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Katherine Wright | NCAA.com | September 18, 2019

College volleyball: Rice upsets No. 3 Texas in nail-biting five-setter

Florida and Oklahoma headline this week's volleyball top plays

Two match points — that's all that stood in the way of Rice making history. 

Nicole Lennon's final two kills pushed Rice women's volleyball (10-1) past No. 3 Texas (5-2) in five sets (25-22, 25-18, 13-25, 14-25, 15-13). Her 23 kills on the night continued her three-game streak of 20 or more.

Texas' only other loss of the season came in five sets against then-No. 1 Stanford, the reigning national champion. 

TOP-2 SHOWDOWN: No. 2 Stanford beats No. 1 Nebraska in rematch of 2018 national championship

Rice came out firing against a Texas program it hadn't beaten in 36 previous head-to-head meetings. Hitting .229 to the Longhorns' .205, the Owls won the first set, 25-22. And it proved to be a debilitating blow to the Longhorns, who entered the second set flat, just crossing the positive hitting threshold at .026 in another dropped set. 

The Owls lost some accuracy as play continued, hitting -.094 in the third set and .143 in the fourth set while committing 16 attack errors during this span. Advantage Longhorns, as they pulled away, 25-13 and 25-14 to even up the match. Texas' .516 hitting percentage in the fourth set was the strongest performance for either team on the night.

But it was the Owls' .375 hitting percentage, Lennon's offensive aggression and capitalization on Texas' service errors that propelled Rice to the historic upset over a top-5 opponent. Lennon's 23 kills and 25 points led all Owls while Grace Morgan finished with a team-leading five blocks.

No. 21 Purdue outlasts No. 16 Kentucky

SCOREBOARD: Track Top 25 teams and other matches here

No. 21 Purdue (5-1) picked up its second victory over a top-25 opponent in the past week with a five-set (25-21, 20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-8) win over No. 16 Kentucky (6-4).

The Boilermakers clinched the upset with a dominating final set. While Caitlyn Newton led Purdue with 24 kills — three of which came in the fourth set — Kentucky was handcuffed by an inaccurate offensive performance, hitting -.042 to finish out the match. Six attack errors to Purdue's three put the Wildcats in a hole, one they would not climb out of.

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