By Shehan Jeyarajah
Baylor volleyball overcame a slow start against Rice University to win their first road match of the season in Houston. Baylor dropped the first set and then won three consecutive sets to close out the Rice Owls and earn the victory. The sets went 18-25, 25-21, 25-21 and 25-14.
Sophomore outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard led the Bears. Munch-Soegaard finished with 11 kills, 13 digs and two service aces.
Senior outside hitter Zoe Adom finished with 13 kills. Sophomore setter Amy Rosenbaum paced the team with her 37 assists and seven digs.
Freshman middle hitter Tola Itiola and junior middle hitter Nicole Bardaji were key factors in the win. Each of them finished with four blocks. Itiola finished with eight kills on a .300 hitting percentage and Bardaji finished with nine kills on a .381 hitting percentage. Baylor finished with nine total blocks for the match.
Junior middle blocker Jillian Humphrey played well for Rice. Humphrey led the match with 14 kills on a .346 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Noelle Whitlock added 11 kills and eight digs to go along with two blocks. Freshman setter Sara Blasier paced the team with 39 assists, five digs, a block and six kills on a .600 hitting percentage.
Baylor struggled early, hitting only .125 in the opening set while allowing Rice to hit .367. Things were close in the second set before Baylor went on a four-point run. The Bears never trailed after that point. After the first set, Baylor held Rice to .189 hitting percentage for the rest of the match.
In the fourth set, Baylor came out and took a quick 4-0 lead and never looked back. For the set, they posted a hitting percentage of .481. Senior defensive specialist Kayci Evans and her two straight service aces sparked the Bears early in the set. Munch-Soegaard also energized the Bears with her three kills and a service ace.
Baylor volleyball will stay in Houston to play in the Flo Hyman Collegiate Cup at the University of Houston on Friday and Saturday where the Bears will face North Texas, LSU and Houston.