HOUSTON — The UTSA volleyball team was unable to overcome No. RV Rice as they suffered a 25-12, 25-21, 25-18 setback on Saturday in American Athletic Conference play at the Tudor Fieldhouse.
The Roadrunners (8-8, 1-4 AAC) fell to the No. RV Owls (11-4, 5-0 AAC) as Rice remained unbeaten in AAC play.
Freshman Miranda Putnicki delivered a solid five-block performance for the 'Runners, while junior Cheyenne Hlady and Senior Alicia Coppedge each managed three. Aiding in the defensive effort, senior Aliah Giroux logged 13 digs and junior Ellie Turner nine.
Sophomore Mia Soerensen provided the bulk of the UTSA offense to the tune of 11 kills, as freshman Makenna Wiepert totaled 14 assists and junior Mekaila Aupiu eight.
Kills for Aupiu and sophomore Caroline Krueger helped keep things knotted at five early in the first frame, prior to a 6-1 Owl surge that allowed them to go up 11-6. Rice extended their lead, winning the race to 20 en route to a 20-10 score line. Krueger recorded another termination and Putnicki a solo block before the Owls claimed the set 25-12.
Rice jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the second stanza, but the Roadrunners responded with a four-point spurt that saw multiple Putnicki blocks and a senior Faye Wilbricht termination. The squads exchanged runs, with Rice stealing the following five points and UTSA battling back to within one on a Giroux ace. A Wilbricht kill shortly after kept UTSA within striking distance, ahead of another Rice rally that saw a 20-14 lead for the Owls. UTSA whittled away at their deficit with kills for Kreuger, Hlady, and Coppedge, getting them back into the fight. With Rice looking to put away the set and up 24-21, a Coppedge termination, an Owl miscue, and a Putnicki/Coppedge combo block knotted the set at 24, inducing a win-by-two scenario. The Roadrunners claimed the initial advantage; however, a trio of points for Rice cemented a 27-25 victory for the opposition.
The Owls again worked an early lead, going up 6-3, ahead of a three-point UTSA run bookended by a Krueger kill and ace. After exchanging blows, a termination for Wilbricht, back-to-back Hlady kills, and another successful attack by Wilbricht handed the 'Runners a 10-7 edge. A Soerensen kill shortly after allowed UTSA to claim a 13-9 lead, ahead of five consecutive Rice points that tied things up. The Owls were the first to 20, taking a 20-17 lead prior to a three-point UTSA swing that saw a Wilbricht kill to work a 20-20 tie. The Owls achieved the next two points, prompting a UTSA timeout with the scoreboard reading 22-20. The Roadrunners kept fighting as a kill for Wiepert brought the squad within one. Rice however, persevered, firing across a final kill for a 25-23 win.
The 'Runners now turn their attention toward South Florida as UTSA welcomes the Bulls into the Convocation Center on Friday, Oct. 6, as they host a Barbie Pink Out for Breast Cancer contest at 6 p.m.