The Ole Miss volleyball team played two matches this weekend, losing to No. 11 Florida on Friday night before defeating Mississippi State on Sunday.
In the first match of the weekend, the Rebels fell to Florida 1-3 (25-20, 21-25, 21-25, 15-25). It was the Rebels’ second loss to Florida this year after losing on the road in Gainesville on Sept. 21 in their SEC opener.
In a competitive first set, Ole Miss faced a 12-14 deficit before going on a 9-1 run to take a commanding 21-15 lead. The Rebels took advantage of Florida’s miscues and junior Emily Stroup’s strong hitting, eventually closing out the set 25-20 on a kill by sophomore Leah Mulkey. Stroup recorded an impressive eight kills in the set, coming out of the gates hot.
Both teams battled back and forth in a second set that included seven lead changes and 14 ties. Florida finally broke away late, ending the set on a 5-1 run in which the only point they surrendered came on a service error. Stroup and junior Nayo Warnell each recorded three kills in the set.
Florida controlled the final two sets of the match, as the Rebels could not manage to get a lead in either set. Stroup finished with 20 kills on a .115 hitting percentage, also recording 15 digs, two assists and one ace. Sophomore Lauren Bars recorded a match-high 37 assists, also contributing 14 digs, five kills and a block.
In the Sunday game, Ole Miss defeated Mississippi State 3-1 (18-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-18) in the only matchup between the rivals this season.
The Rebels struggled early against the Bulldogs, falling into 15-9 deficit. They managed to put together a meager run late in the set, bringing the score to 20-16 before the rally was derailed by back-to-back attack errors. Sophomore Bayleigh Scott had a strong performance in the set however, putting up five kills and a block.
In the second set the Rebs learned from their earlier mistakes and did not allow themselves to get into a hole, jumping out to an 17-10 lead. Mississippi State battled back however, going on an 11-5 run to bring the set to within one. The Rebels got back on track with a kill from Stroup and a block from Mulkey and Scott. A Bulldog error ended the set and drew the match to 1-1.
The Rebels would not look back from that point, winning the final two sets handily, extending their winning streak against State to three games. Stroup finished the match with 17 kills on a .308 clip. Scott had an impressive performance, putting in a career-high 15 kills on a .519 hitting percentage to go along with five blocks. Senior Caitlin Wernentin recorded 11 kills on a .308 clip, as well as four digs and an assist. Bars recorded another match-high with 46 assists, also contributing eight digs, one block and a one ace. Mulkey had nine kills, five blocks and two digs.
The Rebels will be on the road next weekend, facing Auburn on Friday and Alabama on Sunday. They will hope to put together a winning streak as they near the halfway point in conference play sitting at 12-11 on the season.