#24 USC Wins Tournament With Win Over Rice

  0 Carly DeMarque | September 11th, 2016 | College - Women's Indoor, Division I Mid-Major, News, Pac 12

Match Stats

No. 24-ranked USC took down Rice in four sets to take the Rice Adidas Invitational I title with scores of 25-18, 21-25, 25-12, 25-23. This is the sixth consecutive win for the Trojans.

Led by senior middle blocker Elise Ruddins, named the MVP of the tournament, who put down 12 kills and posted and astounding .688 hitting percentage and a career-high nine blocks. Freshman Khalia Lanier recorded the fifth double-double of her career with 17 kills and 13 digs.

USC held Rice to a .147 hitting percentage as they picked up 74 digs for the match, while they hit for .306 in the match.

Senior Leah Mikesky became the 16th Owl to reach the 1,000 kill mark with a double-double in the match, posting 17 kills and 12 digs. Freshman libero Lee Ann Cunningham was selected to the all-tournament team after picking up 24 digs, recording 54 in the three matches for the weekend.

USC heads back home to host the Pac-12 Challenge, facing Oklahoma and Maryland Sept. 15-16. Rice hosts Texas Tech on Wednesday, Spet. 14 at 7pm.

Press Releases

Courtesy of USC Athletics

HOUSTON — The No. 24-ranked USC women’s volleyball team (6-3) defeated Rice (4-6) in four sets, 25-18, 21-25, 25-12, 25-23, to claim the Rice Adidas Invitational I title at the Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday, Sept. 10. It was the sixth consecutive victory for the Women of Troy, led by senior middle blocker Elise Ruddins, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

Ruddins was chosen to the all-tournament team with junior opposite hitter Brittany Abercrombie and freshman outside hitter Khalia Lanier. Against the Owls, Ruddins had a season-high 12 kills (1e, 16att) for a .688 hitting percentage to go with a career-high nine blocks (one solo), three digs, and a service ace. Lanier secured her fifth double-double of the season with 17 kills (4e, 59att, .220) and 13 digs to go with three blocks for a match-high 18.5 points. Abercrombie had 10 kills (4e, 24att, .250) and four blocks.

Junior opposite hitter Niki Withers was the fourth Trojan to reach double digits in kills and finished with 10 without an error (19att) for a .526 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Alyse Ford was held in check to start the match but finished with eight kills (3e, 30att), 14 digs, and four blocks. Junior middle blocker Jordan Dunn had four kills (0e, 10att) for a .400 hitting rate and five blocks.

The Women of Troy hit .306 in the match (61k, 12e, 160att) and got a career-best 29 assists from junior setter Reni Meyer-Whalley, who also had six digs. Senior setter Alice Pizzasegola put together her seventh-career double-double with 23 assists and 10 digs. The Trojans’ defensive leader was senior libero Taylor Whittingham who had 25 digs to go with a service ace.

USC had a season-high 14 blocks and dug up 74 balls to hold the Owls to a .147 hitting rate (53k, 28e, 170att). Leah Mikesky had 17 kills (9e, 71att, .113) and 12 digs for Rice. Chelsey Harris had 15 kills (8e, 32att, .219) and Portia Okafor finished with 10 kills (4e, 23att, .261) and a team-high three blocks. Lee Ann Cunningham led with 24 digs and Madison McDaniel dished out 44 assists.

The Trojans hit .368 (18k, 4e, 38att) in the opening frame and came away with a 25-18 win. USC led by as many as 10 points at 21-11 and 23-13, but the Owls scored four straight and successfully staved off a set point before Lanier’s kill closed the books on the first set. USC’s early second-set lead was not nearly good enough to hold off Rice as the teams traded the lead three times and were tied for a seventh time at 17-all. A 4-0 run by the Owls did the Trojans in as Rice completed a 25-21 win.

USC returned to the court with a vengeance in the third set and walked out to a 16-9 lead when Dunn and Withers teamed up for a block. The Trojans pushed for and got a 10-point lead at 21-11 on a kill by Abercrombie before Ford slammed the door for a 2-1 USC lead with her kill. The Women of Troy carried that momentum into the fourth set and built another six-point lead at 15-9. USC led by six again at 19-13, but the Owls flew back into the match and closed to within a point at 23-22. Withers gave the Trojans match point with her kill before Ford and Ruddins rejected an attack by Harris for the final point of the match.

