Southern Miss 3-Rice 2 (PDF Box Score)
IRVING, Texas – The Rice Owls volleyball team was eliminated from the Conference USA Championships Friday afternoon with a five set quarterfinals loss (25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 18-25, 10-15) to No. 6 seed Southern Miss.
Rice (21-8) was led offensively by the C-USA Co-Freshman of the Year Nicole Lennon, who recorded a team-best 17 kills in the loss. Fellow freshman Seyvion Waggoner tied a season-high with 14 kills while freshman Kassidy Muse added an additional nine kills. Senior setter Madison McDaniel produced her 12th double-double of the season with 43 assists and 12 digs while sophomore libero Lee Ann Cunningham notched a team-high 17 digs.
Southern Miss (20-11) had three players post 10 or more kills, led by a match-high 18 from Kylie Grandy. The Golden Eagles, who rallied from a 2-1 match deficit, edged the Owls in kills (69-55) and aces (7-2).
The Owls lost for just the second time in 11 tries this season in five set matches (9-2) and failed to win for the first time in 2017 when winning the opening set. Rice jumped out to a 6-1 advantage in the opening frame and never relinquished the lead, hitting a match-high .423 for the set and claimed a 1-0 match lead with a 25-20 victory.
In set two, Southern Miss bounced back offensively with a .300 clip and broke a 24-24 tie thanks to a Rice attack error and a Sarah Bell dump kill, winning 26-24. Rice responded on the defensive end in set three, limiting the Golden Eagles to a .029 hitting percentage. The Owls grabbed control of the set with a 7-1 run midway through, opening up a 19-12 advantage before winning 25-19.
Trailing 2-1, Southern Miss went on a 7-2 run of their own midway through the fourth game and never looked back en route to a 25-18 match-tying win. In the fifth set, Rice managed to trim a once 7-4 deficit to 11-10 but the Golden Eagles closed out the match with four straight points on kills to win 15-10.