Volleyball Lands Five on All-C-USA Teams

Jillian Humphrey was one of five Owls named to C-USA All-Conference Teams on Tuesday.
Nov. 18, 2014

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- The Rice Owls volleyball team had four players named to the 2014 All-Conference USA teams on Tuesday, as well as one student-athlete named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team, the league office announced. 

Senior middle blocker Jillian Humphrey was named First-Team All-C-USA while sophomores Sara Blasier (setter), Chelsey Harris (outside hitter) and Leah Mikesky (outside hitter) all earned second-team honors. In addition, freshman middle blocker Portia Okafor became the seventh Owl in Rice history to be named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team. 

The four all-conference selections for the Owls were tied with Western Kentucky for the second-most selections amongst all C-USA schools. It also marked the fourth time (2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014) in the Genny Volpe era that Rice had four or more players selected to all-conference squads.  

"Having five players recognized by the C-USA coaches for all-conference shows how our team has operated all year," Rice head coach Genny Volpe said. "We have prided ourselves in a balanced attack and solid ball control. You can't have success without a strong foundation and a strong sense of team. I am very happy to see so many people recognized by the league's coaches and it shows what a strong all-around team that we have."



Humphrey, a native of Shoreacres, Texas, was selected to the first-team for the first time in her career. The middle blocker, who earned second-team honors in 2012, led all of C-USA in hitting percentage (.437) in league contests and was 44th in the nation with an overall hitting percentage of .373. Humphrey also ranked second amongst all C-USA middle blockers in kills per set (3.05) and points per set (3.83) and was third in total kills (174). Humphrey was also the only player to earn both C-USA Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week honors in 2014. The senior needs just one more block (499) this weekend to become just the second Owl in school history to tally 1,000 career kills and 500 career blocks.

"Jillian has made so many positive strides this year, and it's great to see her recognized as a first-team all-conference player," Volpe said. "She's a solid Player of the Year candidate and her focus and competitiveness to be the best has really catapulted her numbers this year. She's been so consistent and a huge part of our success this year."

Blasier, from Hartford, Wisconsin, was selected to the second-team for a second straight year. The sophomore setter backed up her All-Freshman Team selection last season by leading the league in assists per set and guiding the Owls' offense to a number one conference ranking in kills per set (14.5) (fifth in the nation) and second in the league in hitting percentage (.260). Blasier also ranked second amongst all C-USA setters in hitting percentage (.404) and was third in total kills (47) and kills per set. 

"Sara has run an offense that has been at the top of the league all year statistically," Volpe said. "Amongst all setters in C-USA, she ranks the highest in the nation in assists per set (ranked 35th). Her play has been instrumental in our success and to see her get recognized for that is great, especially since she missed four conference matches due to injury. Our team hitting efficiency is ranked 28th in the nation, and she's been key for us in making that happen."

Harris, a native of Houston, earned her first all-conference honors by rankings first amongst all outside hitters with a .343 hitting percentage. The right side hitter was also second amongst her peers in blocks per set (0.62) and third in total blocks (32).

"Chelsey is one of the most dynamic hitters in our league," Volpe said. "She has proven to be one of the top players in the league in hitting efficiency, and has been absolutely pivotal in key matches for us. She's a true terminator and can be very difficult to stop."   

Mikesky, a transfer from Florida State and a native of Schulenburg, Texas, led the Owls in total kills (369) and kills per set (3.42). She also showed her balance by rankings first amongst all C-USA outside hitters in assists (26) and assists per set (0.46). Mikesky was also fifth in digs per set (2.58) and sixth in blocks per set (0.49).

"Leah is such a key player for our team and is one of the best all-around players in the conference, so it's great that the coaches recognized that," Volpe said. "She has a unique ability to terminate the ball, but also is such a solid passer and defender. She has been a huge part of our success on both the offensive and defensive side."

Okafor combined with Humphrey to pose a talented combination at the middle of the net, rankings first amongst all freshmen in total blocks (54) and blocks per set (1.08) while ranking seventh and third, respectively, in those same categories amongst all middle blockers. The Lewisville, Texas native also ranked fifth amongst all freshmen in hitting percentage (.272).

"Portia has been one of the most dominant middles defensively all season," said Volpe. "Her poise and competitiveness is rare for a freshman, and she has been key to a lot of our success this year. I'm so glad to see her receive the recognition. Her future is so bright and it's exciting to think about the strides she has made all year and will continue to make in the future." 

The Owls (21-9, 11-5) will face Marshall on Friday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. (CT) in the opening round of the C-USA Tournament from Hattiesburg, Mississippi.




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