Sept. 24, 2017
RUSTON, La. - The Louisiana Tech women's volleyball team fell, 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 28-30, 17-25) to Rice in Tech's conference opener Sunday afternoon at the Thomas Assembly Center.
Tech (5-10, 0-1 C-USA) stood toe-to-toe with the Owls (11-5, 1-1 C-USA) after taking the second set in impressive fashion. However, a marathon third set, that saw the Techsters fight off three set Owls' set points, ultimately went Rice's way 30-28. That third-set triumph seemed to spark the Owls as they followed up by hitting .452 and taking the final frame, 25-17.
"I'm proud that our team battled for every point this match," head coach Adriano de Souza said. "In every set that we played we had opportunities that we missed. Our team was aggressive, but we need to become better in being calm when we are building stretches of points. I know our players will take the lesson from this match to prepare and play better next weekend."
Sophomore Madeline Davis paced the offense, hitting at the most efficient clip of any Techster qualifier this season (.625 - 16 kills on 24 attempts). Newcomer Marie-Helene Verlinden also stepped up in a big way with a career-best 14 kills while striking at a .458 rate (third-best among the team this season).
Senior Marta Monne added 12 kills and 11 digs for her team-best eighth double-double of 2017. Freshman Carter Mirich led the squad with 19 digs while senior Brooke Short reached 40+ assists for the fifth time this season.
"It's the second match in a row that our middles are creating good performances for themselves," de Souza added. "I'm very happy with the effort that they are putting forth and that they are following the gameplan."
In the first set, the Techsters started off strong, snagging four of the first six points. However, the Owls would respond with a big 11-4 run and took a 13-8 lead in the frame. The Techsters would fight the rest of the set, but never came within two points of the Owls, and dropped the first set, 25-21.
Trailing, 1-0, Tech came out with something to prove in the second set, striking at its highest percentage of the afternoon (.303 - 14 kills on 33 attempts). Rice actually had the upper hand throughout the second frame, but with both teams knotted at 16, Tech would rattle of nine of the final 13 points and evened the match with a 25-20 victory.
With the score now even at one, Rice once again raced quickly out of the gates to start the third set. Tech trailed 17-12 at one point, but a flurry of points, ignited by a Verlinden kill up the middle, gave Tech the 18-17 advantage. From the point forward, neither team would lead by more than two points as the back-and-forth set continued. The Techsters fought off three Rice set points at the end, but the Owls eventually claimed the marathon set, 30-28 after a Tech attack error.
The momentum from the grueling third set seemed to shift the momentum of the match, as Rice took an 8-7 lead in the fourth and would not trail again, en route to a 25-17 victory.
Tech will take this week to practice up before heading out on the road to take on last year's C-USA champion WKU on Friday at 5 p.m. Be sure to follow @LATechVB on Twitter for all updates and news surrounding the Lady Techsters.