The Ole Miss volleyball team dropped three matches this weekend, losing to Rice, Iowa State and Central Florida.
The Rebels’ 0-3 mark in the Rebel Invitational showed several weaknesses in the Ole Miss team.
“We brought in three top-40 teams, which I talked about that last Monday how it was going to be a tough opening tournament,” head coach Steven McRoberts said. “A mistake on my part was not scheduling an exhibition match. All three of the other teams came in with that, so lesson learned from a coaching standpoint.”
On Friday, the Rebels fell to Rice in straight sets (21-25, 22-25, 21-25) but remained competitive throughout the game.
The third set was also closely contested, as Ole Miss led for the majority of the time before Rice rallied to score four of the final five points to close out the match.
Senior outside hitter Emily Stroup led the team with 11 kills on a disappointing .114 hitting percentage. Freshman outside hitter Anna Bair was second on the team with eight kills in the match on a .185 clip. Senior middle blocker Nayo Warnell led the team with three total blocks, and junior setter Lauren Bars led the Rebels with 24 assists.
In the second match of the weekend the Rebels fell to Iowa State 3-1 (14-25, 18-25, 25-22, 21-25).
Stroup again led the Rebels in kills with 12 in the match, but hit an abysmal .020 percentage. Warnell was much more efficient, contributing 11 kills and a block on a .529 clip.
Bair provided another 11 kills on an improved .321 hitting percentage. Bars put on an impressive performance, registering two kills, 39 assists, 11 digs and three blocks.
The final game of the weekend was perhaps the most disappointing for Ole Miss as the team won the first two sets before dropping three straight to lose the match 3-2 (26-24, 25-21, 21-25, 21-25, 10-15).
In what proved to be a pivotal third set Ole Miss battled back and forth with the Knights
but were derailed by mistakes down the stretch that cost them the set. The tension was palpable in the stands, and a disappointed home crowd seemed to be overcome with a lingering sense of dread after seeing what appeared at first to be a dominant win slip through their fingers.
Stroup led the team in kills once again with 21 in the match on a .246 clip and also contributed 14 digs and two assists. Bair recorded 19 kills on a .179 hitting percentage.
The Rebels were better at contesting shots at the net in the final match, led by Warnell’s six blocks. Bars and sophomore outside hitter Lauren Thompson registered four blocks each as well.
Ole Miss will head to New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Volleyball Classic next weekend where they will face Houston Baptist, Missouri State and Tulane.
“Well I hope our road record is better than our home record,” McRoberts said. “I saw a lot of progression over the weekend. We’re excited about getting another opportunity this weekend going down at Tulane. Tulane played Iowa State in the finals of the NIVC last year.”
McRoberts is confident the Rebels will pick it up in the second weekend of the season.
“(We’re) going to work on some things we need to work on this week and hopefully go into next weekend with a lot more confidence and get some wins so the team starts believing and gets more confidence from that standpoint,” he said. “Tough weekend to start but looking forward to making progress as the season goes on.”