OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Ole Miss remains undefeated on Day 2 of the Rebel Invitational, taking down Little Rock 3-1 Saturday afternoon at Gillom Athletics Performance Center. The Rebels improve to 5-1 on the season and seek the tournament title Sunday.
Several Rebels turned in solid days at the net; sophomore Bayleigh Scott matched a career-high with 10 kills on a .333 hitting percentage, classmate Leah Mulkey added 11, falling two shy of her career-high, and senior Caitlin Wernentin hit at a stellar .500 efficiency, committing just one error and flawless through the first three frames.
Junior Nayo Warnell delivered production late in the contest, posting eight kills and three blocks on a .462 clip. Junior Emily Stroup added 18 kills to round out the double-digit performers.
“I’ve just been focusing on being consistent and being the best that I can for my team,” Scott said. “We feed off each other so playing with energy and being a firecracker helps us all out and we all turn in better performances.”
“I thought the team played really well and we always find ways to bring energy,” Wernentin added. “We can always look to one another to bring each other up on our runs and we’ve played really well together this tournament.”
The Rebels demonstrated a strong all-around effort in the opening stanza, with four players hitting above .300 in Scott, Mulkey, Sultemeier, and Wernentin.
Things began tight at 4-4 before Ole Miss broke away, securing eight of the next 11 points. The Trojans crept back in, taking four straight points to bring the score to 17-15 before a Lauren Bars service ace sandwiched between two Wernentin kills increased the gap to five points.
The Rebels took 11 of the final 14 points to take an early advantage in the match with a Set 1 25-18 victory.
In a complete reversal from the first frame, the two squads battled through 10 ties in Set 2 before Little Rock used some late power and took advantage of an Ole Miss miscue to even the match with a 26-24 win.
The third set began in favor of the Trojans, who recorded six unanswered points to come from behind and take a 7-5 lead before kills from Stroup and Wernentin and a Little Rock attack error put the Rebels back in control at 9-7. Ole Miss continued to pressure, building a comfortable five-point lead before the Trojans once again tried to creep back in. A late-set kill from Nayo Warnell followed by a Little Rock service error handed the Rebels the match advantage once again at 25-21.
Ole Miss found production in the final set from Wernentin, Scott, Mulkey, and Warnell, combining for 15 of the Rebels’ 19 kills, led by Warnell’s five.
The Rebels face in-state foe Southern Miss Sunday in the tournament finale, slated for a 1:30 p.m. first serve.
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