Volleyball League Action Starts This Weekend at Tudor Fieldhouse
Owls host C-USA newcomer Middle Tennessee and East Carolina
Sept. 25, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas - Rice opens Conference USA play with a two-match homestand this weekend at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Owls welcome league newcomer Middle Tennessee in its inaugural C-USA match on Friday at 7 p.m. before hosting East Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m.
• The Owls placed second in the league last season with a 12-4 mark, including a 7-1 home record.
• Daniela Arenas enters the weekend with 991 career digs. With nine more, she would become the 14th player in program history to pass the 1,000 dig mark. Her 4.2 digs per set ranks seventh in Conference USA. The last Owl to reach the mark was Megan White (2008-11), as she wrapped up her career in 10th on the program's all-time list with 1,105 digs.
• Tyler Jenkins had a strong week heading into conference play, leading the Owls with 43 kills over four matches, including a career-high 18 against Bowling Green with a .389 hitting mark. In her last seven matches, the senior is averaging 3.17 kills per set and hitting 20 points over her full season average.
• Sara Blasier recorded her first double-double of the season (and the team's eighth) with 33 assists and 12 digs against Bowling Green on Saturday. Noelle Whitlock leads the Owls with three double-doubles (all kills-digs).
• One of the most consistent players in Conference USA, Jillian Humphrey leads Rice with 3.04 kills and 1.19 blocks per set in 2013. Both stats rank her among the league leaders. The junior's .253 hitting percentage also leads the Owls and she is a threat to move up the Rice career blocks chart throughout conference play.
Scouting the Blue Raiders (8-5, 0-0 Conference USA)
• Middle Tennessee plays its first league match as a Conference USA member, after posting an 8-5 mark in non-conference competition. The squad boasted a three-match winning streak before a sweep at Missouri ended the run last Saturday.
• Chelsea Ross leads the team with 3.17 kills per set and 13 aces on the season. Tyler Richardson paces the squad and ranks second in C-USA with a stout .403 hitting percentage, with 1.98 kills per set. She is also the leading blocker for the Blue Raiders, with 1.19 per set (third in C-USA) and is the reigning C-USA Offensive Player of the Week.
• Friday marks the first meeting between the programs.
The Last Meeting
October 14, 2012
Scouting the Pirates (7-8, 0-0 Conference USA)
• East Carolina fell at Howard in its final non-conference match before league play, dropping the team to 7-8 on the season. The Pirates hope to snap a three-match slide on Friday at North Texas.
• Nicole Willis leads the team and ranks second in the conference with 4.23 kills per set.
• ECU opens league play on Friday night at new member North Texas.
• Rice owns an 8-3 mark against the Pirates in 11 all-time meetings.
Noting Rice Volleyball
• Rice was the preseason pick to win C-USA by the league's 15 coaches.
• Lizzy Bache was named All-Rice Invitational I for her .404 hitting percentage, 30 kills, and four service aces in the tournament, while Jillian Humphrey picked up All-Rice Invitational II honors for her 39 kills and 11 blocks in mid-September. Humphrey was also named to the All-Bulldog Invitational team for her solid start to the season.
• Rice's non-conference schedule ranked among the toughest in the league, with an average opponent RPI of 102. Only Tulsa's was tougher among Conference USA schools.
• The Owls have played three five-set matches this season (0-3 record), including the first two matches of the year. Rice played six five set matches in all of 2012, going 3-3.
• Two times this season Rice has had four players with double figure kills in the same match: Jillian Humphrey, Megan Murphy, Chelsey Harris & Mariah Riddlesprigger against Fresno State; Noelle Whitlock, Humphrey, Lizzy Bache and Stephanie Mendivil against UALR.
• Murphy and Humphrey were selected Preseason All-C-USA.
• Rice is seeking its sixth consecutive .500-or-better season.