The Trojans return home to host the Pac-12 Challenge next week (Sept. 15-16) at Galen Center. USC will face Oklahoma and Maryland in a pair of matches each set for 8 p.m. PT starts on Pac-12 Networks.

For more information on the USC women’s volleyball team and a complete schedule and results, please visit USCTrojans.com. To purchase season and single-match tickets, please visit USCTrojans.com/tickets today. Fans of the Women of Troy can follow @USCWomensVolley on Periscope, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.


  • USC won its first-ever meeting with Rice.
  • The Trojans claimed the Rice Adidas Invitational title with a 3-0 record on the weekend.
  • The Women of Troy extended their winning streak to six consecutive matches.
  • USC improved to 3-0 in matches played in the city of Houston.
  • Senior MB Elise Ruddins, junior OPP Brittany Abercrombie, and freshman OH Khalia Lanier were chosen to the all-tournament team. Ruddins was named MVP of the tourney.
  • The USC victory brings head coach Mick Haley just two wins from reaching his 400th at USC (398-98). It also puts the program at just five wins from reaching the 1,000-win threshold.
  • Five Trojans scored double-digit points; four reached double digits in kills, and four reached double digits in digs.
  • Ruddins had a career-high nine blocks (one solo) and a career-best .688 hitting percentage (12-1-16).
  • Lanier logged her fifth double-double of the season with 17 kills and 13 digs.
  • Junior OPP Niki Withers set a new career mark with a .526 hitting percentage (10-0-19).
  • Senior L Taylor Whittingham had 25 digs for her eighth match in double digits this season; her third over the 20-dig mark.
  • Senior S Alice Pizzasegola had her first double-double of the season with 23 assists and 10 digs; the seventh of her career.

Press Release

Courtesy of Rice Athletics

HOUSTON – On a night where Leah Mikesky became the 16th member of the 1,000 career kills club, the Rice Owls gave the No. 24 USC Trojans quite the fight but ultimately fell short in a 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 25-12, 25-23) loss Saturday evening in the finale of the Rice Adidas Invite I tournament.

After dropping the opening set 25-18, the Owls rallied back to take the second set 25-21. USC came out of intermission and put the clamps on the Rice offensive attack en route to a 25-12 victory. The Owls looked primed to force a fifth set for the second time on Saturday after trimming a big USC lead to 23-22, but the Trojans were able to close out the game 25-23.

Mikesky picked up her third consecutive double-double with 17 kills and 12 digs and notched the historic 1,000th career kill in Rice’s second set victory. Rice freshman libero Lee Ann Cunningham was selected afterwards to the Rice Adidas Invite I All-Tournament team following another 20-plus digs performance. The Louisville, Ky. native posted a team-best 24 digs Saturday evening and had 54 total digs in three matches this weekend.

The Owls also got 15 kills from senior Chelsey Harris along with 10 kills from junior middle blocker Portia Okafor.

USC (6-3) outhit Rice .306 to .147 for the match and posted 14.0 team blocks. The Trojans had four players with 10 or more kills, including a team-high 17 from All-Tournament selectee Khalia Lanier.

Rice will continue its nine match homestand on Wednesday, Sept. 14 when they host the Texas Tech Red Raiders at 7 p.m.

Rice Adidas Invite I All-Tournament Team

MVP- Elise Ruddins USC

Khalia Lanier- USC

Brittany Abercrombie- USC

Breanna Homer – SHSU

Amanda Gooch – SHSU

Lee Ann Cunningham – Rice

Sammy Condon – Oakland

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About Carly DeMarque

Carly DeMarque

Carly DeMarque has been involved with competitive volleyball for the majority of her life, playing competitively at the club and collegiate level for 15 years and coaching club for five. Now a retired Division I volleyball athlete out of McNeese State University, she continues her volleyball enthusiasm by stepping back into …

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