OXFORD, Miss. - After hitting the road for a long trip to Kentucky and LSU, the Ole Miss Rebels volleyball team (10-13, 4-10 Southeastern Conference) returns home to the friendly confines of the Gillom Sports Center on Friday and Sunday for matches against Tennessee and No. 16 Florida.
Tennessee (17-6, 10-4 SEC) and Florida (19-4, 13-1 SEC) are two of the SEC Eastern Division's top teams, ranking third and first, respectively, in the division. Ole Miss will face the Lady Vols, which are receiving votes in the latest American Volleyball Coaches' Association top 25, on Friday at 7:00 p.m. CT, and Florida on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT.
"They're two of the better teams in the conference," Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin said. "They're both very physical teams. We're going to have to bring our A-game. Right now, we're still cleaning some things up on our side of the net. If we can take care of our first contact, our middle blockers have proven that they can play with anybody. Hopefully that continues to open up some things for other positions."
Friday is "International Students Day" at the Gillom Center, as each international student who prints the email sent to them by their department head and brings it to the match will receive two tickets to Saturday's football game against Vanderbilt.
Sunday, in honor of it being Veterans Day, Ole Miss volleyball is offering two Egg Bowl tickets to active duty and retired military personnel who attend the match. Service members must present an ID, and tickets will be given away after the second set against Florida.
Ole Miss will be playing Tennessee for the first time this season. The Lady Vols are the only team in the conference Ole Miss has yet to play in 2012. The two teams had a flare for the dramatic last season when they got together, as both matches went to five sets, with the Lady Vols taking home a victory in each.
The Rebels lost 3-0 (14-25, 12-25, 22-25) to Florida on the road earlier this season. Junior outside hitter Kara Morgan had team highs of 11 kills and eight digs against the Gators. Eight of Morgan's 11 kills in the match, and six of her eight digs came in the third set. Senior setter Amanda Philpot had a team-high 23 assists, and freshman middle blocker Ty Laporte finished with six kills, the second most on the team.
Ole Miss has been led offensively this season by Morgan, who is averaging 3.16 kills per set. Philpot is passing out 9.28 assists per set, and defensively, senior libero Ashley Veach is fourth in the SEC with 4.44 digs per set.
The Rebels have had great production from its freshmen of late. In the last seven matches, two of Ole Miss' top three kill leaders are freshmen, with Laporte (76 kills) just one kill behind Morgan. Similarly, the top two Rebels in blocks over the last seven matches are freshmen, including Nakeyta Clair, who has led Ole Miss with 29 total blocks in the last seven matches.
Tennessee enters Friday night's match coming off its best conference win of the season, defeating Florida 3-2 in Gainesville, Fla. Tennessee junior outside hitter Kelsey Robinson is second in the SEC in kills, and senior middle blocker DeeDee Harrison is second in the league in blocks.
Despite its first conference loss of the season Sunday, Florida has had a great year in league play thus far, ranking inside the top four in the SEC in hitting percentage, opponent's hitting percentage, assists, kills and service aces. Florida outside hitter ÂÂ?iva Recek is the two-time reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, and a three-time honoree overall.
For all Ole Miss volleyball news and information, including live stats, recaps 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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