USM volleyball rallies to win over Rice

The Southern Miss volleyball team defeated Rice (4-14, 1-3) with a 3-2 set victory Sunday.

The Golden Eagles improved to 10-8 overall after snapping a six-match losing streak. The victory over Rice was the Eagles’ first win in Conference USA play.

Quinci Hayward was a dominant force compiling a match-high 22 kills. Jasmine Crowell added another 15 kills while Kristen Fleming posted 55 assists.

The first set was decided 25-22 in the Eagles’ favor after they jumped out to an early lead. Although Rice narrowed the margin to only two points, the Owls could not hold off the Eagles after a timeout and were outscored 5-2 in a final push.

The Eagles would start off hot again in the second set but eventually engaged in a back-and-forth lead change. The comeback wouldn’t be enough as the Owls scored seven of the final 11 points for a 25-18 set victory.

Unlike the first two sets, the Eagles started slow and wouldn’t be able to take a lead in the set. The Eagles would fall two sets to one after losing the third 25-20.

The Eagles, knowing they couldn’t lose another set, came out firing in the fourth set. Despite having six lead changes and multiple attempts for Rice to close out the match, the Eagles fought for a 25-23 win to even the match at two sets.

Following a Rice timeout in the final set, the Eagles would maintain a large lead before finally closing out the set 15-8 and win the match.

Southern Miss will host two C-USA matches at Reed Green Coliseum this weekend. The Eagles will play the UTSA Roadrunners (12-6, 4-0) Friday, Oct. 11. and the UTEP Miners (9-6, 3-1) Sunday, Oct. 13.

It could be a rough weekend for the Eagles as the Roadrunners and Miners have both played well throughout the early going of conference play.