IRVING, Texas – Led by the senior duo of preseason honorees Madison McDaniel and Portia Okafor, the Rice volleyball team was picked to finished second in the 2017 Conference USA head coaches’ poll announced on Tuesday (Aug. 9).
Rice finished the 2016 season with a 20-12 record and went 10-4 in league play. The Owls advanced all the way to the C-USA Championship match and completed the season ranked 66th in the RPI.
McDaniel was an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention in 2016 and earned a spot on the C-USA First Team after leading the league with 1,291 total assists, which ranked 23rd in the nation. McDaniel posted 21 double-doubles and became the 10th player in school history to surpass 2,000 career assists.
Okafor is a returning All-C-USA Second Team selection who led the league in blocks per set (1.28) and ranked 41st in the nation in that category. The Lewisville, Texas native enters the 2017 season as the Owls’ all-time leader in hitting percentage (.333).
The Owls take the court for the first time in 2017 next Thursday, Aug. 17 when they host Baylor at 5 p.m. in an exhibition match. Rice opens the regular season on the road at the SMU Doubletree Invitational on Aug. 25 when the Owls take on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 10 a.m. The team’s home-opener is set for Sept. 8 against Louisiana as part of the Rice Invitational I.
C-USA Volleyball Preseason Team
*Alyssa Cavanaugh, WKU, Sr., OH
Jessica Lucas, WKU, Sr., S
Rachel Anderson, WKU, Jr., MH
Catherine Repsher, Southern Miss, So., OH
Sarah Bell, Southern Miss, Jr., S
Amanda Chamberlain, North Texas, Sr., MB
Holly Milam, North Texas, Sr., MB
Madison McDaniel, Rice, Sr., S
Portia Okafor, Rice, Sr., MB
Madison Hill, Marshall, So., MB
Jac’cara Walker, Marshall, So., OH
Abbi Reid, Florida Atlantic, Jr., RS
Marijeta Runjic, UTSA, Sr., OH
C-USA Volleyball Preseason Poll
4. Southern Miss
6. North Texas
7. Florida Atlantic
9. Middle Tennessee
12. Louisiana Tech