The Ole Miss volleyball team fell to No. 11 Florida 0-3 (17-25, 12-25, 15-25) in Gainesville on Friday in its most lopsided loss of the season thus far.
The Rebels were outmatched by a talented Florida team that struck early and often, playing stifling defense and efficient offense, forcing error after error.
“It was a tough loss,” assistant coach Ronaldo Pacheco said. It was our first conference game, and we will use this game to figure out what we need to do for the rest of the season.”
Freshman Aubrey Sultemeier and sophomore Leah Mulkey led the team with seven kills,
although both posted hitting percentages below .200. Sophomore Lauren Bars led the team with 17 assists while also recording one kill, one block, six digs and two service aces. Senior Caroline Adams led the team with eight digs. Junior Emily Stroup recorded six kills and seven digs but also committed six attack errors and two service errors.
Only two Rebel players posted hitting percentages of .200 or higher. Bars had one kill on two attempts for a .500 clip, and junior Nayo Warnell posted two kills on six attempts to finish with a .333 clip. Two players had negative hitting percentages, as sophomore Bayleigh Scott and freshman Lauren Thompson both committed attack errors on their only attempts, resulting in a -1 rating. The Rebels hit .094 as a team, while the Gators posted a .363 percentage.
The Rebels are averaging a .221 hitting percentage per game in their last five games, as opposed to the .300 they averaged per game in the seven games prior. A rise in attack errors appears to be the cause for this abrupt shift in momentum, as the Rebs had won eight in a row before dropping four of their last five.
In their most recent loss, the Rebels committed 18 attack errors, 13 reception errors, six service errors and one block error, continuing their trend of limiting their own opportunities. During this stretch of four losses in five games, the Rebels have piled up errors and posted low hitting percentages.
The Florida offense was led by redshirt sophomore Holly Carlton, who recorded 10 kills on an extremely efficient .833 clip. The Gators also recorded a whopping 13 aces, including four each from sophomore Paige Hammons and junior Allie Gregory. The No. 11 team in the country also relied on its huge front line, posting 12 blocks as a team and committing zero block errors. All-American junior Rachael Kramer had five total blocks as well as five kills on a .625 clip. Redshirt senior Allie Monserez recorded a match-high 22 assists.
When asked how the Rebels will try and move on from this loss, Pacheco simply said, “(We have) a lot of work to do.”
The Rebels must now put this rough patch behind them as they move forward in conference play. Six of the team’s next eight games come at home, including home games against Georgia on Friday and Auburn on Sunday.
Georgia is 10-3 on the season and 1-1 in SEC play, after defeating LSU on Friday and losing to Texas A&M on Sunday. Auburn is 7-5 this season, including losses to Tennessee and Alabama in its only two SEC matchups thus far. The Rebels will play Georgia at 6 p.m. on Friday in their SEC home opener before hosting Auburn at 2 p.m. Sunday.