Aug. 22, 2012
Rice Starts 2012 Season With Rice Invitational I
The Owls start the 2012 campaign by hosting the Rice Invitational. The Owls return six starters from a squad that finished second in C-USA in 2011 and posted its fourth consecutive winning season. Rice faces two 21-win teams from 2011 on Saturday, hosting Arkansas State (21-10 in 2011) and BYU (21-9 in 2011). Rice is led by preseason All-C-USA picks Nancy Cole and Megan Murphy.
Cole and Murphy Named Preseason All-C-USA
Senior middle blocker Nancy Cole and junior setter Megan Murphy were named to the Preseason All-Conference USA Volleyball Team. Cole makes her second consecutive appearance on the Preseason All-C-USA team. Cole is a two-time postseason All-C-USA selection, and was named an All-American by the AVCA last season. Murphy makes her first appearance on the Preseason All-Conference USA. She was named postseason All-C-USA and an AVCA All-American in 2011.
Rice Picked To Finish Second In C-USA
Rice was voted to finish second in C-USA by the league's coaches in the preseason poll. Tulsa was tabbed as the league's favorite, after winning two straight conference championships. The Owls totaled 119 points in the poll, six points ahead of third placed UCF. Rice finished second in Conference USA in 2011, its highest finish in the C-USA regular season. The Owls return six starters from last year's squad which went 18-13, good for the program's fourth straight .500-or-better season.
Rice In The Rice Invitational
At least one Rice Invitational has been played since 2005, and Rice is 19-13 in its home tournament in that span. Rice is on a three-match winning streak in the Rice Invitational, beating Houston Baptist, UTSA and Georgia Tech in the Rice Invitational II on Sept. 2-3, 2011. Nancy Cole was named MVP of Rice Invitational II in 2011, while Megan Murphy was named All-Tournament. Jillian Humphrey was All-Tournament in Rice Invitational I.
It's A Hit!
Rice ranked second in Conference USA in hitting percentage in 2011, only behind C-USA Champion Tulsa. The Owls ranked 48th in the nation in hitting percentage. Nancy Cole hit .335 in 2011, which ranked fourth in the league and 71st in the nation.
Rice is 17-15 in season openers all-time, and has won three of its last four curtain-raisers. Rice fell in five sets to Delaware to open last season in Tudor Fieldhouse. Rice is 60-47 in sets during season openers. The opener against Air Force this season is the first time Rice has opened its season against a team from the Mountain Time Zone.
Rice is 23-9 in home openers, and is 10-2 since 2000 in home openers. Rice has won 73 sets in home openers, and has only dropped 30 sets. Rice has opened the season at home in every year since 2007.
All Out Of WAC
Rice plays two former rivals from the Western Athletic Conference in the Rice Inivtational I, facing off against Air Force for the first time since the two schools met as members of the WAC in 1998. This is only the second time that BYU and Rice have played since both schools were in the WAC, having met most recently in 2003. Due to the 16-team WAC scheduling system, BYU and Rice only met during the 1996 season, playing a home-and-home. None of the three schools remained in the WAC, with Air Force and BYU (currently a member of the West Coast Conference) leaving for the Mountain West in 1999, and Rice leaving for C-USA in 2005. On Monday, the Western Athletic Conference announced it would not be sponsoring football for the 2013 season.
Rice libero/defensive specialist Daniela Arenas and Arkansas State middle blocker Ashley Tipps played together at Cy-Woods High School in Cypress ... Six of Air Force's athletes hail from Texas ... Arenas played club volleyball on Texas Tornados with Air Force's Maiya Perich