Preview: Volleyball to Face Rice in Opening Round of C-USA Championship

Seniors Chandace Tryon, Abby Simmons

Nov. 15, 2012

  Houston vs. Rice - C-USA Championship | Tulsa, Okla. | 5:00 p.m. CT - Friday, Nov. 16
vs. Rice  GameTracker | Live Video
Conference USA Championship  Championship Central
Information  Conference USA Notebook | Twitter (@UHCougarVB)

HOUSTON — The University of Houston volleyball team sets its sights on continuing the 2012 season as it opens play at the Conference USA Championship at 5 p.m. Friday against No. 2-seed Rice at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on the campus of Tulsa.

Houston enters the league tournament after wrapping up the regular season with an 8-18 overall record and a 7-9 mark in C-USA play. The Cougars will look to rebound after dropping their last two regular season contests on the road at SMU and Tulsa.

Houston is led offensively by senior and First Team All-Conference honoree Katie Norris’ 368 kills and 3.83 kills/set. Fellow senior and Second Team All-Conference player Chandace Tryon leads the team with a .307 attacking percentage and is second-best with 247 kills, while senior Stephanie Nwachukwu and All-Freshman team honoree Emily Howard add 184 and 135 kills, respectively. Senior setter Abby Simmons paces the offense with 876 assists and a team-high 17 service aces. On the defensive end, sophomore libero Natalie Keck leads the Cougars with 352 digs, while Tryon contributes with 105 total blocks. Houston leads Conference USA-only games in blocks/set with 2.58 and blocks allowed, holding its opponents to 1.54 per set.

Rice enters the Conference USA Championship with a 19-11 overall record and a 12-4 mark in league play, while finishing second during the regular season. The Owls have won six of their last eight games, but one loss included a 3-1 fall to Houston on Oct. 26. Rice is led offensively by Nancy Cole’s 376 kills and a .328 attacking percentage, while Megan Murphy adds 1,1211 assists for a C-USA best.

Eight of the league’s 12 teams will meet in Tulsa this coming weekend with play set to begin at Noon on Friday and continue until Sunday afternoon with the championship game slated for 1 p.m.

Two-time defending champion Tulsa (14-2) will enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed, while Rice (12-4) and UCF (11-5) will play as the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively. UAB (11-5), UTEP (10-6), Marshall (8-8), Houston (7-9) and SMU (7-9) round out seeds 4-8.

Houston earned the tie-breaker over SMU as head-to-head play determined the final two seeds with the Cougars earning a 4-3 advantage over the Mustangs in the two regular season matches.

All eight teams will play one match each on Friday. The C-USA Championship format is single elimination with four teams advancing to Saturday’s semifinals and two on Sunday in the Championship game.

The C-USA Championship returns after a two-year hiatus. The winner of this year’s tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

For complete Championship information, scores, notes, and links visit the C-USA Championship Central at: http://www.conferenceusa.com/championships/w-volley-championship-12.html.

The quarterfinals and semifinals of the 2012 C-USA Volleyball Championship will be available for viewing exclusively on the C-USA Digital Network. Current subscribers to the C-USA Digital Network can click on the watch links here and enter your password information to view games. For new subscribers, The C-USA Digital Network combines streaming audio and video content from all 12 member institutions to provide the most thorough coverage of Conference USA athletics anywhere in the world. Sign-up now to access live game broadcasts, exclusive behind-the-scenes video, game highlights, original programming and press conferences from 25 men's and women's sports across the league, with additional coverage from conference postseason tournaments and events. Fans only looking for access to a single school's content can still subscribe to just that school on monthly and annual renewing terms. To learn more about the C-USA Digital Network, click here.

· C-USA Digital Network Monthly - $14.95

· C-USA Digital Network Yearly - $119.95

· Subscribe Now to C-USA Digital Network

For fans wishing to purchase tickets at the C-USA Championship, click here for more information. 

Follow Houston Volleyball on Twitter @UHCougarVB and “Like” /HoustonCougarVolleyball on Facebook.





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