Despite having an early lead, Ole Miss volleyball lost 3-2 on Sunday afternoon against the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks, dropping its record to 14-11 (5-7) on the season.
The loss was a frustrating one for an Ole Miss team hoping to separate itself from the middle of the SEC pack. This was its third 3-2 loss in conference play and second loss to Arkansas, who won another close match in Fayetteville earlier this season.
The Rebels were led by senior outside hitter Kate Gibson, who posted Ole Miss’ first triple-double since 2012. Gibson earned 18 kills, 14 digs and 11 blocks as she fought to keep the Rebels in the game.
“I didn’t realize I had it until Max said something,” Gibson said. “Stinks that we didn’t get the win with it, but that’s a really big achievement for myself, and I couldn’t have done it alone, so props to my teammates, too.”
The Rebels dropped a back-and-forth first set that included eight tied scores and three lead changes. The Rebels ultimately fell 25-21 after Arkansas stepped up defensively and held its hosts to a .088 hitting percentage.
Ole Miss rallied well, though, and cruised through the second set, taking an 11-3 lead and never looking back. Gibson and middle blockers Nayo Warnell and Bayleigh Scott notched block after block before securing the set with a final score of 25-19.
The Rebels’ momentum from the second set continued into the third as they jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Despite an inspired Razorback effort, Ole Miss went on a 10-4 run in the middle of the set, giving the Rebels a 22-12 lead that eventually turned into a 25-16 win.
Entering the fourth set with a chance to close out the day, Ole Miss once again roared to an early 7-2 lead. But the Razorbacks held on, forcing tied scores at 19, 20, 22 and 23 before stringing a pair of points together at the end. Arkansas took the fourth, 25-23.
Ole Miss suddenly found itself facing a momentum-driven Razorback team in the fifth and final set. Arkansas went ahead 10-5 after driving home seven kills and committing just one error in 10 attempts. Despite Ole Miss’ efficient .333 hitting percentage, the Razorback effort was too much to overcome. Arkansas rallied, taking the set and game via a decisive 15-11 victory.
“We felt like we could close them out, and (there were) just some small things, some detail things that we just neglected to do that we were doing earlier in the match,” head coach Steven McRoberts said. “We just kind of lost our way a little bit, and it just kind of snowballed on us.”
The Rebels did record a high number of blocks throughout the day, finishing with 18 to Arkansas’ nine. On the other side, Arkansas showed out and beat the Rebels, normally one of the top defensive teams in the SEC, in number of digs. Ole Miss, it seemed, simply could not do enough Sunday. Its efforts were countered by an inspired Arkansas team led by staunch back-row defenders.
Ole Miss will now pivot and focus on an upcoming rivalry bout with Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, in the Gillom Sports Center.