HOUSTON, Texas - In the regular season finale, the Rice Owls volleyball team was unable to bring the seniors a final home victory, falling 25-19, 25-21, 25-22 to UTSA as the Roadrunners clinched the Conference USA championship at Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston. The match marked the final home appearance for seniors Jillian Humphrey, Lizzy Bache and Daniela Arenas.
Chelsey Harris led the Owls (21-9, 11-5) with 14 kills and hit .440 for the match. Humphrey paced the Owls net defense with four blocks and added nine kills in her final home match while Arenas led Rice with 12 digs. Sara Blasier had solid day for the Owls with 30 assists, eight digs, three kills and two blocks.
UTSA's (19-8, 15-1) Dajana Boskovic led all hitters with 24 kills, including 11 in the final set.
"Of course were pretty disappointed with the outcome of today," said Rice head coach Genny Volpe. "I give a lot of credit to UTSA because they came in with a clear purpose to win the conference. They knew they had to beat us today to achieve that and they did. Boskovic was unstoppable today and their team rallied around her play."
The Owls charged out of the gates to open the match with three-straight points. The Roadrunners bounced back for the next four, marking the first of 11 ties and five lead changes in the set. The teams continued to trade points, and Harris tied the set at 14-14 with one of her five kills in the frame. UTSA responded with a pair of kills and would not trail for the rest of the set.
Rice came out strong again in the second set, running out to a 4-0 lead. UTSA chipped away at the score to tie it at 9-9, the first of 13 ties in the frame. The teams continued to trade blows, trading the lead five times. With the score knotted at 21, the Roadrunners' Dajana Boskovic scored a kill to start a 4-0 run to finish the set.
UTSA opened the third set with a 4-1 run including a pair of Boskovic kills and never looked back.
The season is not over though as the Owls are assured of a berth in the C-USA Tournament, which begins Nov. 21 in Hattiesburg, Miss.
"We pride ourselves in having a very balanced offense that is extremely productive," said Volpe. "We lead the conference and hitting percentage and kills per set and that is due to not one player but several. I know that we can execute the offense at a much higher level than we did today. If we do that, a conference tournament championship is in our grasp. That's what we're looking to do next week."