No. 24 Trojans Fry Rice For Adidas Invitational Title|
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Sept. 10, 2016
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.