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Tulsa Defeats Rice in Five-Game Thriller

Senior Fabiola Nepomuceno posted 27 kills to help lead TU past Rice on Sunday, 3-2.
Senior Fabiola Nepomuceno posted 27 kills to help lead TU past Rice on Sunday, 3-2.
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Donald W. Reynolds Center

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Oct. 7, 2007

Box Score

Tulsa, Okla. - In what is becoming the norm, The University of Tulsa and Rice University volleyball teams went five games in the third consecutive meeting. Both match-ups during the 2006 season were extended to five stanzas. The Golden Hurricane has won all three, including a 3-2 (29-31, 30-28, 30-27, 22-30. 15-11) victory on Sunday afternoon.

A crowd of 117 watched the Golden Hurricane win its 18th straight Conference USA match at home. Only Louisville and USF have had a better home start to C-USA play by winning their first 26 and 21 home league matches, respectively. Tulsa has won 15 consecutive matches total, dating back to last season.

Senior Fabiola Nepomuceno led a trio of Hurricane hitters with double-figure kill performances with 27 kills. She also had a career high 96 attempts. Freshmen Emma Ridley and Hannah Stout contributed 15 and 11 kills, respectively for the Hurricane. Senior Julia Silva posted 57 assists, while junior Malorey Grove led the way with a match-high 36 digs.

After TU opened the first game of the match off with a service error, a long rally set the tone for the match as the ball went over the net 14 times before the Owls were able to take a 2-0 lead. Tulsa seemed to seize the momentum with a 6-1 run, however Rice tied the match at 8-8. After TU took a 12-9 lead, Rice used a 6-1 run to take the lead for good at 15-13. A kill gave Rice its biggest lead at 25-20. The Hurricane battled back to tie the contest at 28-28 on a kill by Stout. Rice used a pair of kill and a service ace to seal the win.

Tulsa scored the first point of the second game on a Nepomuceno kill, as the team that scored first won all five games of the match. The teams traded points through the beginning, until Rice took a 12-8. TU would make a run of its own to tie the match at 13-13, one of 10 ties in the game. The Hurricane went on a 6-1 run, sandwiched between kills by Ridley and Nepomuceno, to take a 21-16 lead. The Owls cut the lead to one at 29-28, before Nepomuceno ended the game with a kill.



TU blew out to a 6-1 lead after the break, highlighted by a pair of kills and a pair of service aces by Kelsey Wood. Tulsa would not relinquish the lead, although Rice would cut the lead to one on three occasions. The TU seniors helped the Hurricane take a 2-1 lead in the match, as Nepomuceno posted five kills and Silva recorded a pair of kills and a pair of blocks.

Rice scored the first blow of the fourth contest, however TU appeared to buck the trend as the Hurricane took a 17-14 lead on a service ace by Nepomuceno. A kill by Stout would extend TU's lead to 21-18. After a service ace tied the score at 21-21 for the Owls, TU called a timeout to stop the bleeding. However, Rice had seized the momentum, riding it all the way to the end on a 13-1 run. Of the Owl's final 13 points, five were off of TU attack errors while two more were off reception errors.

The final stanza appeared to be over as soon as it began, as Rice raced out to an 8-3 lead. However, when the teams changed sides of the court, so did the momentum. A 5-0 run for the Hurricane knotted the score at 8-8 on a kill by Ridley. Stout would tie the game again at 10-10 with a kill. Sout would record another kill as well as a block, while setting up Nepomuceno's match winning kill.

Tulsa improves to 16-5 on the season, 4-2 during league play. Rice falls to 8-10 overall and 3-3 in C-USA play. The Golden Hurricane will hit the road for a of league matches next weekend at UCF and Southern Miss. TU returns to the friendly confines of the Reynolds Center on Oct. 19, to host SMU at 7 p.m.