Rice’s career nears end as another begins


Kurt Montgomery

Senior Erin Rice plays in her last home game as a Missouri Southern athlete during volleyball’s senior night game against Central Missouri.

Another season ends for the Missouri Southern volleyball team, and for some players, it’s also the end of their college athletic career. One of those graduating seniors is a familiar face to the Lions sports fans — but not from the volleyball court.

“Erin was a great basketball player as well as volleyball player coming out of high school, so it was no surprise that she would still have the passion to play volleyball if given the opportunity,” said Ronda Hubbard, the women’s basketball team interim head coach. Hubbard was the assistant coach when Rice was on the basketball team.

Rice was a three-year starter on the basketball as well as volleyball teams at Cole Camp High School where she was a three-time all-conference along with a two-time all-district pick, and also helped her team to three consecutive district championships.

“After playing four years in high school and being on a very successful team, I knew I could play volleyball in college, but my love was for basketball,” Rice said. “I decided to play volleyball when I knew that I had to continue my education another year and had the opportunity to bring a different atmosphere and attitude to Southern volleyball.”

The only similarity between basketball and volleyball is the floor it is played on. One could imagine how difficult going from one sport to a totally different sport could be.

“One thing that I have struggled with the most is the ability to be in control of the game,” Rice said. “There are so many things that can happen in volleyball that don’t involve a single individual. It definitely takes the teamwork aspect of the game to another level.” Rice has had to learn much about the game on the go and, as Rice said, “I still am learning.”

Rice pointed out the atmosphere is one of the biggest differences between her two sports.

She said, “The atmosphere in volleyball is more laid back. When an exciting play takes place you get about five seconds to celebrate and then you have to calm down and get prepared for the next play. In basketball, the momentum is based on how well you can maintain the excitement and continue to use it in the way you play.”

Rice’s list of achievements after a standout career for the Lion’s basketball team is impressive. She is a three-time All-MIAA athlete, who played 108 career games with 78 starts in her four-year career as a Lion. She also averaged 11.3 points per game and finished her career with 1,220 points placing her ninth all-time in program history for career points.

“Erin was an integral part of one of our most successful teams at MSSU,” said Hubbard. “She clearly had a great career with the stats she put up with her four years on the court.”

Rice will graduate in May with a physical education degree. She plans to teach elementary physical education in addition to coaching.

“I would prefer to coach basketball because I understand the sport much better, but if given the opportunity, I would also coach volleyball,” said Rice.

“Erin comes from a great family and has been a stellar student here at MSSU. There is no doubt that she exhibits the qualities to be successful in anything she chooses,” said Hubbard.