After a hot start in SEC play and winning their first six conference games, the Ole Miss volleyball team is on an eight-game losing skid nearing the end of the season.
With only four games remaining, the Rebels hope to get back into a rhythm and finish the season with a few more wins.
The Rebels will face Arkansas on Friday, then Texas A&M, Mizzou and Kentucky. Texas A&M, Mizzou and Kentucky will all make the NCAA Tournament, with Kentucky in a place to win the SEC overall.
All of these opponents will be familiar with the Ole Miss, as the Rebels already faced each team once during this season. One of Ole Miss’ biggest wins of the season was in October when the Rebels beat the then-No. 22 Mizzou Tigers. Ole Miss also beat Arkansas last month, which marked their 14th straight win, tying the longest win streak in program history. The Rebels came close to defeating Texas A&M before losing the heartbreaker in five sets.
The Rebels are in a slump right now with a challenging schedule still remaining, but the team hasn’t given up on the season.
“They keep coming back every day, and when you think that they’re going to come in mopey and maybe down, they keep coming in with energy,” head coach Steven McRoberts said. “That’s the culture that we’ve tried to create, and our seniors are leading the way right now with that.”
The seniors on the squad have especially been leading the team this season. Nicole Purcell is the individual SEC dig leader. The senior has recorded three top-five dig performances this season.
The team is also leading the SEC overall in digs. Emily Stroup is seventh in the SEC in kills. Stroup reached four straight games of double doubles, recording double digit numbers in kills and digs in a single game. She is also eighth in the SEC in points.
Nayo Warnell is third in the conference in hitting percentage. Warnell has been on a roll in November with single-game highs in kills, points and aces this month.
Losing those seniors will not be easy for the team, but Ole Miss has recently signed five new players to its 2020 class. The squad will bring depth to the team and includes two Top-100 senior aces, and all five players have scores of regional and state honors.
“We have a little bit of size and speed. You’re always wanting, from a physicality standpoint, to be the best you can be in both of those categories,” McRoberts said. “Then we have a couple of defensive specialists that we’re really excited about. I think from top to bottom, it’s our most solid recruiting class since I’ve been here.”
The Rebels are sitting at a 14-11 record overall, 6-8 in conference play and tied for eighth in the SEC. The team has a chance to move back up in the standings with a few wins at the end.
The Rebels will face Arkansas at 7 p.m on Friday in Fayetteville. Their final home game and senior night will be at 6 p.m. on Nov. 27 against Mizzou at the Gillom Center.