Volleyball looks to carry momentum from first SEC win

Posted on Sep 28 2012 - 1:39pm by Lacey Russell

After capturing their first Southeastern Conference win this past weekend against Mississippi State, the Lady Rebels (7-5, 1-2 SEC) hit the road to take on Alabama (12-4, 1-3 SEC) and South Carolina (13-2, 2-2 SEC) this weekend.
“Both teams are playing really well right now, probably the best they’ve ever played,” assistant coach Shannon Wells said during Monday’s weekly press conference. “(Both teams have) two-year coaches, and they’re kind of turning around the programs.”
The Crimson Tide had a stellar nonconference record, suffering only the one loss to Northeastern, but has lost three of its first four matches in conference play. Senior outside hitter Kayla Fitterer leads Alabama offensively with 158 kills, having played in only 43 of 57 sets. Freshman setter Sierra Wilson is second in the conference in assists with 630, averaging 11.05 per set.
Led by junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin, the Gamecocks are coming off their first two losses of the season after starting the season 12-0. Thévenin leads the team in kills — second in the SEC — with 220, averaging 4.31 per set. Defensively, junior libero Paige Wheeler has 219 digs, averaging 4.21 a set.
It’s the Lady Rebels’ second SEC road trip of the season, having lost in straight sets to new SEC members Texas A&M and Missouri.
“The two things that we really need to work on are serving and passing,” Wells said. “We’re going to have to take a ton of serving reps and serve against them.”
Senior outside hitter Ashley Anderson emerged as an effective player against Mississippi State last weekend. She recorded six kills against the Bulldogs after recording only 10 kills through the first 12 games.
“It’s part of that senior core that has just been sticking with it and really doing a nice job for us,” Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin said. “When we needed a change in blocking, Ashley came in and did a great job and had some key kills down the stretch.”
While Texas A&M and Missouri had large venues and crowds, the South Carolina and Alabama gyms are smaller and more intimate.
“We’re going to have to rely on what we learned at Missouri and Texas A&M, two schools that had amazing crowds,” Wells said. “We’re going to have to turn the radio up loud in our gym (during practice) or something.”
Ole Miss plays in Tuscaloosa on Friday night at 7 p.m., then travels to Columbia on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. They return home next weekend to take on Kentucky and Arkansas.