HOUSTON, Texas - The Rice Owls volleyball team notched their 20th win of the season for a fourth straight year with a 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-23) victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles Sunday afternoon at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Rice (20-7, 10-3) bounced back from a 3-0 loss to No. 25 WKU on Friday by limiting Southern Miss (17-11, 7-5) to a .080 hitting percentage in the regular season home finale. The Owls were led offensively by sophomore middle blocker Grace Morgan, who recorded a match-high 14 kills (.565) and freshman outside hitter Seyvion Waggoner (13 kills).
"It was good to see our team rebound after the opening set today," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "We had significant leads early in the first two sets, and to let the first set go was a little disappointing. That's something we've got to stop. Our defense kicked into gear though, our defensive specialists made some tough plays. Then Seyvion came in and provided the spark that we needed on the offensive end. She was aggressive and took big swings at critical moments. I was glad we were able to pull it out in four sets, and we had a great crowd so it was a nice environments for our seniors on Senior Day."
Prior to the match, Rice recognized the careers of seniors Julianna Dole, McDaniel, Stephanie Mendivil and Portia Okafor.
Senior setter Madison McDaniel closed out her home career with her 11th double-double of the season, totaling 36 assists and 15 digs. Rice also got big contributions from Kassidy Muse (8 kills, .316) and Lee Ann Cunningham (14 digs).
Southern Miss rallied from a 13-7 deficit in the opening frame and broke a 22-22 tie to defeat the Owls 25-22 in set one. Rice turned the page however in set two, jumping out to an 11-2 advantage, before winning 25-17 to even the match 1-1.
The Owls hit .333 as a team in game three, by far their best performance of the afternoon. Rice trailed midway through the set, 15-12, but the Owls responded to a timeout by outscoring USM 13-3 the rest of the way to win 25-18. In set four the two teams played to 12 ties and five lead changes. With the game tied 23-23, USM committed a service error before Waggoner ended the match with one final kill.
The Owls will play their final C-USA match of the regular season next Saturday, Nov. 11 when they travel to UTSA for a 1 p.m. match. Rice will enter play in third place in the C-USA standings, behind both WKU and North Texas.