Ole Miss volleyball falls to Tennessee in five-set heartbreaker

Published 11:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2022

Freshman Vivian Miller’s career-high 21 kills weren’t enough as Ole Miss couldn’t complete the comeback, falling to Tennessee in a five-set thriller inside the Gillom Center Wednesday night.

The Rebels (10-11, 6-5 SEC) had their hands full trying to stop the hot-hitting Lady Vol offense that hit .338 as a team. Tennessee finished with four athletes in double-figures, making it difficult for the Rebel defense. Miller paced both teams with 21 kills, besting her previous career high of 18, on 51 swings. Reigning SEC Co-Freshman of the Week, Aly Borellis, led the Ole Miss offense to a .273 clip with 50-plus assists for the second straight match.

It was a slow start for the Rebels, who quickly found themselves trailing 13-6 in the first set. They worked to battle back, but Tennessee held on to the seven-point advantage and ran away with the set, taking it 25-17.

Ole Miss responded in the second set, overcoming a six-point deficit to even the match at one set apiece. After trading points out of the gate, the Rebels fell behind as the Lady Vols went on a 5-1 run and took a 13-7 lead. Sasha Ratliff and Miller went to work steadily chipping away at Tennessee’s lead, eventually cutting it to three and forcing the Lady Vols to call timeout. Just when it looked as though Tennessee would hang on to its lead at 23-21, Ole Miss rattled off four unanswered points to take the set, capped off by a kill from Borellis.

Tennessee and Ole Miss battled back-and-forth to open the third set. Tied at nine, the Lady Vols found themselves on a 6-2 run to take a 15-11 lead into the media timeout. Ole Miss struggled to cut into the lead, never getting back within striking distance as Tennessee took the set 25-18.

Backs against the wall, Ole Miss once again used a late surge to extend the match. The Rebels kept things close through the media timeout, down 13-15. Tennessee managed to increase its lead to five at 20-15, but Ole Miss never wavered. The Rebels found a spark in Samantha Schnitta off the bench as she helped shift the momentum back to Ole Miss’ side of the court and kickstart a massive 10-3 run to steal the set.

With the match on the line in set five, the Rebels got off to a fast start. Miller’s 20th kill of the night gave Ole Miss a two-point lead at 6-4. It continued to hold the advantage as both teams swapped sides, but shortly after, Tennessee took three consecutive points to snatch its first lead of the set. Ole Miss called timeout in an attempt to swing the momentum back, but the Lady Vols found the final three points to spoil the Rebels’ comeback attempt.

Ole Miss hits the road for Columbia, South Carolina, for a weekend series with the Gamecock on Saturday and Sunday, November 5 and 6.