The Ole Miss volleyball team will play two matches at home this weekend against No. 25 Tennessee on Friday and No. 12 Kentucky on Sunday.
The Rebels enter the weekend 13-12 on the season, having won two of their past three matches, but are stuck with a 3-8 conference record and are currently tied with Georgia for ninth place in the SEC. The Rebels have played fairly well at home this season and will be looking to upset two SEC contenders this weekend.
“We have two top-25 teams coming into the Gillom (Center), so we know we will have to be at our best this weekend,” head coach Steven McRoberts said. “We played really well at Alabama this past Sunday, and I like the way that we are competing in practice.”
Tennessee enters the match 18-5 on the season and 9-2 in conference play. The Volunteers are currently fourth in the SEC — behind Kentucky, No. 20 Missouri and No. 11 Florida — and are ranked in the top 25 for the first time this season. They had early-season upsets against then No. 22 Michigan State at home and then No. 16 San Diego on the road.
The Volunteers have won 11 of their past 13 matches, including nine in conference play. They have lost to Kentucky twice already this season but have defeated every other SEC opponent they have faced thus far. Seeking a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, the Vols will be looking to shut down their next five opponents before facing No. 11 Florida at home on Nov. 21.
Tennessee came away with the win last year in their only matchup with the Rebels and have won two of their last three matches against Ole Miss, dating back to 2016. The Rebs will hope to flip the season’s script on Friday and play spoiler to a team on the edge of possibly winning the SEC title.
Kentucky enters the Sunday afternoon match with a 17-4 record, including a perfect 11-0 in the SEC. Despite a sweep of Florida on Halloween, which may have secured the SEC title, the Wildcats remain one spot behind the Gators in the AVCA poll.
The Wildcats have dominated their competition over the past two months, winning 14 matches in a row. They were undefeated in October, winning all eight of their matchups against SEC opponents, including wins over Tennessee, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Florida. With championship aspirations, any loss for the Wildcats at this point could severely affect their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. This means that they will try to close the door early in hopes of avoiding any possibility of an upset.
Having already lost to Kentucky in Lexington on Oct. 14, the Rebels will look to a statement by dealing the Wildcats their first SEC loss this season, as well as gain their first win against Kentucky since 2010.
Ole Miss will have just five games left in the regular season after this weekend, including difficult matches at Texas A&M, at South Carolina and at Tennessee. With NCAA Tournament hopes fleeting, the Rebels will most likely need to win out in dominant fashion to even sniff a bid. However, an NIVC opportunity is likely, and wins over ranked teams could greatly improve the Rebels’ seeding in that tournament.
Ole Miss will host Tennessee tonight at 6:30 p.m. Kentucky on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.