OXFORD, Miss. – After a 3-0 loss Friday morning, Ole Miss volleyball head coach Joe Getzin challenged his team. They responded Friday evening.
The Rebels fought off match point in the fourth set and went on a crucial 6-1 run midway through the fifth set to grab a thrilling 3-2 (22-25, 25-18, 14-25, 26-24, 15-8) victory over host-school Xavier in the Xavier Invitational in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Many of the Rebels turned in career- or season-best performances in the victory, including a career-high 37 digs from senior libero Ashley Veach that ties the school record set by Michelle Whitby-York in 1990, and Morgan Springer in 2010. Junior outside hitter Kara Morgan had a double-double, notching a career-high 20 kills to go along with her 16 digs. Senior setter Amanda Philpot passed out a season-high 46 assists, while senior outside hitter Whitney Craven had a season-high 19 digs and senior right side hitter Allegra Wells had a dozen digs.
“After challenging the upperclassman following this morning’s loss, I was really happy to see how they responded and fought in tonight’s match,” Getzin said. “Ashley Veach stepped up in a big way and made some big plays for us. Kara Morgan continued to develop as an outside hitter and had a good offensive performance against a very-good defensive team.”
Xavier won the first set by a count of 25-22 after a furious Ole Miss rally gave the Rebels the lead. The Musketeers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before Ole Miss rebounded to score five straight points. Trailing 15-10, Ole Miss mounted its second comeback of the set, scoring eight of the set’s next 10 points to take an 18-17 lead. Xavier regrouped from there, though, and went on an 8-4 run of its own to close out the set and take a 1-0 lead.
Ole Miss took control of the second set early and never looked back. The Rebels took a 2-1 lead and never trailed for the remainder of the set, stretching its lead to nine points at one time. Wells led the Rebels offensively in the set, recording five kills and three blocks. Junior outside hitter Kellie Goss had three kills of her own and Philpot had a dozen assists.
The third set was the complete opposite of the second set for the Rebels, as Xavier, this time, took an early 2-1 lead and never looked back en route to winning the set 25-14 and taking a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Rebels showed an immense amount of grit and heart in the fourth set with their backs against the wall. With Xavier leading 24-23 and serving for the match, freshman middle blocker Nakeyta Clair and Morgan combined for a block assist on an attack from Xavier’s Alex Blair to notch the set at 24 points apiece. Wells then gave Ole Miss a 25-24 lead when she converted a kill off a pass from Philpot. After a Xavier timeout, Ole Miss finished off the set with a block assist from Clair and Wells.
Riding a wave of momentum after the dramatic fourth set victory, Ole Miss trailed just once in the fifth set. Tied 5-5, the Rebels used a 6-1 run to build a cushion and finished off Xavier 15-8.
“They have the potential, it’s just a matter of believing in themselves to do it,” Getzin said. “We’re a good team, we just have to believe it. I’m really happy with the leadership we had tonight. Amanda Philpot set a great game today and it was a good win for us.”
The Rebels lost to Marquette 3-0 (21-25, 21-25, 25-27) earlier Friday morning to open play at the Xavier Invitational.
Ole Miss will play again Saturday at 1 p.m. CT against Tennessee Tech to conclude play in the Xavier Invitational.
For all Ole Miss volleyball news and information, including daily recaps, live stats and results, go to OleMissSports.com, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissVB and go to Facebook at Ole Miss Volleyball.
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