The Ole Miss volleyball team travels to Conway, Arkansas this weekend for the Central Arkansas Classic where they’ll face Little Rock and Central Arkansas in a Friday doubleheader and Oral Roberts on Saturday to finish out the weekend.
The Rebels are coming off of a successful weekend in New Orleans in which they won all three matches, bringing their record to 3-3 on the season.
After a disappointing opening weekend against some tough competition, Ole Miss rebounded well and now has a chance to get above .500 for the first time this season.
Their first match is against a Little Rock team coming off a strong 2018 campaign where they finished 19-13. The Rebels knocked off the Trojans in their only matchup last year and will look to do it again against a weaker foe that sits at 0-6 on the young season. In fact, the
Trojans have yet to pick up a single set this year and should be easy pickings for a more experienced and more talented Ole Miss squad.
The second match of the weekend for the Rebels will be against Central Arkansas, a powerhouse of late in the Southland Conference. The Sugar Bears finished with an impressive 26-7 record last season before falling to Wichita State in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. They enter Friday’s matchup losers of three straight and will be hungry for a win in their first match of the weekend.
Ole Miss has a size advantage up front but faces a Sugar Bears team that features a pair of middle blockers who have been racking up blocks so far this season in redshirt sophomore Ravin Rhodes and junior Amari Mitchell. The battle at the net could be the deciding factor in the match.
The final match of the weekend for Ole Miss comes on Saturday against Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles have struggled thus far this season at just 4-5 and are coming off an abysmal 9-19 season last year.
Facing tough competition over the next few weeks, they’ll be desperate for any wins they can muster. The Rebels have not faced Oral Roberts since 2015 when they handled the Golden Eagles easily in a 3-0 victory.
The Golden Eagles will be playing in their second match of the day, and Ole Miss should jump at the chance to land an early knock-out blow to a tired team.
This weekend is personal for head coach Steven McRoberts, an Arkansas native who got his Division I coaching start at Central Arkansas.
“[I am] really looking forward to this weekend coming up, getting back home to Arkansas and playing in Conway at Central Arkansas,” McRoberts said. “I have a lot of great memories from coaching there for six years. UCA was the university that gave me my DI head start.
“I started there when the program was still a Division II program for a year, then they made the transition. So, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for UCA. Again, I get to go back and see a lot of
friends and family, and we know there’s going to be some good volleyball this weekend as well.”
The Rebels have just two more non-conference matches after this weekend before they jump into SEC play against Tennessee at home on Friday, September 27. They should be expecting to sweep the rest of their non-conference schedule and build up some momentum for a tough SEC season.