The Ole Miss volleyball team saw its win streak come to an end on Sunday with a loss to Texas A&M at home.
After Friday’s 3-1 win over Arkansas, Sunday’s matchup was a far more intriguing one between two teams vying for NCAA Tournament berths.
The Rebels fell to the Aggies in a tight match that came down to two controversial calls in the final set, putting the Ole Miss record at 14-4 and snapping the Rebels’ 14-match win streak.
“Winning 14 in a row is, you know, amazing and I told that to the team after,” said head coach Steven McRoberts. “It was a great run that doesn’t happen very often. There’s not many teams nationally that run off 14 in a row… it was huge for us.”
The fifth set was a highly competitive affair that was marred by late controversy. With the score at 6-6 in the decisive set, the Rebels were in possession of the ball with the Aggie defense scrambling, but the official inexplicably stopped play to allow a Texas A&M player to tie her shoe.
McRoberts leaped off the bench in protest and had a heated discussion with the assistant official before play resumed. The Aggies scored the next point to take the lead but Ole Miss responded with back-to-back points to reclaim their advantage.
With the match hanging in the balance, another controversial call went against the Rebels and cost them another point.
This time, a Texas A&M player made a good play on a ball headed out of bounds and hit it over the net near the sideline in front of the official. One of the assistant officials immediately waved his flag in the air, indicating that the ball had crossed the net out of bounds.
Normally, this would result in a halt of play and Ole Miss would be awarded a point, but the lead official did not see the call being made and allowed play to continue. After Texas A&M scored to end the rally the officials convened and decided to award the point to the Rebels, but it was immediately challenged by Texas A&M’s head coach.
Had the call been made correctly at the right time, the challenge would have resulted in Ole Miss being deducted a point and play would resume there, but because the play was not stopped, Texas A&M was awarded the point. This tied the match at eight and the Aggies went on to win, bringin the Rebels’ historic win streak to an end and handing them their first conference loss of the season.
“Texas A&M is a great team. They’ve been competitive with everybody on their schedule and they’ve played one of the most competitive schedules in the nation,” McRoberts said. “I felt like there were some opportunities there for us, especially late there in the fifth set and we just didn’t make the plays like we’ve been making.”
Stroup led the team with 14 kills on just a .040 hitting percentage. Senior middle blocker Nayo Warnell played well, recording 10 kills on a .529 clip to go with two assists, two aces, eight total blocks and three digs. Bars recorded three kills, 40 assists, one ace, two blocks and eight digs.
The Rebels now move on to play what could be their toughest week of conference play as they travel to Athens on Wednesday to take on Georgia before returning home to face No. 16 Kentucky on Sunday.