The Ole Miss volleyball team will play two conference matches this weekend, first at Arkansas then versus Louisiana State University at home.
The Rebels have dropped six of their last seven matches, including three straight to begin conference play. This stretch has been littered with errors which must be cleaned up if the team wants to get back on track to compete in the SEC.
“We are focused on improving every day. Since day one I have been happy with the attitudes and work ethic of our team,” head coach Steven McRoberts said.
The Rebels will have a good chance at getting back on track Friday when they travel to Fayetteville to take on Arkansas in their only matchup with the Razorbacks this season. Arkansas has struggled this season, posting a 6-8 record that includes an 0-4 start in conference play. The Razorbacks have lost six in a row entering Friday’s matchup, mostly because of a difficult start to their SEC slate, which included matches at Texas A&M, then No. 19 Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as a lone home match against a strong Missouri Tigers team.
The Razorbacks won both of their matchups against the Rebels last year, taking both matches in five sets. In fact, four of the Razorbacks’ last five matchups have gone the full five sets, which means that this match should be an intriguing one. Ole Miss, with its NCAA Tournament aspirations dwindling, must use this match and the Sunday matchup against LSU as steps in the right direction before getting to the tougher portion of its SEC schedule.
The Rebels will host LSU on Sunday and must come away with a victory if they want any shot at staying competitive in the SEC. LSU enters this weekend 5-10 on the season and 0-4 in conference play. The Tigers have lost four in a row, including a demoralizing 2-3 loss to a strong Texas A&M team (26-24, 21-25, 25-23, 23-25, 13-15). LSU will be hungry for an early upset as the team looks to play spoiler to middle of the pack SEC teams on the edge of qualifying for an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Tigers came away with a 3-2 victory (25-22, 25-27, 25-23, 28-30, 19-17) in their only meeting with Ole Miss last year and have won two of their past three matchups with the Rebels. Ole Miss hopes to turn it around this year and set the tone of the season series before traveling to Baton Rouge on Nov. 7.
The Rebels must come away with two wins this weekend to build momentum as they move into what looks to be the most difficult stretch of their season. Between their two games versus LSU, the Rebels will face 12-4 Missouri, No. 10 Kentucky in Lexington, 13-3 Florida, 5-11 Mississippi State, 8-7 Auburn in Auburn, 13-5 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 13-4 Tennessee and No. 10 Kentucky, again. This stretch could easily result in seven more losses for the Rebs but also presents opportunities for upsets and, more importantly, signature wins that could pad an NCAA Tournament resume.
“We have a couple of opportunities this weekend to get better,” McRoberts said. “We have been close multiple times recently. I am confident that we will start getting some momentum and wins to go our way soon.”
The Rebels will face Arkansas at 7 p.m. on Friday in Fayetteville before hosting LSU at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the Gillom Center.