A strong opening set wasn’t enough for the Rice volleyball team to avoid its eighth loss of the season Wednesday.
Rice won the opening set against Baylor 25-18 at Tudor Fieldhouse while notching 15 kills and a .367 hitting percentage. The Owls kept the next two sets close, but eventually fell to the Bears in four sets, 18-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-14.
After losing 12 times all of last season, Rice has dropped 8 of its first 11 matches in 2013. All three of the wins came against Texas schools.
The Owls were hoping to raise that mark to 4-0 and win its third straight over Big 12 competition, but Baylor had other ideas. The Bears (5-7) had nine team blocks and converted seven aces. They hit .282, compared to .228 for Rice.
The second set featured four ties. Baylor led 16-10 when Sara Blasier struck a kill to start a 7-1 Rice run. Blasier had nine assists in the second set and 39 for the match. Tyler Jenkins added two kills during the spurt. After a Baylor timeout, the Bears recovered to win eight of the next 12 points to close out the set.
Baylor led by a few points throughout the third set. A Meagan Murphy ace for Rice chopped the lead to 21-19. Thea Munch-Soegaard of Baylor responded with a kill and ace to put them up 23-20. A Jillian Humphrey spike inched Rice closer, but a few points later Baylor’s Zoe Adom closed out the set with a kill.
Baylor hit .481 – 14 kills and one error on 27 attacks – in the fourth set.
Humphrey led Rice with 14 kills while Noelle Whitlock added 11. It was the ninth time this year Humphrey recorded double-figure kills. Munch-Soegaard had 11 kills and 15 digs for Baylor. It was her sixth double-double of the season.
Rice heads to a tournament at Louisville this weekend for its last three non-conference matches. The Owls will face Virginia Tech, Bowling Green and host Louisville. The first match is at 2 p.m. Friday against the Hokies.