STARKVILLE, Miss. – Playing against its intrastate, conference rival on national TV, the Ole Miss volleyball team shined. Paced by career-highs from sophomore Nakeyta Clair and junior Cara Fisher, and a double-double from freshman Aubrey Edie, Ole Miss defeated Mississippi State 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-15, 25-20) Wednesday evening in Starkville.
The win was Ole Miss’ sixth in its past seven matches against Mississippi State, and its second on national TV against the Bulldogs dating back to 2010.
“It was a great, collegiate atmosphere here, and a great rivalry match,” Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin said. “Our team really stepped up on the defensive side of things tonight.
“Both teams sided out very well. We talked to our team a lot about pushing for one point, and if we get one it turns into two.”
Clair, who had a team-high 11 kills at Mississippi State last season, had a career-high 19 kills Wednesday on a .536 hitting percentage. Fisher, the Rebels’ libero, provided a strong defensive presence, recording a career-high 17 digs. Edie facilitated the offense beautifully en route to recording her team-high fifth double-double of the season with 42 assists and 12 digs.
Freshman right side hitter Melanie Crow had 11 kills and five total blocks against the Bulldogs, and has now recorded nine or more kills in eight straight matches. Senior Kara Morgan had five kills and 14 digs in the win, and sophomore Ty Laporte had nine kills and three total blocks.
Ole Miss (12-12, 2-9 Southeastern Conference) came out of the gates focused and ready to play in front of a loud crowd of 1,633 at the Newell-Grissom Building on the campus of Mississippi State. The Rebels used a 4-0 run to take a 13-11 lead in the opening set and force Mississippi State head coach Jenny Hazelwood to use her first timeout. The Rebels’ attack did not cool down from there as it doubled its lead to four points at 19-15, causing MSU (11-14, 2-9 SEC) to use its final timeout of the set. Ole Miss closed out the set from there to take a 1-0 lead in the match with a 25-20 set victory. Clair and Laporte each had four kills, while Edie passed out 11 assists as Ole Miss hit .312 for the set. Defensively, Fisher and Morgan each dug five balls.
Neither team led by more than two points in the second set until Mississippi State went on a 3-0 run to take a 21-18 lead late in the set. In a set that featured 15 ties, Ole Miss could not find the 16th, and the Bulldogs evened the match at one set apiece with a 25-20 win.
After falling down by three points at 4-1 to open the third set, Ole Miss regrouped to score six of the next eight points and took its first lead at 7-6. From there, the Rebels took the crowd out of the set for the most part en route to cruising to a 25-15 victory. Clair shined in the set, recording six kills on nine attacks.
“We didn’t panic,” said Getzin about falling behind early. “We’re growing up a bit as a team, and we stayed patient.”
Mississippi State again jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead to open the fourth set, but the Rebels again showed their resolve in fighting back to score eight of the next 11 points to take a 9-7 lead. Ole Miss stretched its lead to as many as eight at 22-14, and went on to win the set and close out the match at 25-20.
Ole Miss continues its road trip Friday with a match in Knoxville, Tenn., against the Tennessee Lady Vols at 6:00 p.m. CT. Ole Miss is seeking its first season sweep of the Lady Vols since 2007. Ole Miss then closes out the weekend at home Sunday with a match against Texas A&M at 1:30 p.m.
For all Ole Miss volleyball news and information, including recaps, live stats and results, go to OleMissSports.com. Fans can also follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissVB and on Facebook at Ole Miss Volleyball.