The Ole Miss volleyball team swept Texas Tech in the final round of the National Invitational Volleyball Tournament to win the championship title.
The Rebels set the tone for the night early on in set one. Their execution at the net and quick movement on defense kept them in the lead the entire time. The Red Raiders made errors throughout the set and, in time, the Rebels came out on top 25-17.
“Knowing that Texas Tech is well coached, they have a good team so it could have gone either way, and we could play well and still lose,” Head Coach Steven McRoberts said. “I think in every set we kind of pulled away. Especially even late, so it definitely made it easier on my heart to have a cushion there, to know that we could make a couple of mistakes and still win the thing.”
From the first serve in the second set, Ole Miss played calm and in control. Both setters for the Rebels, sophomore Jordan Fate and freshman Lauren Bars, created opportunities for the strong hitters on their side of the net. Texas Tech’s defense put up a good fight but could not withstand the the attack from the Rebels’ side of the net.
Sophomore Emily Stroup, building on her single season record for the most kills, racked up 17 more tonight. Ole Miss held Texas Tech to a -.073 hitting percentage. The Rebs took set two by ten points, 25-15.
Both teams came out fighting in set three. Junior defensive specialist Caroline Adams snagged the single season record for digs at 514. The scoreboard was dead even working towards that 25th point. After a couple of long, intense volleys, Ole Miss pulled ahead just in time. They were able to regain focus and connect with one another.
Tonight was seniors Kate Gibson and Lexi Thompson’s final night on the court for the Red and Blue. They were able to extend their final season by five games with the run for the NIVC. “We worked so hard, and everyone played so well and phenomenal this tournament,” Gibson said after the game. “Leaving this team as champions feels like more than I could have ever asked for.”
“Coach talked about leaving a legacy,” Thompson said, “and I think this is a great way to go out. It sets the standard, and I feel amazing. I know the team feels amazing. It’s a great feeling.”
“How proud I am for these girls,” McRoberts said. “That wouldn’t have changed if we lost tonight. With how hard they’ve worked, with their great attitudes, the energy. We just had so much fun together. We all grew together. Winning a volleyball match won’t change how i feel about my team because I love ’em immensely either way.”
By Elyse Lenaburg, Social Media Editor of HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org