WKU falls to Rice in the Conference USA Championship

Rice vs WKU 2022 Tournament Championship
Published: Nov. 20, 2022 at 10:00 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU fell to Rice in the fifth set (25-22, 22-25, 25-22, 28-26, 11-15) as the Owls claim the Conference USA Championship, ending the Hilltoppers’ win streak and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

With Rice leaving the conference next season, the final C-USA Championship between Rice and WKU took place Sunday afternoon.

This is the 4th straight championship meeting between the owls and the Hilltoppers with WKU winning them all and the last five games total between the two.

Lauren Matthews led with 27 kills and four blocks. Paige Briggs followed with 20 kills, 17 digs, two aces and two blocks. Katie Isenbarger finished with 10 kills, three aces, and eight blocks.

WKU controlled the first set the whole way, leading 15-8at one point. Lauren Matthews ended the set with kill. Wku went up 1-0.

Then in the second rice was dominating until the Hilltoppers went on a big run to pull within one but the owls were able to win after this serve error from Katie Isenbarger.

But in the third set, she makes up for it after sparking a huge 12-4 run at the service line that included three aces...Giving WKU a sizeable lead before Kenadee Coyle puts it away with the dump kill. 2-1 Tops.

In the 4th we had to go to extra set points with WKU up one...the Owls send one flying out of bounds. The Tops think they’ve won the set and the game but it was tipped, giving Rice the point. The owls would go on to win the fourth with the block attempt flying out of bounds.

Another fifth set would decide it between these two teams.

In the final set, the Owls were able to break down the Hilltoppers. On the final play, Paige Briggs sends it flying but it lands out of bounds.

The Owls win the Conference USA championship, ending the Hilltoppers’ win streak, and earn an automatic bid to the n-c-a-a tournament.