HUNTINGTON, WV - The Rice Owls volleyball team recorded their ninth sweep of the season with a straight sets (25-17, 25-19, 25-20) victory at Marshall Sunday afternoon.
With the victory, Rice (19-9 9-5) clinched a C-USA Championship berth, which will be held Nov. 20-22 in San Antonio.
The Owls hit a season-best .360 (47-11-100) as a team while limiting the Herd (15-12, 6-8) to just a .191 clip. Rice dominated the match throughout, with only three lead changes. Three Owls notched double-figure kills, led by 13 apiece from Leah Mikesky (.367) and Chelsey Harris (.550), while sophomore middle blocker Portia Okafor posted 10 kills (.500).
Madison McDaniel, the reigning AVCA National Player of the Week, distributed 40 assists (13.3 aps) in the three sets.
"Today's performance was a complete team effort," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "I thought everybody came in very focused and ready to play. Madison did a great job and put our hitters in position to be successful. Leah had an all-around solid game as well and Chelsey provided a nice spark late in the third set to help clinch the sweep."
The Owls set the tone for the match by hitting a blistering .714 in the opening frame with Mikesky posting eight of her 13 kills and McDaniel tallying 19 assists. Rice had 21 kills on 28 attacks in the set with only one error and a sideout rate of 77 percent. The Owls never trailed in the set en route to a 25-17 victory.
In set two Rice broke open a 12-12 tie by outscoring the Herd 13-7 the rest of the way for a 25-19 win. Rice held Marshall to just a .188 attack percentage in the set and a match-low 47 percent sideout clip. The Owls held off a late charge by the Herd in the third and final frame, closing on a 4-0 run to win 25-20. Harris had five of her 13 kills in the final set.
Rice will next host UTEP in their final home contest of the season on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. on Senior Day.