Following the Ole Miss Rebels’ 3-0 loss to No. 21 Kentucky Sunday afternoon, head coach Steven McRoberts looked at the loss as a positive moving forward, instead of a major setback. He’s more focused on getting his team into the NCAA Tournament.
After the Wildcats’ freshman middle blocker Brooke Morgan nailed two-consecutive kills over the heads of the Rebels’ net attack of Ty Laporte, Nakeyta Clair, and Lexi Thompson during a 4-0 run to the end game, McRoberts was greeted off the court with handshakes and comments of “Good job coach” and “You will get them the next time around.”
McRoberts pleased with fire shown by his Rebels
A coach is never happy with a loss on his or her team’s home floor, and McRoberts would be one of
the first to say that. But with seven games left in the season, he’s concentrating on seeing his team play with more fire like it did in the final set against Kentucky (15-6, 8-1) when the Rebels rallied on a short 3-1 run to take the 23-21 lead late before suffering defeat.
That same fire, as McRoberts said, will play a huge part in the team’s quest for a postseason berth.
“It was a great bounce back from the second set,” McRoberts said about Ole Miss, which was down by as many as eight points in the second set.
“First set was competitive; it was 15-15. We gave up a run in there and they end up beating us 25-20. Getting outscored 10-5 at the end of a set is not very good.
“Even though we cut it at one point, I think at four points in the second set, it felt like they owned the momentum in that set and during the break. We really just asked them to compete, keep our energy, and we did that. That gave us an opportunity to win it,” McRoberts added.
Quest for the postseason
Despite the loss, the Rebels (18-6, 4-5) still have a lot to play for and can’t afford to fall into a ditch with an entire month of conference games ahead of them.
Three of Ole Miss’ final seven games are against teams that are ranked in the RPI Top 50 (Missouri 12, Texas A&M 32, Arkansas 36) and with wins over those opponents, the Rebels could possibly erase last season’s disappointment of no postseason play.
That’s been the goal since the start of the season.
“Sure,” McRoberts’ quick answer when he was asked about the team’s ultimate goal this season. “Beating Arkansas, beating Tennessee will definitely jump us up quite a few RPI points. It’s not going to hurt us from a RPI standpoint losing this match, but it sure would have helped us to win it.
“But as we go forward and we have like four or five teams that are top 50 RPI-like teams, we are going to have the opportunities to get those wins and create a resume that hopefully puts us into the tournament.”
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)