By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
IRVING, Texas – The Rice Owls volleyball team has been picked to finish third in Conference USA’s preseason poll, conducted by the league’s head coaches and released on Monday.
The reigning and back-to-back C-USA Tournament champion WKU Lady Toppers were picked to repeat while UTSA was selected to finish second in front of the Owls. Southern Miss, Florida Atlantic, North Texas. FIU, Marshall, Charlotte, Middle Tennessee, UTEP, UAB and Louisiana Tech were picked to finish in that order behind Rice.
C-USA additionally released its Preseason All-Conference Team, which includes four Owls, the most of any C-USA member. Seniors Chelsey Harris and Leah Mikesky and juniors Madison McDaniel and Portia Okafor were all named to the 12-player team.
Harris was a 2015 All-C-USA Second Team selection who finished second on the team in kills, kills per set and total points. Mikesky meanwhile led the Owls in total kills, kills per set, total attacks and points en route to being selected to the All-C-USA First Team for the first time in her career.
McDaniel shined in her first season as the Owls’ setter last year, earning a spot on the All-C-USA First Team and won five C-USA Setter of the Week honors. Okafor was an All-C-USA Second Team selection, leading the Owls in total blocks and posted the fourth-best single-season hitting percentage (.361) in Rice history.
Rice head coach Genny Volpe and the Owls will open training camp on Aug. 8 with the season opener set for Aug. 26 at the BYU Invitational. The Owls home opener is set for Aug. 30 versus Houston Baptist. Season/single match tickets are currently on sale at the Rice Athletic Ticket Office at Tudor Fieldhouse, by phone at (713) 348-6957 or at RiceOwls.com.