Ole Miss volleyball drops four set battle with No. 17 Illinois

Published 11:49 am Monday, August 29, 2022

Playing its second ranked opponent of the weekend, Ole Miss volleyball once again fell short, dropping a 3-1 contest to No. 17 Illinois Sunday afternoon at the Gillom Center.

Service errors and a slow start proved costly as the Rebels (0-2, 0-0 SEC) were unable to climb back in the match against No. 17 Illinois (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten). Ole Miss hit .219 as a team, although Anna Bair and Julia Dyess shined for the second straight match, both finishing with double figure kills. Freshman Cammy Niesen also recorded a career-best 10 digs in her second start.

Right out of the gate, Ole Miss fell behind 7-3. The Rebels watched that deficit grow to six as they ultimately called timeout down 19-13. However, they were unable to regroup as the Illini went on a 6-3 run to take the opening set by a score of 25-16.

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Looking to respond, Ole Miss hung with Illinois in the second. The Rebels climbed back into the match and took a 21-19 lead with a late 6-1 run kickstarted by a pair of Illini miscues. Illinois managed to halt and turn the momentum back in its favor with a timeout before using a 5-1 run of its own to go up two sets on the Rebels

With their backs against the wall, Ole Miss used a 3-0 run to double up Illinois, 10-5, and force them to call a timeout. Bair came alive in the third set, racking up seven kills on a .600 hitting clip. She powered the offense to an eight-point lead at 23-15, its largest of the set. Illinois put together a little 3-0 run down the stretch, but Payton Brgoch and Sasha Ratliff scored the final two points to extend the match to a fourth set.

Both teams went back and forth, with neither team leading by more than three for the majority of the fourth set. With the score locked at 20, Illinois took advantage of four Ole Miss errors to go on a 5-0 run and close out the match.

The Rebels are back in action next weekend at the Nebraska Invitational, where they’re set to take on LMU and the nation’s No. 1 team in Nebraska.