SAN ANTONIO — The UTSA volleyball team captured a five-set thriller Friday night bringing down Rice by scores of 25-22, 23-25, 25-17, 20-25, 17-15 in the annual “Dig Pink” game.
Preseason Conference USA Player of the Year McKenzie Adams had a match-high 27 kills and setter Jessica Waldrip dished out a career-high 53 assists for UTSA (14-7, 6-1 C-USA). Dajana Boskovic and Dempsey Thornton joined Adams in surpassing the double-digit kill plateau with 14 and 12, respectively. The Birds also had 18 team blocks that contributed heavily to Rice (6-15, 3-4 C-USA) hitting only .188.
The Owls were led Jillian Humphrey and Lizzy Bache’s 15 kills. Chelsey Harris added 14 winners in the losing effort.
The Roadrunners came out firing in the opening frame building an 8-3 lead with Adams delivering three of her set-high 10 kills. The preseason Conference USA favorite Owls weathered the initial Roadrunners barrage to close within one, 19-18, before UTSA claimed six of the final 10 points to claim a 1-0 lead. The Birds hit .310 and got 13 assists from Waldrip.
Rice responded in a back-and-forth second game that featured eight ties including being knotted as late as 22-all. A pair of kills from Chelsey Harris closed out the set for the Owls.
UTSA hit .382 in a dominating third set that saw the pink-clad home team break open a six-all tie with a 19-11 set-clinching run. Adams continued her stellar night with a game-high eight winners.
The Roadrunners looked to be in control in the fourth stanza leading 15-11 but the Owls responded with a 12-3 run to clinch the set and fourth a decisive fifth set.
The Roadrunners built a 7-5 lead to open the decisive fifth set only to see the Owls respond with a 4-0 run and take a 9-7 lead. The two-teams continued to trade points as the fifth set had a total of 12 ties and five lead changes. UTSA finally pulled ahead and had a match point leading 14-13 following a Thornton kill only to see Rice respond to tie it again at 14-all. With the match knotted, 15-15, Waldrip turned the tide with a kill to put the Birds ahead 16-15 and on the third match point of the set for the Roadrunners, Adams and Lauren Muenchow teamed for a block of a Chelsey Harris attack to secure the victory.
UTSA will move on to host North Texas (12-11, 4-3 C-USA) on Sunday at 1 p.m.