The Ole Miss Volleyball team faced two true road tests against the Auburn Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide on its road trip this weekend through Alabama.
The Rebels faced Auburn on Friday night in a back-and-forth affair that saw Ole Miss fall in a thrilling five-set match. Senior Caitlin Wernentin recorded her first collegiate double-double, totaling 12 kills and 12 digs. Caroline Adams led the team with 17 digs, while Emily Stroup led with 18 kills. Ole Miss matched Auburn in blocks with 14, and Nayo Warnell lead the way with five in the match. Lauren Bars and Leah Mulkey also pitched in four apiece.
After losing the first set, Ole Miss went up 16-10 in the second set, thanks to several strong kills from Wernentin and Warnell. Auburn brought the set to 20-19, but Stroup had two solid kills to seal the second set for the Rebels.
The third set was a constant battle for every point. Ole Miss took a timeout when the score reached 19-21. Leading up to the timeout, this set had 17 ties, with Auburn now up by two. After the timeout, Auburn pulled away and won the set 21-25, now leading the game two sets to one.
The Rebels started out the fourth set slow, trailing 10-6. After a timeout, the Rebels were able to gain some momentum. The Rebels were fired up after back-to-back kills from Stroup, who had five kills in this set alone. Ole Miss grabbed the late lead at 23-22 from several integral plays from Leah Mulkey and Aubrey Sultemeier. Ole Miss was able to pull out a win in the fourth set, 27-25, with the final two points coming off errors from Auburn.
In the deciding fifth set, Ole Miss was trailing 5-13. Ole Miss came back on a 5-0 run to bring the score to 10-13, thanks to strong performances from Wernentin, Warnell and Bars. The Rebels couldn’t finish the comeback, losing the set 13-15 and falling to 2-8 in SEC play.
Looking to get back on track after the loss, Ole Miss faced Alabama on Sunday evening in Tuscaloosa. Alabama was coming off a big win at Texas A&M, while Ole Miss was looking to secure its first SEC road win of the season.
After the loss to Auburn, Ole Miss pulled off a much-needed win against Alabama. A strong all-around performance from the Rebels led them to a victory in four sets. Stroup and Wernentin led the way, both earning double-doubles in this match, Wernentin’s second straight. Stroup had 19 kills and 15 digs while Wernentin had 17 kills and 19 digs.
The first set was an exciting one, setting the tone for the rest of the match. Ole Miss was a force at the net with 20 kills this set. With a hot start from the Tide, Alabama pulled away and went up 24-21. After three straight set points, Ole Miss tied the set at 24-24. Ole Miss had four set points, but failed to finish and ended up losing the set 28-30 after two straight kills from the Tide.
In a tight second set, Alabama found itself ahead 17-13. Ole Miss called a timeout at that point to get back on track, and then another one when the score reached 18-21. Whatever Coach Steven McRoberts said in the huddle propelled the Rebels to become more aggressive at the net and clinch the second set 25-22 with an all-out effort from the whole team.
The third set started out close, then Ole Miss had a big run and went up 24-19 for set point. Alabama threatened the Rebel lead, but the Rebels came out on top after yet another kill by Stroup to win the third set 25-21. The Rebels had 17 kills this set to help secure the win.
The fourth set was all Ole Miss. The offense stayed strong and consistent, while the defense also stepped up. Ole Miss grabbed a big lead early, but Alabama started creeping its way back in. Ole Miss called another time out with a score of 15-13. Ole Miss was able to get back out there again after the time out and put the game away for good. The Rebels’ aggressive offensive attack helped them win the fourth set 25-19 and win their first SEC road game this season.