OXFORD, Miss. – Though it was Senior Night, sophomore Emily Stroup continued Ole Miss Volleyball’s youth movement, leading the Rebels with a career high 23 kills and 13 blocks in the Rebels’ 3-1 (25-11, 21-25, 25-18, 25-19) victory over South Carolina Wednesday.
(Click here for box score.)
It was a performance that senior outside hitter Lexi Thompson saw as a realization of Stroup’s growth over the season. “(Stroup) is like a fire. She gets the most kills, which is absolutely amazing as a sophomore stepping up,” Thompson said.
It was a performance that certainly makes a case for Stroup was snubbed from All-SEC consideration.
“Emily Stroup had a heck of a regular season. Really, really played well. Not only tonight, but the whole season.”
Ole Miss head coach Steven McRoberts
The Rebels started quickly with a 25-11 win in the first set. They dropped the second set before closing out the final two sets to take the match.
McRoberts called the Gamecocks “resilient,” but the Rebels staved off South Carolina’s strong second set performance to take the rest of the sets.
Seniors Kate Gibson and Lexi Thompson combined for 24 kills and 33 digs, but most of all, gave Ole Miss fans their fourth consecutive winning season, a feat not accomplished in over three decades.
Thompson is Ole Miss’ all-time leader in kills, and Kate Gibson has over 1,000 kills in her Rebel career.
McRoberts cites those two for a major culture change surrounding the volleyball program that extends beyond the stat book.
“With the way they come every day working hard. For Kate’s personality, the joy that she shows every time. Lexi is more the kind of quiet, does things by actions type of person…. Both have brought two totally different personalities to the mix, and it has worked.“
The Rebels finish their regular season at 17-14 (8-10) and now await a potential spot in the NIVC, a spot that McRoberts is fairly confident the Rebels will secure. Teams will be announced following the NCAA selection show, but Ole Miss will be preparing as if they are in the postseason–whether they make it or not.
“This will be a good opportunity for our players to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families, and then come back and get ready to start playing again,” McRoberts said.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)