Volleyball Rebels look to extend streak
OXFORD, Miss. – It is safe to say the Ole Miss volleyball team will not be sneaking up on any of its opponents any time soon.
After starting the season 0-3, the Rebels have reeled off 12 consecutive wins and are 4-0 in Southeastern Conference play for the first time in program history.
— Ole Miss Volleyball (@OleMissVB) October 10, 2019
The fourth win came Wednesday when Ole Miss knocked off No. 22 Missouri, 3-1, in Columbia. (Click here for box score.)
In the win over Missouri, Emily Stroup led the way with 18 kills while Anna Bair added 12. Lauren Bars added 40 assists and Nicole Purcell had a team-high 17 digs.
Even in losing the first three matches of the season, Ole Miss showed improvement each time.
After losing the season opener to Rice 3-0, the Rebels lost to Iowa State 3-1 and got better in a 3-2 setback to Central Florida before breaking through and beating Houston Baptist to start the winning streak.
“We competed well in the first three matches,” Ole Miss coach Steve McRoberts said. “But the biggest thing is we improved.”
A quartet of upperclassmen are leading the way.
“We have great senior leadership,” said Coach McRoberts. “It is a very loyal group and they want to have a great team.”
Stroup, Purcell, Leah Mulkey and Nayo Warnell have led both on and off the court.
“They are a great group,” McRoberts added.
“After 23 years of coaching, I can’t think of a more fun group I have been around. You can tell they were raised right at home.”
Ole Miss head coach Steve McRoberts
That rearing is helping the Rebels become a great team.
Ole Miss is leading the league in digs, constantly keeping the pressure on the opponents to make mistakes. When they do, Ole Miss takes advantage.
Stroup is leading the way with a team-high 228 kills and Bars has 589 assists. Defensively, Warnell has 63 blocks, just one ahead of Aubrey Sultemeire’s 62. Purcell is pacing the Rebels with 277 digs.
To keep the success moving forward, Ole Miss must get past Auburn Sunday. The Rebels are riding another streak when it comes to that conference foe. The Tigers have won the last six matches against Ole Miss. The last time the Rebels beat Auburn was in 2014.
“They (Auburn) have had our number since I’ve been here,” McRoberts said. “They are going to come in here thinking they have always beaten us before and will do it again.”
From a nickname standpoint, this one bodes well for Ole Miss. The last two wins for the Rebels have been over the LSU Tigers and Missouri Tigers. Sunday could bring the feline three-peat.
These Tigers are 6-9 on the year (0-4 in the SEC) and are riding a four-game losing streak.
The match begins at 1:30 p.m., in the Gillom Athletics Performance Center.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.