Ole Miss volleyball finished its season in a positive fashion with a 3-1 win over South Carolina last week, capping off a solid year of improvement for head coach Steven McRoberts’ squad.
The Rebels closed out the year with a final record of 17-14 and a conference record of 8-10, good for eighth in the SEC and tying their best conference record since 2012. The Rebels continued to separate themselves from the conference bottom-dwellers this season as they pushed to compete with top-level teams like Florida and Kentucky. Despite the lack of a breakthrough victory, they consistently took care of business against teams with less talent. They also swept in-state rival Mississippi State 2-0 while suffering a number of hard-fought losses to conference foes.
The Rebels were led throughout the season by seniors Kate Gibson and Lexi Thompson. Both have etched their names in the record books and left their marks on the Ole Miss volleyball program. Gibson finished the season leading the SEC in double-doubles with 20, while she and Thompson both became members of the 1,000 kill/1,000 dig club over the length of their careers. Thompson also holds the school record for most career kills, most career service aces and most single-season kills while also holding the third-most career digs. Gibson added to her career totals this season, finishing sixth all-time in kills and digs.
Plenty of other Ole Miss players stepped up down the stretch; the Rebels were a balanced team that relied on contributions from every part of the lineup. Sophomore middle blocker Nayo Warnell was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 6 after her excellent performances in victories over Mississippi State and Georgia. Ole Miss was also the only SEC school to have three players with 300 kills, as sophomore Emily Stroup joined Thompson and Gibson in reaching the milestone. It was also the only SEC school to have three players record 300 digs, as junior Caroline Adams also joined Thompson and Gibson.
Despite the multitude of individual accolades, the team fell short of greater success. While not entirely out of the question, the Rebels are projected to miss the end-of-season NCAA Tournament. The possibility remains they will be invited to play in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship, where Ole Miss could finish off the season with some hardware.
Ole Miss did, however, set an attendance record this season: 10,716 people made their way to the Gillom Sports Center over the past few months to support the Rebels.