Ole Miss looked hesitant at times in the first set against Tennessee State, but quickly got into a balanced rhythm in the next two sets to overcome the Tigers with a 3-1 victory in its second match of the Magnolia Invitational.
The loss drops TSU to 0-2 to start the 2015 season.
The final shot to the hearts of the Tigers came from sophomore outside hitter Kate Gibson, who landed a powerful right-handed kill in mid-air, then ran off the court to celebrate with her teammates and coaching staff. For the game, Gibson had 11 kills and 11 digs.
Senior middle blocker Nakeyta Clair had a team-high 13 kills on a .522 clip and scored 15.5 of the team’s 71 points. Sophomore redshirt freshman Kathryn Cather recorded 12 kills on a .556 attack percentage, while fellow sophomore Lexi Thompson finished the match with 9 kills.
In the third set, the Rebels (2-0) led early on 13-12, but allowed TSU to go on a 9-2 run to take a 21-15 lead. Ole Miss responded behind Clair and Thompson’s scoring attack to win the third set 25-22. The Rebels ended the third set on a 10-2 run.
The Tigers (0-2) won the first set 25-22 behind junior outside hitter Chloe Watson who recorded 14 kills. TSU seemed to lose its confidence in the second set, trailing 8-0 to the Rebels, until head coach Kelly Bullock decided to call timeout. However, by that time Ole Miss was in full control and won the set easily, 25-9.
At the end of two sets, the Rebels held a slight edge over the Tigers in kills, 21-20. In the final two sets, Ole Miss separated itself from TSU with a 27-18 kill advantage.
Rebels coach Steven McRoberts now has 498 wins and is two wins away from the 500-win club. Ole Miss will be back in action tonight at 7:30 p.m. against Northwestern State.
(Feature image credit: Ole Miss celebrates after defeating Oral Roberts on August 28, 2015 in Oxford. Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)