Volleyball Hosts Tennessee In Midweek Matchup

Published 1:06 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2022

• Riding a three-match winning streak in conference play, the Rebels welcome Tennessee to Oxford for a mid-week matchup Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.
• The Rebels have won six of their last seven matches, including three straight, entering tonight’s contest.
• Middle blockers Payton Brgoch and Sasha Ratliff led the Ole Miss attack over the last three matches, combining for 75 kills on a .418 attacking percentage.
• Freshmen Aly Borellis, Cammy Niesen and Vivian Miller have turned heads in the SEC, garnering a combined four weekly honors this season.
• Setter Aly Borellis ranks seventh nationally among freshmen with 10.08 assists per set.
• Senior Anna Bair has been one of the conference’s top attackers in 2022, ranking 10th in the SEC with 3.66 kills per set.
• Bair picked up her 1,000th career kill on September 30, becoming the 15th Rebel in program history to accomplish the feat.
• Middle blocker Sasha Ratliff was one of 15 student-athletes named to the Preseason All-SEC Team. She earned all-conference honors last year after a breakout sophomore campaign.

Head coach Eve Rackham Watt and Tennessee boast a 10-11 record on the season with a 4-5 mark in conference play. They have lost three straight matches entering Wednesday’s matchup. The Lady Vols are led by senior right side Morgahn Fingall, who leads the offense and SEC with 4.16 kills per set. Setter Natalie Hayward has Tennessee hitting at a .250 clip on the season while averaging 9.76 assists per set. Defensively, Paola Laborda paces the defense with 3.45 digs per set, and Klaudia Pawlik ranks first on the team with 1.14 blocks per set.

Tennessee leads the all-time series with Ole Miss 46-11. The Lady Vols have won each of the last two meetings; however, the last time the two teams faced off in Oxford, the Rebels knocked off Tennessee in a five-set thriller.

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Ole Miss was unable to overcome an offensive surge from Tennessee, falling 3-0. Lauren Thompson powered Ole Miss behind a career-high 18 kills, but it wasn’t enough as Tennessee hit at a high-powered .400 clip. Trailing early on in the opening set, Ole Miss was forced to play catchup. The Rebels fought back, pulling within five at 21-16 but were unable to overcome the Vols, falling in set one 25-17. Looking to respond in the second set, Ole Miss used a 3-0 run to even the score at 15. The two teams pushed each other back and forth, tied through 24, until the Vols took the last two points to claim the set. Hoping to extend the match to another set, the Rebels fended off three straight Volunteer set points to come within four at 24-20. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as one final kill for the Vols allowed them to win the set and sweep the match.

After guiding Ole Miss to a rivalry win against Mississippi State, setter Aly Borellis was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Week. Borellis averaged 13.00 assists per set to help Ole Miss pick up its third straight conference victory. The Rochester, Michigan, native tallied 52 assists in the win, the most by an SEC student-athlete in a four-set match this season. She also contributed on offense adding six kills on 11 total attempts for a .455 attacking percentage while digging seven attacks and registering a block.

Ole Miss has caught fire as of late, going 6-1 in the month of October, including pair of sweeps over Alabama and Missouri. The Rebels are playing some of their best volleyball of the season and have won three straight matches as they enter the final month of the regular season.

In enemy territory, the Rebels came out and dominated their in-state rivals in Mississippi State 3-1 in the Magnolia State Showdown. The middle blockers, Sasha Ratliff and Payton Brgoch, took over the match, combining for 30 kills and 14 blocks. They were two of four Rebels to finish with double-figure kills, joined by Katie Corelli and Julia Dyess. Dyess also recorded 14 digs, tallying her first career double-double in the victory. Freshman Aly Borellis navigated the offense to a .268 hitting percentage behind 52 assists, one shy of her career high. Defensively, Cammy Niesen, Maggie Miller and Dyess were flying around the court, all registering 10-plus digs.

Although they are only three months into their collegiate volleyball career, Aly Borellis, Vivian Miller and Cammy Niesen have established themselves as integral pieces of Ole Miss volleyball. Borellis has had a stellar start to her freshman campaign, ranking seventh nationally among freshmen at the setter position with 10.08 assists per set. Outside hitter Vivian Miller has also come on strong as of late, averaging 2.38 kills per set on the year and finishing in double-figures in five of her last seven matches. Niesen rounds out the trio, having started all 20 matches at libero. She leads the team in digs and has tallied 10 or more 16 times.

The Rebels got back on track, winning both matches in the weekend series with Missouri. Ole Miss broke out the brooms Friday night, sweeping the Tigers while hitting at a .314 clip, its fourth-best mark of the season. The following afternoon, Ole Miss pulled off a come-from-behind win, overcoming a seven-point deficit in the fourth set and winning the fifth set to stun Missouri. The middle blockers in Sasha Ratliff and Payton Brgoch led the Rebels all weekend long, combining for 55 kills on a .506 attacking percentage.

Blocking runs in the Ratliff family. In less than three years, Ole Miss junior Sasha Ratliff has quickly climbed into the top 10 in the record books, ranking eighth all-time in the rally scoring era with 267 total blocks. The Rebel middle blocker’s father, Theo Ratliff, was a shot blocker too, ranking 20th in NBA history, with nearly 2,000 blocks in his 16 year career.

After leading the Ole Miss attack and registering career-high kills in both victories against Alabama, outside hitter Vivian Miller was named SEC Freshman of the Week on October 10. She paced the Rebels offensively against the Crimson Tide, averaging 4.13 kills per set on the weekend and hitting at a blistering .338 clip. The Jupiter, Florida, native tallied 15 kills in Friday’s win and followed it up with an 18-kill performance while hitting at a career-best .485 clip. Miller also added a career-best 17 digs on Saturday for her second collegiate double-double.

