In the finale of the Holiday Inn-University Plaza Invitational, Ole Miss continued its winning streak, taking down Samford 3-1 from E.A. Diddle Arena Saturday morning. The Rebels 8-0 start to the season is their best off the season 8-0 for the first time since 2007.
Middle blocker Sasha Ratliff was tabbed as the tournament MVP after racking up 36 kills and 14 blocks through three matches. Today, the sophomore totaled nine kills and eight blocks. Payton Brgoch totaled double-digit kills for the second match in a row, with 13, while Anna Bair led the squad with 13. Kylee McLaughlin recorded 41 assists, continuing her six-match streak with 30 plus. Three Rebels accounted for double-digit digs, with Sam Burgio leading with 13.
After a 6-0 scoring run from the Bulldogs, Samford started the first set with the momentum leading at 7-3. Schnitta broke up the run with her second kill of the set as the Rebels began to work their way back. A 3-0 scoring run with kills from Bair and Brgoch turned the energy to the opposite side of the court, despite still trailing 14-11. Yet another 3-0 run brought Ole Miss within one of Samford at 18-17. Samford attempted to pull away, yet the Rebels did not quit as a 3-0 run with back-to-back Bair kills tied up the set at 21 all. Neither team would let up, yet Ole Miss stopped two straight-set points as Brgoch racked up back-to-back kills to tie the set again at 24. However, the call was challenged and reversed, allowing Samford to take the point and the set, 25-23.
The second set continued to play just as tight as the first, with both teams trading points back and forth through seven. Back-to-back Ratliff kills and a Riley Fischer ace put Ole Miss in the lead and on a 3-0 run at 9-7. The Rebels continued to press on the gas as the run continued 10-2 to take control going up 16-9. Two straight Bair kills extended the lead to 21-11 as set point inched closer. After Samford battled back to take a few more points, it was Ole Miss who ultimately held the upper hand to win set two, 25-17.
Both teams traded blows early in the third set, with the score tied up through 13. A 4-0 Ole Miss run led by Schnitta with a kill and a block put Ole Miss in control, leading 17-13. The Bulldogs challenged back to pull within one, as Ole Miss led 21-20. Brgoch took charge with two kills in a 4-0 run to give Ole Miss the set win 25-22 and a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set.
An early 5-0 Samford run allowed the Bulldogs to build a lead at 7-4. The Rebels continued to climb back throughout the set, but the Bulldog offense continued to hit at a high .410 clip throughout the set. The Rebels did not quit, piecing together a 7-0 run after trailing 16-9, to even up the set at 16 all. The two teams continued to fight before a 6-1 Ole Miss run highlighted by a McLaughlin ace put the squad up by three at 24-21. The Bulldogs halted two straight match points, followed by a block to tie the set at 24. Bair came out swinging with her 13th kill to force match point, while Brgoch and Schnitta took care of business with a block at the net to claim the set 26-24 and the match 3-1.
Next up, Ole Miss heads to Bloomington next week for its final non-conference tournament of the season at the Indiana Invitational. The Rebels will square off against Chicago State, Thursday, Sept. 16, at 4 p.m. CT, followed by two matches Friday against Alabama A&M at 11 a.m. and the host Hoosiers at 6 p.m.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports