The Ole Miss volleyball team plays two matches at home this weekend against No. 11 Florida on Friday and rival Mississippi State on Sunday.
Last weekend the Rebels were swept at home against Missouri and then again on the road against No. 16 Kentucky.
“I thought we did some nice things over the weekend, but our consistency is lacking,” head coach Steven McRoberts said. “We will continue to look at some different options to see if we can get back to winning matches.”
The Rebels have lost nine of their past eleven matches and are 1-6 in conference play so far. With few opportunities left to get statement wins, a victory against an elite Florida team at home is necessary to boost a potential NCAA Tournament resume.
“We are in a tough stretch in the SEC season. We are playing the top teams in the conference, and I am happy with our effort, but we need better execution.” McRoberts said.
Florida is 17-3 on the season and 8-0 in conference play. After not dropping a single set in their first four conference matches, including their SEC opener against Ole Miss, the Gators were taken to five sets at home against Texas A&M and Georgia and on the road against South Carolina before sweeping Alabama at home.
Opening the season ranked No. 4 in the first regular season poll, the Gators have held the No. 11 spot for six consecutive weeks, and look poised for yet another deep run in the NCAA Tournament after losing in the championship match last year.
The Rebels will be hungry for an upset on their home court, but they face a difficult task against a Florida team that is 5-1 on the road this season, including a win at No. 2 Nebraska in Lincoln in their first game of the season.
“We’ve been very pleased with the way our team has practiced this week,” assistant coach Torri Plugge said. “We changed things up a bit with the way we set up practice, making everything more competition oriented.”
Mississippi State enters the weekend with a 5-16 record, including records of 1-7 in conference play and on the road. The Bulldogs’ only conference win came at home against Auburn on Sept. 26, and they have lost five straight since.
The Rebels won both matchups with Mississippi State last year and look to take advantage of a weak Bulldog team this year in their only matchup of the season.
“Rivalry week versus Mississippi State is always fun, but we have to take the season one match at a time and focus on our Friday match against Florida first,” Plugge said.
The Rebels have struggled with hitting and receiving errors for weeks now, and coaches have decided to take a different approach in practice this week to try and cut down on those unforced errors.
“A big focus for us is keeping our side of the net more consistent while still playing relaxed and having fun,” Plugge said. “It’s going to be another tough weekend of matches, but that’s expected in SEC play.”
The Rebels will face No. 11 Florida at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.