In front of a crowd of 662, the Ole Miss Lady Rebel volleyball team (7-5, 1-2 SEC) defeated Mississippi State (4-8, 0-3 SEC), 3-1 (25-18, 24-26, 25-23, 25-12) and earned its first Southeastern Conference win of the season on Friday night at the Gillom Sports Center.
The crowd was into the match from the beginning, and that was something head coach Joe Getzin said he liked to see.
“Any time you can take care of home court, it’s really good,” Getzin said. “We took care of a pesky, good, defensive team in Mississippi State.”
Junior outside hitter Kara Morgan led the way for the Lady Rebels, killing 15 balls, while senior outside hitter Allegra Wells earned 11 kills of her own.
Ole Miss cruised to an easy 25-18 victory in the first set, behind five kills from Morgan and Wells. Wells’ first kill of the game sparked a 6-0 Lady Rebel run, pushing the lead to 7-2 and forcing Mississippi State to call an early timeout. The Bulldogs got within three at 13-10, but Ole Miss scored eight of the next 10 points, extending its lead to 20-13.
Senior setter Amanda Philpot had an effective touch, disguising an assist for a kill by tapping the ball over the net into the holes of the Bulldogs’ defense. Philpot had 13 assists to go along with her two kills in the first.
“She’s such a threat (offensively),” Getzin said of Philpot. “If we can get the ball up near the net, she can take care of it.”
Philpot also recorded her second triple-double of the season, tallying 40 assists, 12 digs and 10 kills.
“I was aggressive, and that’s what Coach has been asking,” Philpot said. “I think our team really came together, and we showed a lot of fight.”
Morgan’s team-high seven kills in the second set were not enough, as the Bulldogs took a thrilling second set, 26-24. The set stayed even early on, but the Lady Rebels used a 6-0 run to break the 6-6 tie and pushed their lead to 11-6. Mississippi State fought back with six out of seven points to tie it back up at 14. Ole Miss had set point, but the Bulldogs scored three in a row to even the match at 1-1.
The third set was another nail-biter, but the Lady Rebels prevailed with a 25-23 win. Ole Miss came out of halftime on fire, starting the third set with a 7-3 lead, but like the second set, Mississippi State came back to tie it up at 11. The Bulldogs took the lead at 16-15, but the Lady Rebels battled back to earn the victory.
“Mississippi State is a good team, and we shouldn’t take them for granted,” Getzin said. “The way that they played in set two is the way they’re capable. They kept the ball alive, and we got a little frustrated and started making a few errors.”
Ole Miss made quick work of Mississippi State in the fourth set, winning 25-12. The set was never close, as the Lady Rebels took the first four points and then opened it up to a 17-7 lead. It was a clean set for Ole Miss, recording zero attacking errors, while Mississippi State had 10.
The Lady Rebels were thrilled to get their first SEC win of the year, and it was all the more enjoyable coming against their in-state rival.
“You never want to lose to State, especially at home,” Philpot said. “It’s just not an option.”
The Lady Rebels return to the court on Friday when they travel to Alabama.
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