Following back-to-back 20-dig performances on the road, Ole Miss libero Cammy Niesen was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Week on October 3. She anchored the Rebel defense on the road in Baton Rouge, collecting a career-high 24 digs on Friday against LSU and followed it up with 20 digs the following night, helping lead Ole Miss to its first conference victory of the season. Niesen is one of six SEC student-athletes to record back-to-back 20-plus dig matches this season.

The following weekend against Alabama, Niesen continued to turn heads in the SEC, this time garnering Defensive Player of the Week honors. The Cincinnati, Ohio, product raised her game, averaging 5.25 digs per set and helped the Rebel defense hold Alabama to a mere .150 hitting percentage. On Friday, Niesen tallied a career-best 29 digs in the win, tied for the most in a four-set match by any SEC student-athlete this season and the most by a Rebel since 2018. She is one of four freshmen in the conference this season and the first Rebel freshman since Anna Bair in 2019 to claim multiple SEC weekly awards.

Ole Miss broke out the brooms, sweeping the series with Alabama for its first two victories at home this season. The Rebels came out on top 3-1 on Friday after dropping the opening set. Four Rebels tallied double-digit kills, led by Katie Corelli and Vivian Miller, who finished with 15 each. Defensively, Ole Miss held Alabama to a mere .115 attacking percentage. The following day, the Rebels grabbed a 3-1 victory, nearly pulling off the sweep. Freshman Vivian Miller shined in the win, recording her second career double-double with 18 kills and 17 digs.

👑 AB1K 👑
Senior Anna Bair has been a staple of the Ole Miss attack each of the past four seasons she’s donned a Rebel uniform. On Friday, September 30, the strong-armed St. Louis native reached the 1,000 kill milestone against LSU, becoming the 15th Rebel in program history to achieve the feat. In her career, Bair is hitting at a .225 clip and averaging 3.06 kills per set. A leader on the court, Bair has tallied double-digit kills in 50 matches, including 15 this season.

Despite a tough 4-6 record in non-conference action, the Rebels gained valuable experience on the court that will prepare them for SEC play and a run in the NCAA Tournament. Ole Miss had one of the tougher opening weekends across the country, hosting #9 Georgia Tech and #17 Illinois for the Ole Miss Invitational. They came up just short of the Yellow Jackets, scoring 24 points or more in all four sets, and fell to Illinois in four sets. The uphill climb continued the following weekend at the Husker Invitational, where they battled with #2 Nebraska. The Rebels picked up their first two victories of 2022 at the Bobcat Invitational and followed it up with another 2-1 weekend at the Jaguar Invitational to round out the non-conference slate.

Ole Miss junior middle blocker Sasha Ratliff was one of fifteen student-athletes selected to the 2022 Preseason Volleyball All-SEC Team. Ratliff established herself as one of the top middle-blockers in the SEC last season, earning an all-conference nod as well as AVCA All-Region honors. The Atlanta, Georgia, native paced the team with a school record 113 assisted blocks and was one shy of the single-season total block record with 129. Ratliff was also a top offensive contributor, ranking third in the conference and 28th nationally at a .385 hitting clip.

The Rebels added top talent to their 2022 class with the addition of six signees, including multiple Prep Volleyball Top-150 honorees. Five of the six new Rebels received AVCA High School All-America honors their senior year, tied with Florida for the most in the nation.

Aly Borellis makes her way to Oxford as a four-year letterwinner at Notre Dame Preparatory and a member of the Prep Volleyball Top-150 list. A decorated setter out of Rochester, Michigan, Borellis has racked up multiple All-American honors in her high school career, including a pair of PrepVolleyball First Team honors, AAU All-American laurels and 2021 AVCA First Team All-American honors.

Middle blocker Tessa Jones joins the Rebels as a Prep Volleyball Top-150 recruit and 2021 AVCA Honorable Mention High School All-American. In her four-year career at Seton High School in Cleves, Ohio, Jones tallied 606 kills and racked up 144 total blocks.

Outside hitter Shayla Meyer closed out her high school career with over 1,700 kills. The Superior, Nebraska, native was named first team All-Conference three years in a row, found a spot on the C-2 Volleyball All-State first team in 2020 and 2021 AVCA Honorable Mention All-American honors.

Ready for her first season in a Rebel uniform, Vivian Miller comes to campus as a highly touted recruit out of Jupiter, Florida, being named to the Prep Volleyball Top-100, AVCA Phenom List, AVCA Best and Brightest First Team and 2021 AVCA Second Team All-American honors. At Jupiter High School, the outside hitter totaled 500 kills in 154 sets played.

Cammy Niesen, listed as a defensive specialist, hopes to make an impact for the Rebels at the libero position. The 2021 AVCA Second Team High School All-American graduated as the all-time dig leader at Roger Bacon High School, where she led the Miami Valley Conference in digs as a senior. Niesen was also named first team All-District, District Player of the Year and first team All-State in 2020.

Outside hitter Emma Schwieger caps off the freshmen talent. The Bishop Moore Catholic High School grad was tabbed as the No. 5 player and the No. 1 right side in Florida for the class of 2022 and was listed as one of Prep Volleyball’s 2022 players to watch.

After establishing herself as one of the top middle-blockers in the SEC last season, Sasha Ratliff received an invitation to the Women’s National Team Open Program in Colorado Springs, Colorado, this past February. The junior spent three days training with some of the top athletes in the nation as part of the selection process for the U.S. Women’s National Team and the 2022 U.S. Women’s Collegiate National Team.

Follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissVB, Facebook at Ole Miss Volleyball, and on Instagram at @olemissvb.