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Ole Miss Volleyball To Begin Spring Competition

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Ole Miss Volleyball To Begin Spring Competition

Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

While football is gearing up for the annual Regions Bank Grove Bowl Saturday, the Ole Miss volleyball team is preparing for its first spring competition. The Rebels will travel to Franklin, Tennessee Saturday for the Alliance Tournament featuring 18 collegiate teams.

Ole Miss will begin the day with a match against East Tennessee State at 10:15 a.m., followed by Lipscomb University at 11:30 a.m. The Rebels will conclude the tournament against Murray State at 2 p.m.

“This weekend will be fun,” head coach Steven McRoberts said. “We’ve been doing a lot more scrimmaging lately, which has that preseason type feel to it, so we are ready to see somebody else on the other side of the net.”

One change from previous years under McRoberts, the team started its full spring practice schedule after spring break.

“We held off this spring not getting into our 20 hour weeks until after spring break, and I haven’t done that in years. Typically, we would start a week or two before we started this year and then we ended about the middle of April. Now we’re going through the end of April. We’re going hard for five straight weeks and I’ve seen a little bit of a difference. I like the way we’re doing things right now.”

In addition to changes on the court, McRoberts and his staff have seen changes in the weight room as the Rebels put up 52 personal records.

“I think it’s been our best spring yet as far as improvements players have made, team chemistry and team culture. Everything seems to be coming together with this group. They’ve put in the work in all those aspects. It’s been a lot of fun to work with them every day, they bring 100 percent effort and such great attitudes.”

Ole Miss welcomes back 10 players from the 2016 team including starters Lexi Thompson and Kate Gibson, who ranked among the top players in the SEC in kills and points per set. 

Thompson led the SEC in double-doubles (21) and set the single-season kills record (437), while Gibson followed right behind with 427 kills. 

“They’re both having tremendous springs from a physicality and leadership standpoint,” McRoberts said. “We’re expecting big seasons out of them again. Just like last season they’re probably going to be a focus on offense and defense, since they’re both our six rotation outside hitter.”

In 2016, the Rebels set a single-season record with 1,905 digs and ranked second in the SEC in digs per set (15.24). A big part of that was the play of Caroline Adams, who came into the role of libero last year and led the team with 376 digs. Starting the last 12 matches as the team’s libero, Adams ranked among the conference leaders in digs per set (3.71).

“Caroline has picked up right where she left off,” McRoberts said. “The way she’s playing in the gym right now, she’s in my opinion, one of the best libero’s in the conference. That’s a nice piece for us to have. We narrowly missed on leading the league in digs last season, and we believe with Caroline and Nicole (Purcell) that we’ll be right there again.” 

One position that the Rebels have not had to worry about for the first three years under McRoberts, is setter. With Aubrey Edie set to graduate in May, the Rebels now look to sophomore Jordan Fate and incoming freshman Lauren Bars to compete for the position.

“Jordan’s doing a great job running the show this spring and getting better every day. That’s kind of been the theme of this spring is improvement, and we’re seeing it with every single player. Jordan’s starting to get more comfortable in the setter role after sitting for a season and watching Aubrey do it. It’s one of those things that takes time to embrace and understand the difference in that role in high school versus that role at the SEC level.”

Another position that is up for grabs this year is middle blocker, where mid-year transfer Delaney Gallagher is battling with returning middle blockers Nayo Warnell and Audrey Fischer

“Delaney is learning and doing a good job competing with Nayo and Audrey,” McRoberts said. “We’re seeing out of her what we were hoping to see.”

The Rebels will continue spring competition at Central Arkansas on April 23 and then conclude it at Tulane on April 29.

For more information on Ole Miss Volleyball, follow the Rebels on Twitter, @OleMissVB, on Facebook at OleMissVolleyball and on Instagram at OleMissVB. Also follow Coach McRoberts on Twitter, @CoachMcRoberts.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Ole Miss’ Noble Makes NFF Hampshire Honor Society

Nathan Noble runs out on the field as the Rebels take on the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday at Vaught-Hemmingway stadium.

For his hard work on the football field and in the classroom, Ole Miss kicker Nathan Noble has been distinguished as a member of the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF announced this week.

