AMES, Iowa (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Facing a team who made the NCAA second round in 2017 and was receiving votes in the preseason AVCA Poll, the Ole Miss volleyball team knew Oregon State would prove a tough challenge in the preseason. The Rebels answered the call, closing out a huge 3-2 (23-25, 27-25, 25-20, 27-29, 15-12) win at the Hilton Coliseum Saturday to finish 2-1 at the Iowa State Invitational.
Despite dropping a close first set, the Rebels bounced back to take a 2-1 lead and had the match won, before Oregon State staved off four match points in the fourth set to force a deciding fifth set. The Beavers led 8-7 at the changeover and 10-8, but the Rebels hung in there with some big kills and forced Oregon State to make the mistakes at the end. Holding a 12-11 lead, the Beavers had a service error, ball handling error and two attack errors, as the Rebels closed it out 15-12 for the 3-2 win.
Set 1: The Rebels led 15-10 in the opening set, but the Beavers went on a 10-5 run to tie it at 20. Tied at 23, Oregon State called its final timeout of the set and promptly got a kill from Lindsey Schell and a service ace from Grace Massey to close out the comeback, 25-23.
Set 2: Ole Miss led 15-12 midway through the second set and later built a five-point lead (20-15) on one of Emily Stroup's match-high 21 kills. The Rebels gained their first set point, 24-22, on a kill by Iowa native Caitlin Wernentin, but consecutive kills from OSU made it 24-24 and sent it to overtime. An attack error by the Beavers gave the Rebels another set point at 25-24, but Oregon State answered to tie it again. Bayleigh Scott stepped up and put down one of her nine kills followed by a kill from Stroup to seal the set, 27-25 and even the match.
Set 3: The Rebels jumped out to a 9-3 lead in set three before the Beavers made it 12-11 on an 8-3 run. From there the two teams battled back and forth until a service error and three attack errors by OSU gifted the Rebels a 22-18 lead. They never relinquished it winning 25-20 to take a 2-1 lead.
Set 4: Ole Miss controlled the fourth set and was on their way to closing out the Beavers in four, gaining two match points at 24-22 on a kill by Stroup. The Beavers responded with a kill, and then an attack error by the Rebels made it 24-24. Ole Miss gained two more match points at 25-24 and 26-25, but Oregon State won four of the final five points to close out the set 29-27 and regain momentum as the match went to the deciding fifth set.
·The Rebels improved to 110-52 in regular season tournaments under Coach McRoberts.
·This marked the first meeting between Ole Miss and Oregon State.
·Junior Emily Stroup picked up where she left off in 2017, posting three double-doubles in the tournament including a match-high 21 kills against the Beavers with 13 digs.
·In her third career start, sophomore Leah Mulkey had a career day with 13 kills, 10 digs and 4 blocks.
·Iowa native Caitlin Wernentin tallied 12 kills (one off her career-high) including several big ones late in sets.
·Sophomore Bayleigh Scott finished with 9 kills, 4 blocks and 2 service aces.
·Freshman Aubrey Sultemeier finished off a solid opening weekend with 6 kills on a .333 clip and 8 blocks.
·Senior Caroline Adams notched her 1,000thdig this weekend and tallied 28 digs on the day, three off her career-high.
Ole Miss returns home to host the Rebel Invitational next weekend at the Gillom Athletics Performance Center. The Rebels open up with Samford for their annual Kids Day game Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. followed by Ohio State at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free to all home matches.