HOUSTON – The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Volleyball team captured the program’s first ranked win in 10 years – and the first Top 20 win of the century (and rally scoring era) – with a resounding straight sets sweep (25-17, 25-22, 25-19) win over No. 18 Rice on Tuesday, August 29 at Tudor Fieldhouse.

Louisiana (3-1) out-hustled the host-Owls (2-1) with a swarming defense that kept several plays alive and forced them into numerous costly attack errors, limiting Rice to a paltry .060 hitting percentage and 24 attack errors on 117 attempts.

The one-two punch of Shyia Richardson’s 12 kills and Celeste Darling’s nine kills paced a Cajuns offense that generated 37 kills on a crisp .248 hitting percentage.

The all-around effort resulted in Louisiana claiming the first ranked win of the Kristi Gray era and the program’s first since October 2013 vs. WKU at Earl K. Long Gym.

It was the defense pressuring Rice into three straight attack errors to set the tone early in Set 1, opening an 8-4 lead. The Owls rallied to take a 10-9 lead, but Cami Hicks punctuated a role reversal with a kill and block to expand the Cajuns lead to 15-11.

Richardson took charge after Rice closed within 17-15, tooling the block out for a key side out, getting a touch call to make it 21-16 and netting set point with back-to-back scores from the back row.

Darling tapped a shot over the block for the fifth consecutive winner as Louisiana erased an early deficit in Set 2 and broke free for a 9-5 advantage. Later it was Richardson scoring to spark a quick three-point spurt that put UL comfortably ahead 16-9.

Rice made a late push in an attempt to even the match, cutting the UL lead to 24-22 after an Emilia Weske kill. The Owls efforts to force extra point was spoiled by an unsuccessful challenge that gave Louisiana set point and the 2-0 match lead.

The Ragin’ Cajuns landed the first three points of the third set and never looked back, quickly sprinting out to an 11-4 lead capped off by a block from Richardson and Kara Barnes. Down the stretch it was Darling tooling the block once again to provide additional breathing room at 21-17.

Richardson continued her season-opening streak of consecutive matches with double-figure kills and was one dig shy of a double-double.

Freshman libero Kennedy Gustafson led the way with 14 digs. She was joined in double digits by Siena DeCambra who added 13 digs to the 27 assists she handed out.

Hicks led the group effort on the front line with a pair of blocks and also served up a pair of aces.

The Ragin’ Cajuns early season travels take them to Lubbock, Texas for the Red Raider Classic hosted by Texas Tech at the United Supermarkets Arena from Friday-Saturday, September 1-2.

Louisiana begins play in Lubbock on Friday at 4:30 p.m. against Texas A&M-Commerce, then concludes the visit playing a Saturday doubleheader with matches against Wyoming at 11:30 a.m. and Texas Tech at 7:00 p.m.

All matches in the Red Raider Classic will be streamed on ESPN+. Live stats can be accessed at CajunStats.com.