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Friday, May 27, 2022 — Houston, TX

Volleyball splits conference matches on the road

By Daniel Elledge     9/30/10 7:00pm

While the 3-1 record the volleyball team compiled during their brief stay in Houston could make any Owl fan feel optimistic, the true mettle of the team was revealed during the team's journey to Hattiesburg, Miss. to take on conference rival the University of Southern Mississippi (8-5, 1-1 C-USA). In their first meeting with Southern Miss on Friday, the Owls had their way, as they won three of four games 25-23, 25-20, and 25-22 for a 3-1 victory. Their only game lost was a narrow 25-20 win for the Golden Eagles. Junior outside hitter Ashleigh McCord led the team with 14 kills while sophomore outside hitter Laurie McNamara added 12 kills. Senior setter Meredith Schamun led the team with 37 assists while senior libero Tracey Lam had 23 digs.

On Saturday, the Golden Eagles fought back to split the weekend's matches. The Owls won the first set in dominating fashion, 25-17, before going on to lose the next three 23-25, 17-25 and 24-26 to lead to a 3-1 loss. McCord led the team with 19 kills while junior outside hitter Jordan Meredith had 13. Lam had 20 digs while Schamun racked up 52 assists in a powerful performance. The weekend split in Hattiesburg leaves the Owls with a 7-8 record overall and a 2-1 start in Conference USA.

Head Coach Genny Volpe said she is confident that her team can build on their decent start to conference play and fight for the conference title that she feels will go down to the wire.

"We are really improving our game and our confidence," Volpe said. "This team has been really fun to watch and grow. The conference will be tight, as there are some really good teams we will be playing against, but we have a lot of strong weapons as well so we are pretty fired up about the conference season."

Junior outside hitter Megan White has the same confidence as Volpe does, as she thinks Rice could take the regular season conference title.

"I envision winning the conference," White said. "I think we are starting to get on a roll and we are starting to find our niche and we are all excited to play University of Texas-El Paso and University of Central Florida this weekend. I definitely see us winning the conference if we stay consistent."

The Owls' focus now shifts to two important games this weekend, as they host UTEP (10-5, 2-0 C-USA) at Tudor Fieldhouse today and travel to Orlando, Fla. to play UCF (7-7, 0-2 C-USA) on Sunday. The Owls have been consistently good against both the Miners and the Golden Knights, as they are 8-0 and 4-1 against them, respectively, in the last five years. UTEP has started off strong this year with a 10-5 overall record and 2-0 in conference. UCF is going in the opposite direction, with a 0-2 record in conference, 7-7 overall.

Volpe knows that UTEP's hot start is no fluke and it will be tough for Rice to penetrate their defense.

"UTEP always has good defense," Volpe said. "They are a very good defensive team and they are scrappy."

More importantly for Volpe, though, the team needs to work on its own problems before it can entirely focus on its opponents.

"I think right now we need to work on our serve and be aggressive against UTEP and everyone else," Volpe said. "We need to improve on our serve if we want to beat anybody. We just have to get more aggressive, yet smart at the same time."

Volpe understands the excitement about the 2-1 start in conference, but she realizes that this season is going to be a marathon and that there will be no easy matches for the rest of the season.

"All the teams in Conference USA are competitive, so we just have to take it one game at a time and stay strong and healthy.

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