volleyball team has compiled a 232-157 record, paving the way for eight winning seasons, one Conference USA championship (2009), three second-place finishes (2004, 2011 and 2012) and three berths to the NCAA tournament (2004, 2008 and 2009), the only three appearances in Rice volleyball history. It is no coincidence that head coach Genny Volpe’s arrival coincides with the beginning of this historic run. Under Volpe, the Owls have enjoyed their winningest period under a single head coach.
When Antonio Merlo came from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014 to chair Rice’s economics department, he came with a lot more than a knowledge of economics and an Italian accent. Merlo, also the newly appointed Dean of the School of Social Sciences, brought with him a passion and a deep understanding of water polo that he hopes will bring Rice’s club team to an unprecedented level.
On Friday night, Rice Stadium will be rocking. In Rice’s first home game of the season, the Owls will take on No. 21 Baylor University in a primetime game on ESPN. Baylor brings one of the nation’s best offenses into the game, but Rice is hoping its attack can match the Bears point for point. The following six players--three Owls and three Bears--will lead their respective teams into the Friday night showdown.
As a 16-year-old high school standout, senior captain Leah Mikesky committed to play volleyball at Florida State University. Six years later, she is finishing her college career at Rice. A natural-born athlete, Mikesky starred in tennis and track as a high schooler while earning academic all-state selections in volleyball and basketball. When she left Schulenburg, Texas, a small town of just under 3,000 people, to attend Florida State, Mikesky had no idea that her journey would bring her back to just 95 miles from her home town at Rice.
Last season, the Rice volleyball team was soaring. After sweeping the University of Southern Mississippi, the Owls were 17-8 and were preparing for a home match against No. 22 Western Kentucky University. Weeks later, however, the Rice volleyball team suffered a meltdown in the first round of the Conference USA tournament, losing 3-1 against the same Southern Miss squad that they had swept earlier in the season. It was a disappointing ending to an otherwise positive season, one in which the Owls won 21 games. After the season-ending loss, head coach Genny Volpe said Rice players are sure to use the 2015 season as motivation for the upcoming campaign.
In 2016, a Rice sports team came within inches of winning its third straight national championship. It wasn’t the baseball team, the soccer team, or the football team; in fact, this team isn’t even recognized by the NCAA. Torque, the women’s ultimate frisbee club team, is largely unknown despite being one of Rice’s most successful sports teams. After years of championship-caliber play, Torque has become one of the most respected ultimate teams in the nation.