The Ole Miss volleyball team went undefeated in three matches this weekend at the Georgia State Invitational in Atlanta.
The Rebels had their most impressive performance of the season thus far, as they did not drop a single set the entire weekend. The team built on its hot start to the season and extended their win streak to eight, and bringing their record to 9-1.
In their first match of the weekend, the Rebels beat Chicago State 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-18) on Friday. Junior Emily Stroup had a match-high 15 kills on a .481 hitting percentage to go along with four digs and two blocks. Junior Nayo Warnell led the team with four blocks, while also recording five kills and one dig. Junior Jordan Fate led the team with 20 assists and contributed one kill and two digs. In a strong performance, sophomore Leah Mulkey recorded nine kills, nine digs, and three assists.
“Lauren Bars was at her best — both setting and getting kills for the team. It was definitely the best our offense has looked, and I attribute a lot of that to our passing, which was on-point all weekend,” head coach Steven McRobert said.
In the first match of a doubleheader on Saturday, the Rebels defeated Sam Houston State 3-0 in their most lopsided game of the season so far (25-19, 25-6, 25-9). Senior Caitlin Wernentin had a match-high 13 kills with a .385 hitting percentage. Stroup recorded 12 kills on a .440 clip and contributed five digs, one block and one assist. Sophomore Lauren Bars led the team in blocks and assists, with four and 19, respectively. Mulkey had a match-high 12 digs to go along with two kills, one block and one assist.
In the final match of the weekend, the Rebels beat host Georgia State 3-0 (25-17, 25-13, 25-16). Stroup led the team with 12 kills, while Mulkey recorded 11 on a remarkable .625 hitting percentage. Mulkey also led the team with nine digs. Bars led the team with 18 assists and two blocks, also recording five kills and four digs. Senior Caroline Adams had three aces in the game and finished a relatively quiet weekend with five digs.
“We played well this weekend and had a lot of different players step up. Our pin hitters, Emily Stroup, Caitlin (Wernentin) and Leah (Mulkey), were very consistent in all three matches,” head coach Steven McRoberts said. “The middles, Nayo (Warnell), Bayleigh (Scott) and Aubrey (Sultemeier), also had solid contributions with kills and blocks.”
The Rebels look to carry their momentum into this weekend as they compete in their final nonconference tournament of the season at the Rice Adidas Invitational II, in Houston. However, they must first get through a tough game against Memphis. While the rivalry between Ole Miss and Memphis is alive and well in other sports, the two schools’ volleyball teams have not faced each other since their epic 2014 battle.
Memphis is 6-5 this year and has won four straight, sweeping Louisiana-Monroe, Tennessee Tech and North Alabama this weekend after closing out its performance in the Skyhawk Invitational with a win over UAB.
“It has been a couple of years since we have played them, but it’s always a good match with Memphis,” McRoberts said. “With them being so close, it has become a great rivalry in all of our sports.”
The Rebels will continue their home season with more nonconference play at 7 p.m. Tuesday, versus Memphis.