Rice 3-Marshall 0 (PDF Box Score) | Updated C-USA Championship Bracket
HOUSTON – Behind a stingy defense and a match-high 21 kills from senior Chelsey Harris, the No. 6 seeded Rice Owls volleyball team advanced to the semifinals of the C-USA Championship with a 3-0 sweep (26-24, 25-23, 25-20) over No. 3 seeded Marshall Friday evening at Tudor Fieldhouse.
“We are happy to have battled and won that first match,” Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. “It’s always the toughest in the C-USA Tournament. I thought our team’s composure and determination is what won it for us today. It’ll be a quick celebration for us and on to tomorrow.”
Rice (19-11, 10-4), who will playNo. 2 seed Southern Miss Saturday at 5 p.m., swept the Thundering Herd for the second time this season by limiting Marshall to a .211 hitting percentage. Three Owls notched 10 or more digs and as a team Rice has 12.0 blocks.
On the offensive end Harris was an unstoppable force, converting 21 kills on a season-high 45 attacks (.356) along with a couple blocks for a match-high 23.5 points. Senior outside hitter Leah Mikesky also posted double-figure kills (10) and had 11 digs for her 14th double-double of the season. Junior setter Madison McDaniel just missed out on her 20th double-double of the year with a splendid line of 39 assists (13.0 aps) and 12 digs.
Rice rallied late in the opening set for a 26-24 victory by erasing a 22-18 deficit and holding at match point (24-23). Harris recorded consecutive kills to give Rice a 25-24 advantage and freshman Grace Morgan clinched the victory with a solo block. Harris posted nine kills (.389) in the first set alone while Mikesky chipped in five kills (.400). McDaniel posted 15 of her 39 assists in the first game.
The second set was nearly a carbon copy for the Owls, rallying late and grabbing their first lead of the set at 24-23 on an ace from Livingstone. Marshall then had a service error to give the Owls the 25-23 victory. Rice had trailed by as many as five points twice in the set before the late surge.
Rice came out of the break on a mission to complete the sweep and broke a 9-9 tie with a 12-5 spurt to open up a 21-14 advantage. Harris would add three late kills to complete the sweep and send the Owls on to the next round with a 25-20 win.