The Ole Miss volleyball team plays two matches on the road this weekend: one on Friday against Auburn and one on Sunday against Alabama.
The Rebels are currently 12-11 on the season following a win over Mississippi State this past Sunday, but they have struggled in conference play and sit in a tie with LSU for tenth in the SEC at 2-7. With NCAA Tournament hopes being dashed every passing weekend, the Rebs must come up with big wins moving forward if they want to improve on last season’s performance and victory in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.
Auburn enters the weekend at 8-11 overall and 1-8 in conference play — second-to-last in the SEC. The Tigers have lost five matches in a row, including two at home, with their last win coming against the Rebels in Oxford on Sept. 30. Having allowed Auburn to record its only conference win of the season thus far on the Rebels’ home court, Ole Miss should be chomping at the bit to avenge the loss and gain some traction in the middle of the pack in the SEC.
Auburn has not been too impressive at home, posting a 2-4 record, with the team’s only wins coming against High Point University in the War Eagle Invitational and a surprise upset over ACC contender Florida State on Sept. 16.
Alabama has to travel to College Station on Friday to take on a competitive Texas A&M team before returning home to face the Rebels. Entering the weekend with a 17-6 record, including a win over a strong Navy team on the road, Alabama is looking to separate itself from the middle tier of SEC competitors and compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide have won four of their past five matches, with their only loss coming in Gainesville at the hands of then-No. 11 Florida.
This is the first game between Ole Miss and Alabama this season, and the Rebels will hope to set the tone of the matchup this weekend on the road before hosting the Tide on Nov. 18. Last year the Rebels came away victorious in their only matchup with Alabama, a 3-1 win at home early in conference play. However, they will face a very different Crimson Tide team this weekend, one looking to propel itself into the upper echelon of SEC contenders.
With nine games remaining in the SEC slate, including a matchup against No. 14 Kentucky, the Rebels will need to string wins together in order to remain competitive and garner enough attention to receive an invitation to the NIVC this year. After a promising 9-1 start, the Rebels have lost 10 of their past 13 matches and may not sniff any postseason action if they cannot rid themselves of the errors that have plagued them on this lengthy skid.
The Rebels will play Auburn at 7 p.m. Friday before travelling to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama at 5 p.m. Sunday. The match against Alabama will be broadcast on ESPNU.