Southern Miss 3-Rice 2 (PDF Box Score)
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Four Rice Owls recorded 10 or more kills but a late surge by the Southern Miss Golden Eagles proved too much to overcome in a five set loss (25-22, 25-15, 30-32, 20-25, 13-15) Sunday afternoon at Reed Green Coliseum.
The Owls (17-11, 9-4) set season-highs in kills (74), assists (68) and digs (100) in the loss but a season-high 32 attacking errors proved to be the critical downfall. Junior setter Madison McDaniel earned her 18th double-double of the season with a season-best 60 assists and 21 digs.
Senior outside hitter Leah Mikesky also achieved a double-double with 19 kills and 18 digs, tying junior middle blocker Portia Okafor (15 kills, 6 blocks) for a team-high 20.0 points.
Sophomore middle blocker McKay Kyle also had a strong performance with a season-high 17 kills (.517) while senior right side hitter Chelsey Harris pitched in an additional 10 kills. Defensively freshman libero Lee Ann Cunningham had a monster performance with a career-high 32 digs, the 10th-most in a single match in Rice history.
Southern Miss (20-7, 9-3) defeated the Owls in the regular season for the first time since 2013 behind a team-high 20 kills from Stephany Purdue. The Golden Eagles won despite getting outhit .219-.194.
The Owls rallied from a 20-16 deficit in the opening set to win 25-22 with a 9-2 run. During that stretch Okafor had a big impact with a pair of blocks and a kill. Rice hit just .186 for the set but the Owls limited the Golden Eagles to a .111 clip.
Rice was masterful on the offensive end in set two, hitting a match-high .406 in the set. Okafor hit a blistering .700 by recording seven kills on 10 attacks. McDaniel posted 16 assists in the second frame alone as Rice posted a sideout clip of 80 percent to a 25-15 win.
All the momentum in the match shifted in an epic third set that had 14 ties and six lead changes. Despite seven kills from Kyle, Purdue matched her effort with seven kills of her own and Southern Miss kept the match alive with a 32-30 victory. Southern Miss carried the positive vibes into set four by holding the Owls to a .158 hitting percentage. The Golden Eagles broke a 10-10 tie by outscoring the Owls 15-10 the rest of the way for a 25-20 win.
In the deciding fifth set Mikesky added three kills but the Golden Eagles broke a 13-13 tie with kills from Catherine Repsher and Purdue to win the game and the match.
Rice will close out the C-USA regular season next Saturday, Nov. 12 when they host the UTSA Roadrunners on Senior Day at 1 p.m. The Owls will honor the careers of Andi Bawcum, Chelsey Harris, Maddi Holman, Leah Mikesky, Meghan Patterson and Miranda Rogers in a pregame ceremony.