The Southern Miss volleyball team dropped its weekend home match against Rice in five sets on Oct. 7.
“I think it was a great match,” Head Coach Stephanie Radecki said. “I think both teams played really hard. I think we saw some really good volleyball, and it’s just disappointing that we ended up on the losing side. I think both teams did a great job today.”
Southern Miss is now 2-5 in matches that have gone to five sets this season. Notably, those losses were to Ohio State, Ole Miss, No. 15 Purdue, reigning conference champions Western Kentucky and now C-USA first place leader Rice.
Southern Miss opened the match with a 25-22 win in the first set. The Golden Eagles trailed by a score of 4-2 early, but broke away with a 5-1 run that put them ahead 19-14. The Owls battled back and tied the set at 22, but Southern Miss was able to close the set with a 3-0 run.
In the second set, Rice took a 15-11 lead. A kill by senior Alexis Coombs started a 4-0 run that helped the Golden Eagles tie the set at 16-16. A pair of errors by the Owls allowed for Southern Miss to take an 18-16 lead, its first lead of the set. Rice battled back and took the lead back at 22-19. Southern Miss put together a 4-0 run and cut the deficit to 22-21, but the Owls persevered and closed the game with a 25-22 win.
The momentum stayed with Rice in the third set as it opened the set with a 6-1 lead and extended its lead to 19-9. Southern Miss rallied back and cut the deficit to 23-17, but it was not enough as Rice took a 2-1 lead in the match and won the set 25-17.
Southern Miss battled back in the fourth set and opened with an 8-4 lead. Rice closed the game and tied it at 16-16, but Southern Miss was able to hold on and win the set 25-22. In the final set, Rice jumped to an 8-3 lead. Southern Miss was able to and cut the Rice lead to 9-7 but the rally fell short and the team dropped the final set 15-12.
“I think we’ve played some really strong teams if you want to focus on something positive, I think we’ve played top 25 teams and really battled and played some great volleyball,” Radecki said. “You just have to be prepared to play at a high level. I think we’re doing that it’s just a matter of just completing the match and finishing.”
Senior Kylie Grandy led the team with 28 kills, and senior Sarah Bell finished the match with 29 digs and 51 assists. Bell is now over 4,000 assists and 1,000 digs in her career, making her the third Southern Miss player to accomplish that feat. Bell is just 48 assists away from being No.1 in all-time assists in Southern Miss history.
“Those two specifically have done great things for the program,” Radecki said. “They have won a lot of games. They have produced a lot and I can’t say enough about those two. They are two of the best players I’ve ever coached.”
Southern Miss will play Louisiana Tech on Oct. 14 in Reed Green Coliseum