Ole Miss Volleyball looks to continue its hot start to the season as the team travels to Atlanta this weekend for Georgia State’s GSU Invitational.
The Rebels, currently 6-1, have key nonconference wins over Virginia, Oregon State and Ohio State. Their only loss thus far came on the road at the hands of then No. 21 Iowa State. The team is hoping to build a strong nonconference resume before entering SEC play Sept. 21 at No. 8 Florida.
“We have defeated every team in the (SEC) over the past four years, with the exception of Kentucky and Florida,” head coach Steven McRoberts said.
The Rebels will play Chicago State at 3 p.m. Friday in Atlanta. The Cougars are 4-4 on the season, but are coming off of three wins in a row, including back-to-back shutouts against Delaware and UIC. However, a fairly weak team in the Western Athletic Conference, Chicago State should be an easy opener to the Rebels’ weakest tournament of the season. The Cougars do have a fairly tall team, however, with all of their middle blockers standing at or above 6 feet.
On Saturday, Ole Miss will play a doubleheader versus Sam Houston State at 9 a.m. and Georgia State at 5:30 p.m.
Sam Houston State enters this tournament 3-3 on the season after dropping two in a row to Houston and Louisiana-Lafayette. The Bearkats, yes Bearkats with a “k,” are playing their only game of the season against a Power Five opponent. In a matchup of misfit mascots, Tony the Landshark should have the upper hand on Sammy Bearkat.
The final game of the weekend for the Rebels comes against Georgia State, which enters the tournament 2-4 on the season. After failing to pick up a single set in the Rambler Challenge, the Panthers look to rebound against Sam Houston State and Chicago State before playing Ole Miss in the final game of the weekend. The Panthers won their only other game of the season versus a Power Five school on Aug. 25, when they upset Mississippi State in Starkville.
“This is a time of the season where the team is a little tired. Lots of practices in the preseason and, now, two weekends in a row playing a lot of long matches,” McRoberts said. “Our team is playing with a lot of confidence right now. We are expecting to have another good weekend, so hopefully, we can come back with another tournament title.”
The Rebels should come out of the weekend with three wins and set themselves up nicely to face Memphis on Tuesday and compete in the Rice Tournament next weekend. With the toughest part of their nonconference schedule over, the Rebels have a good chance of being 13-1 heading into SEC play, which would be the Rebels’ best start to a season since 2015, when they entered SEC play 14-1.