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Volleyball carries momentum into start of SEC play

Petre Thomas/The Daily Mississippian

 

After sweeping the Magnolia Classic last weekend to win the tournament for the fifth straight year, the Ole Miss volleyball team rides the momentum into Southeastern Conference play. The Rebels open the conference slate this weekend with LSU Friday night and Arkansas Sunday afternoon

“We are back to .500,” head coach Joe Getzin said. “But more importantly, I think we are ready for the SEC.”

The Rebels posted a 13-7 mark in the SEC last season and finished second in the Western Division behind the LSU Tigers.

“They are, I think, four or five-time SEC West champions,” Getzin said of LSU. “They just got used to winning. I don’t know if they are as athletic as they may have been in the past, but they are a very good team and a very good ball-control team.”

The Rebels went 1-1 last season against LSU, and that one win was only one of the four losses for the Tigers last season in conference play. That win also came within the friendly confines of the Gillom Center, so home-court advantage could prove to be critical for the Rebels’ success.

“It should be another battle though,” Getzin said. “They should be ready to play.”

LSU visits Oxford with a 7-3 overall record, but the Tigers have lost their past two matches against Xavier and Western Kentucky. They rank fourth in the SEC in hitting percentage and fifth in assists and kills and lead the conference in service aces.

The Rebels close out the weekend with a match against Arkansas on Sunday. The Razorbacks enter Oxford with a record of 8-3 and also on a three-match win streak. The Rebels and Razorbacks split the season series 1-1 last season with both teams winning at their home venue.

The Razorbacks have seen tough competition so far this season with matches against No. 15 Colorado State and No. 18 Oklahoma. Arkansas lost both of these matches but carried the experience and momentum into later games this season.

Arkansas possesses a strong front row, which has pushed them to the top of the SEC in blocks this season with 104.5. Among SEC teams, the Razorbacks are third in service aces, seventh in hitting percentage and seventh in kills.

The weekend action for the Rebels starts at 7 p.m. Friday against LSU and continues at 1:30 p.m. Sunday against Arkansas.