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Volleyball hosts first home games of season at Magnolia Classic

Petre Thomas/The Daily Mississippian

The Ole Miss volleyball team will host their first home games of the 2011 season at the Gillom Sports Center this upcoming weekend in the Magnolia Classic. Tournament opponents include Arkansas-Little Rock (3-4), Central Arkansas (1-5) and Northwestern (5-0). The Rebels (1-4) are looking to bounce back from another challenging weekend at the Crowne Plaza Classic at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky.

“We opened up with Louisville in their home opener,” head coach Joe Getzin said, “We lost a tough first set 28-26 and we actually had a chance of winning that one.”

The Rebels went on to lose the match in four sets. However, the the Lady Rebels rallied to win in their next match against Eastern Illinois.

“We played some kids who hadn’t seen action yet,” Getzin said of the Eastern Illinois match, “So it was good to finally get a win under our belts.”

Ole Miss closed out the tournament with a four-set loss to Wichita State, bringing their overall record in the Louisville tournament to 1-2.

Despite the losing record, the Rebels found another bright spot in the play of senior Regina Thomas. Thomas earned All-Tournament honors and provided solid play at her middle blocker position.

“Regina Thomas, coming back from her ACL, each match she puts up better and better numbers,” Getzin said.

In their return to Oxford this weekend, the team is looking for a major spark to get their season rolling. They have won the Magnolia Classic four years in a row, sweeping the competition in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“We play at home for the first time this weekend,” Getzin said, “And it’s a great opportunity for our fans to come out and see us in action.”

So far this season there has been no better place to look for that spark than in the two seniors. Regina Thomas, arguably one of the best at the collegiate level, and Morgan Springer, who ranks second in the SEC in digs per game, have excelled and carried the Rebels through the first two weekends this season.

Once again, though, the Rebels have a tough weekend slate.

“We have been very aggressive in our preseason scheduling,” Getzin said, “And that will benefit us long term.”

Perhaps the most dangerous team in the tournament will be the Wildcats of Northwestern. They come into the tournament undefeated and off of a weekend in which they swept the Chicago Challenge Crown.

The Lady Trojans of Arkansas-Little Rock enter the tournament after a 1-2 showing at a tournament last weekend at New Mexico State University. The Trojans did, however, win their last match of the tourney and are look to carry that momentum into this weekend.

The Sugar Bears of Central Arkansas round out the tournament opponents for the weekend. They finished last weekend winless in a tournament at Texas Tech.

The Rebels will open play Friday at 1:30 p.m. against Arkansas-Little Rock. Later that night at 7 p.m., they match up with undefeated Northwestern. Ole Miss will finish Saturday afternoon with a 1 p.m. match against Central Arkansas.