The Ole Miss volleyball team’s losing streak extended to five straight matches this weekend after a pair of five-set losses on the road to Tennessee and Alabama.
In the first match of the weekend, the Rebels came up short against Tennessee in Knoxville, falling 3-2 to the Volunteers.
The two squads battled back and forth to a 17-17 stalemate in the first set, but it was all Tennessee after that. They scored eight of the next nine points to win the set handily at 25-18.
The second set was a bludgeoning that seemed to catch the Rebels off guard. The Volunteers went up 11-2 to start the set and would not look back from that point, easily cruising to a 25-15 victory to go up 2-0 in the match.
The third set saw one of the greatest comebacks this Rebel squad has completed this season. Tennessee went up 10-2 early in the set and looked like they would cruise to another victory for the easy sweep. Ole Miss responded with an amazing 12-2 run to claim a lead that they would not surrender. The Lady Vols fought back every step of the way but could not stop the Rebels’ 4-0 spurt that ended the set and finally got them on the board.
Facing elimination once again, the Rebs had to muster another comeback in order to force a decisive fifth set with three straight kills from senior outside hitter Emily Stroup at the end of the set.
Stroup continued to put in work in the fifth set but did not have enough help offensively to finish the job.
Stroup finished the match with a team-high 18 kills on a .250 hitting percentage, as well as 12 digs in a strong defensive effort. Junior setter Lauren Bars led the team with 42 assists and also registered 17 digs and four total blocks.
The second match of the weekend against Alabama was a neck and neck battle that saw the Rebels come up just short in a 3-2 loss.
With their backs against the wall once again, the Rebels stepped up and answered the call despite the fierce opposition from the home side. The Crimson Tide responded by tightening up their defense at the net, earning consecutive points on blocks and converting their strong defense into points. They finally collapsed in the final moments and Ole Miss claimed the fourth set, punctuating their victory with a stout tandem block from sophomore middle blocker Aubrey Sultemeier and senior outside hitter Leah Mulkey.
The Rebels came out slowly in the final set, however, failing to even get into double digits in the fifth frame.
Senior middle blocker Nayo Warnell recorded a career-high 16 kills on an impressive .519 clip. She also led the team with seven total blocks. Mulkey finished with 14 kills on a .250 hitting percentage. Stroup finished with 13 kills and 12 digs but hit an abysmal -.038 in the match. Sultemeier registered a season-high 12 kills on a .381 clip to go along with four total blocks. Bars had a match-high 52 assists in the losing effort.
Seeking answers down the stretch, Ole Miss must now put their woes behind them before they face No. 13 Florida on Friday.