Ole Miss volleyball defeated Tulane in an exhilarating five-set match on Sunday, giving head coach Steven McRoberts his 100th win at the helm.
But not for a lack of hard work...
A couple of signs I might need more sleep:— Steven McRoberts (@CoachMcRoberts) September 5, 2019
1. Went outside this morning to run, with my underwear in my hand (no, I wasn’t naked )
2. Return from my run and see a car in the driveway and think “who is at my house before 7am?” then realize it’s my car
McRoberts took over the program in 2014 and inherited a team that finished at the bottom of the SEC standings a year prior. Since then, his team has set numerous records en route to four consecutive winning seasons. In 2017, the Rebels were a few fifth-set conference losses away from an NCAA tournament bid, and won the NIVC Championship (the NIT of volleyball).
Returning nine players from an athletic roster that struggled in 2018, the Rebels fell to three consistent tournament teams in Rice, Iowa State and UCF to begin the 2019 season.
The mostly-veteran squad traveled to the Big Easy over the weekend for the Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Volleyball Classic and flipped the script. After taking down Houston Baptist and Missouri State in straight sets, Ole Miss faced Tulane on championship Sunday.
A dominant third set gave Tulane the advantage and Ole Miss was in do-or-die territory. In the fourth set, down 22-24, Anna Bair and Nayo Warnell crushed back-to-back kills, Aubrey Sultemeir and Lauren Thompson stuffed the attack, and Nicole Purcell finished with an ace to force a fifth and final frame at 26-24.
The deciding set was a dogfight. Even at the 12, 13, 14 and 15 marks, the match entered into a deuce.
The Wave sent the first serve sailing, and the Rebels had their first and only match point of the day. Setter Lauren Bars found herself with an open look and finished it off, giving the Rebels the win and the tournament title 17-25, 27-25, 15-25, 26-24, 17-15.
Ole Miss is now .500 on the year, and well-known ice cream connoisseur Coach McRoberts has reached the century milestone in Oxford.
Bair and senior Emily Stroup were awarded all-tournament accolades, and Stroup was named MVP of the weekend. Stroup, who was one of the most prolific hitters in the nation a year ago, registered her first 20-kill match of the season and added 15 digs for her third double-double of the year. Nasty.
Purcell, Lauren Bars and Avery Bugg posted double-digit digs in addition to Stroup.
Dominate at the net, sophomore Aubrey Sultemeier delivered a career-high eight block assists and Bair posted 14 kills. The two earned SEC co-defensive player of the week and SEC freshman of the week, respectively.
Ole Miss will now turn its attention to Little Rock, Oral Roberts, and Central Arkansas, where McRoberts was the skipper from 2005 to 2010. The Rebels, who need to have it ‘click’ before SEC play in two weeks, will be disappointed if the result is not a sweep this weekend.