OXFORD, Miss. – One week after opening Southeastern Conference play, the Ole Miss volleyball team (10-5, 0-2 SEC) will embark upon its first SEC road swing beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday as the Rebels face No. 19 Kentucky and Georgia, respectively.
The Rebels face Kentucky (10-3, 2-0 SEC) at historic Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky., on Friday at 6:00 p.m. CT. Ole Miss will then fly down to Athens, Ga., to compete against Georgia (11-3, 1-1 SEC) on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CT.
“We have a very good Kentucky team and a very solid Georgia team that went down to LSU and beat them in five (sets),” Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin said. “The SEC is tough. It is a very good conference volleyball wise. Now we have to go on the road and do it.”
Ole Miss is 5-2 on the road so far this season, going 2-1 at the season-opening GW Invitational in Washington, D.C., and 3-1 at the TCU Nike/Molten Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas. The Rebels finished second at each tournament.
Sophomore middle blockers Nakeyta Clair and Ty Laporte have led the Rebels offensively this season. The former SEC All-Freshman selections are first and second on the team in kills, hitting percentage and blocks. Clair is averaging 2.24 kills per set on a .320 hitting percentage and 1.19 blocks per set, which ranks sixth in the conference. Laporte has a team-high 2.42 kills per set while attacking at a .295 clip. The Irmo, S.C., native is also averaging 0.79 blocks per set.
The Rebels’ youth has seen a large amount of playing time this season. Alongside second-year student-athletes Clair and Laporte, Ole Miss has started four newcomers in each of the past nine matches, including three freshmen, and senior Kara Morgan.
Freshman Kristen Brashear has started every match at the libero position, and ranks 12th in the league with 3.54 digs per set and first among freshmen. The Louisville, Ky., native set an Ole Miss single-match freshman record earlier this season when she had 28 digs in a four-set victory at George Washington.
Melanie Crow has started each match as the Rebels’ right side hitter. The freshman currently leads the team in SEC matches with 2.67 kills per set. Her .264 hitting percentage on the season is the third best on the team.
Aubrey Edie, a freshman from Fayetteville, Ark., has been Ole Miss’ setter in each of the past nine matches. Edie is averaging 8.90 assists per set on the season, 10th best in the SEC and second among freshmen.
Kentucky enters Friday’s matchup riding a five-match winning streak, including a pair of road wins last week at Auburn and Alabama. UK senior Whitney Billings is the league’s reigning player of the week after logging a pair of double-doubles against the Tigers and Crimson Tide. In addition to Billings, fellow senior Alexandra Morgan is the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week.
Georgia went 1-1 in its opening week of SEC action. The Bulldogs topped LSU in Baton Rouge, La., in five sets before falling on the road at Texas A&M. Of Georgia’s 11 wins this season, eight have come in the form of 3-0 sweeps. Senior Stacey Smith and junior Lauren Teknipp are each averaging 2.62 kills per set to lead the UGA attack, and senior libero Allison Summers is third in the SEC with 4.79 digs per set.
For all Ole Miss volleyball news and information, including daily recaps, live stats and results, go to OleMissSports.com. Fans can follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissVB and on Facebook at Ole Miss Volleyball.
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