WASHINGTON - The Ole Miss volleyball team used its depth to its advantage Friday night in its season-opening 3-1 (17-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-14) win over UMBC at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C. The Rebels' 3-1 victory was the opening match of the GW Invitational, hosted by George Washington University.
Ten Rebels recorded at least one kill against the Retrievers, led by a team-high 13 kills from senior outside hitter Kara Morgan. Freshman libero Kristen Brashear had 15 digs, while sophomore setter Skylar Johnson had 16 assists and freshman setter Aubrey Edie had 14 assists.
"It's a big win for us just to get a win coming out of the shoot, and to get some of those first game jitters out of the way," Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin said. "The team did an excellent job of responding after being really nervous in that first game."
UMBC (0-1) took the first set 25-17 paced by a strong 9-1 run to take a 14-8 lead. The Rebels (1-0) fought back and cut their deficit to three at 16-13, but could not get closer for the remainder of the set.
Trailing 6-3 early in the second set, Ole Miss scored five straight points to take an 8-6 lead and prompt a timeout by UMBC. Later in the set, with Ole Miss leading 15-14, Morgan hammered down a kill to the opposite side that began a 5-1 run for the Rebels to give them a 20-15 lead. Ole Miss would go on to take the set 25-19. Morgan led the Rebels offensively in the second set with five kills on just seven swings.
"Kara played really well," Getzin said. "That steady presence that she has on the floor makes such a difference for us."
The third set was a back-and-forth affair that featured five lead changes and 13 ties. Following an 8-0 run by the Retrievers to take an 11-5 lead, the Rebels responded with a 6-0 run of its own to tie the set at 11-11. After a 4-1 run by UMBC to take a 19-16 lead, Ole Miss used its first timeout of the set. The Rebels came out of the timeout by going on a 4-1 run to tie the score at 20. Ole Miss then used its second timeout when they fell down by a 23-21 count. The Rebels never flinched in the set's closing moments, and scored the final four points to win 25-23 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Rebels took control of the fourth set early, and won 25-14 to take the match 3-1. Ole Miss broke open an early 5-5 tie and outscored the Retrievers 20-9 over the remainder of the set. Morgan again had five kills in the fourth set, while sophomore middle blockers Nakeyta Clair and Ty Laporte combined for four kills on seven attacks. Edie passed out eight assists on the set as the Rebels hit at a .423 clip.
Ole Miss will play a doubleheader Saturday against Maryland at 11 a.m. CT and George Washington at 6 p.m. CT.
Saturday evening's match against George Washington has an added note of interest, as senior middle blocker Kellie Goss will be facing her twin sister, Rachael, who is an outside hitter for the Colonials.
For all Ole Miss volleyball news and information, including recaps of each of the Rebels' two matches Saturday at the GW Invitational, go to OleMissSports.com. Fans can also follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissVB and on Facebook at Ole Miss Volleyball.
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