The Ole Miss volleyball squad won the NIVC Tournament Tuesday night, volleyball’s equivalent of the NIT, with a 3-0 victory over Texas Tech at the Gillom Center. Sophomore outside hitter Emily Stroup led the way for the Rebels, notching 17 kills and 11 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. Seniors Kate Gibson and Lexi Thompson, playing in their final game, each had nine kills.
Stroup was named MVP of the tournament, and Gibson and junior libero Caroline Adams were also named to the all-tournament team.
The Rebels were dominant throughout their tournament run, dropping just one set in five matches on their way to the title. They beat Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas State, Georgia, West Virginia, and then the Red Raiders in the final. It certainly helped that all five matches were played at the Gillom Center, and a season-high 1,012 fans were on hand to create an electric atmosphere and watch the Rebels clinch the title.
Taking a quick look ahead to 2018, there is good news and bad news for Ole Miss. The bad news is, the Rebels need to find a way to replace Thompson, Ole Miss’ career kills record holder, and Gibson on the outside.
The good news is, everyone else from head coach Steven McRoberts’ primary rotation is back. Stroup, who had a breakout year and set Ole Miss’ single-season kills record, returns, along with Adams, setters Lauren Bars and Jordan Fate, and middle blockers Nayo Warnell and Bayleigh Scott. Most of the lineup is already set, and it will be up to Caitlin Wernentin, Leah Mulkey, and talented incoming freshman Lauren Thompson to step into the lineup and be productive.