OXFORD, Miss. - Coming off its first tournament championship of the season, the Ole Miss volleyball team (10-3) will now enter Southeastern Conference play when it hosts Arkansas (7-4) and No. 3 Florida (11-1) on Friday and Sunday, respectively, at the Gillom Sports Center.
Ole Miss faces Arkansas at 7:00 p.m. CT Friday and Florida at 1:30 p.m. CT Sunday. The Rebels are 6-1 against Arkansas at the Gillom Sports Center dating back to 2006. Ole Miss enters the conference portion of the season on a three-match winning streak after winning the Rebel Classic at home last weekend.
"They're two very good teams, obviously, coming in to play," Ole Miss volleyball head coach Joe Getzin said. "We're excited to open up SEC play at home. That helps us. Arkansas is a very physical team and we're going to have to execute on our side of the net. Florida's record and ranking speaks for itself. They're No. 3 in the country for a reason."
At the Rebel Classic, Ole Miss dropped one set in three matches and allowed its opponents to score 20 or more points just twice. Sophomore middle blocker Nakeyta Clair and freshmen Melanie Crow and Aubrey Edie were each selected to the all-tournament team, and Clair was named tournament MVP.
Clair and fellow sophomore middle blocker Ty Laporte have put up impressive numbers through the non-conference portion of the schedule. Clair is averaging 2.23 kills per set on a .321 hitting percentage - both second on the team - and a team-high 1.27 blocks per set, which ranks second in the SEC. The electric Laporte is averaging a team-high 2.52 kills per set on a .322 hitting percentage and 0.83 blocks per set, which is second on the team.
The Rebels have gotten great production this season from freshmen Kristen Brashear, Crow and Edie. The rookie trio has started together in each of the last seven matches, with Brashear and Crow having started every match this season.
Brashear is 10th in the SEC with 3.73 digs per set, and tallied an Ole Miss freshman record with 28 digs at George Washington. Crow is averaging 1.96 kills per set and her .271 hitting percentage is the third highest mark on the team among those with at least 10 attacks. Edie has started the last seven matches at setter and is 10th in the conference with 8.89 assists per set. Edie averaged 10.20 assists per set last weekend in Ole Miss' three matches at the Rebel Classic. Each of the three freshmen has been named to at least one all-tournament team this season.
Arkansas enters Friday's match coming off a 3-0 sweep of Saint Louis on Sept. 21. The Razorbacks are led by junior outside hitter Meredith Hays, who is third in the SEC with 4.15 kills per set. Senior Kara Morgan had 14 kills in the two teams' first meeting last season, and Clair recorded a career-high 14 kills in their second meeting.
The highly ranked Gators enter conference play riding a six-match winning streak. Florida notched three 3-0 sweeps last week over in-state rival No. 17 Florida State, Marquette and Milwaukee. Sophomore ÂŽiva Recek (3.64 kills per set) and senior Chloe Mann (3.58 kills per set) enter the week ranked sixth and eighth, respectively, in kills in the SEC.
For all Ole Miss volleyball news and information, including daily recaps, live stats and results, go to OleMissSports.com. Fans unable to attend Friday or Sunday's match will be able to watch the Rebels on WatchRebelVision.com. Fans can also follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissVB and on Facebook at Ole Miss Volleyball.
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