HOUSTON, Texas -- The No. 2-seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles begin their 2016 Conference USA Volleyball Championships journey Friday against North Texas at 7 p.m.
The entire tournament, hosted by Rice, will be broadcasted on CUSA.tv.
Southern Miss (22-7, 11-3 C-USA) defeated North Texas 3-1 in both meetings this year, both at home and in Denton. The Golden Eagles have their highest seed entering the field since winning the outright regular-season title in 2009, helped by a current six-match win streak and nine victories of the past 10 outings.
Last year's tournament saw Southern Miss defeat Rice 3-1 in the first round after the Owls got the sweep in the lone regular-season meeting. In head coach Amanda Berkley's three previous years on staff, the Golden Eagles have moved on to the semifinals twice. All C-USA Tournament opponents in that span were Texas schools.
North Texas (13-16, 7-7) is the No. 7 seed. The Golden Eagles tallied 13 service aces in the previous head-to-head meeting, marking their most since 2006. Stephany Purdue tallied 30 kills in the two matches while Natalie Druhan had five aces. Catherine Repsher posted nine blocks.
The Golden Eagles finished the regular season ranked in the C-USA's offensive and defensive top three for hitting percentage, kills, aces, assists. Also in conference action, five from the Southern Miss squad were represented on the All-Conference team, the best representation of any team in the league (including No. 6 with Repsher on the All-Freshman team). On Thursday, Repsher became the school's first league Freshman of the Year.
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