The NFF Hampshire Honor Society is comprised of college football players from all divisions of play who each maintained a cumulative 3.2 GPA or better throughout their college careers. A total of 1,089 players from 297 schools qualified for membership in the society’s 11th year, both new single-year records in the history of the program.

“We are pleased to see a record number of colleges and universities embrace the Hampshire Honor Society this year,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “Over the past decade, it has become a powerful vehicle for schools to recognize their college football players who have distinguished themselves both academically and athletically, and we congratulate the schools and each of these young men for their commitment to excellence in all aspects of their lives.”

Noble, who completed his Ole Miss career in 2016, was a four-year letterman and served three years as the Rebels’ primary kickoff specialist. The Greenville, Mississippi, native graduated cum laude in December 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in managerial finance and has been pursuing his master’s in business administration since then. He made the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll five times and was a semifinalist for the 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by the NFF.

Past Ole Miss members of the Hampshire Honor Society include Dillon Barrett (2016), Matt Brown (2016), Quintavius Burdette (2016), Deterrian Shackelford (2015), Tyler Campbell (2014), Chris Conley (2014), Andrew Ritter (2014), Joel Kight (2013) and Wesley Phillips (2011). 

Qualifications for membership in the NFF Hampshire Honor Society include:

  • Being a starter or a significant contributor in one’s last year of eligibility (or a senior who has declared for the NFL Draft) at an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III or an NAIA college or university;
  • Achieving a 3.2 cumulative grade point average throughout entire course of undergraduate study; and
  • Meeting all NCAA/NAIA-mandated progress towards degree requirements.

The NFF Hampshire Honor Society capitalizes on the NFF’s National Scholar-Athlete program by greatly expanding the number of scholar-athletes the NFF can recognize each year. The program further strengthens the organization’s leadership role in encouraging academic performance by the student-athletes who play football at the 777 colleges and universities with football programs nationwide.

The initiative has honored 7,723 student-athletes since its inception, and the program has experienced growth every year in either members or school participation since its launch in 2007.

Jon F. Hanson, the chairman and founder of The Hampshire Companies, provided the endowment to launch the NFF Hampshire Honor Society in 2007. He made the contribution as part of his legacy to the organization after serving as NFF Chairman from 1994-2006. He currently serves the organization as the chairman emeritus. Each player awarded with membership in this year’s Honor Society will receive a certificate commemorating their achievement.

“It was my great privilege to endow the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, which has greatly increased the number of college student-athletes the NFF has been able to recognize during the past 11 years,” said Hanson. “Nationwide there are thousands of football players excelling in the classroom, and they’re going on to be great leaders. The NFF Hampshire Honor Society continues to grow and allows us to shine a light on their hard work.”

“We have honored more than 7,700 student-athletes in the last 11 years thanks to Jon Hanson’s generosity,” said NFF Chairman and Ole Miss legend Archie Manning. “We are grateful for his passionate belief in the scholar-athlete ideal, and the Hampshire Honor Society allows us to showcase the names of tomorrow’s leaders while inspiring future generations to follow in their footsteps.”

The Hampshire Honor Society represents an important component in the organization’s rich history as an innovator in promoting the scholar-athlete ideal, which began in 1959 with the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards. Launched with a donation from Hall of Fame coach Earl “Red” Blaik, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, became the first initiative in history to grant postgraduate scholarships based on a player’s combined academic success, football performance and community leadership. Since its inception, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards program has awarded $11.1 million to 828 top scholars and community leaders. 

Each recipient of an NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award receives an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. Additionally, The William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments and displayed at its official home inside the New York Athletic Club, is given to one member of each year’s class as the absolute best scholar-athlete in the nation. The winner of the Campbell Trophy, claimed by First-Team Academic All-American and three-time All-MAC quarterback Zach Terrell (Western Michigan) in 2016, receives a total scholarship of $25,000 and a 24-inch, 25-pound bronze trophy. Through its chapter network, the NFF also awards an additional $1 million to local high school student-athletes, bringing the NFF’s annual scholarship distribution total to more than $1.3 million.

Follow Ole Miss Football on Twitter (@OleMissFB), Facebook and Instagram. For more information, visit www.OleMissSports.com.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports 

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