By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss volleyball team is off to an 8-0 start to the 2021 season after defeating No. 15 Western Kentucky at the Holiday Inn-University Plaza Invitational.
It was the Rebels’ first win against a top-15 team since 2010.
Head coach Kayla Banwarth met with the media in her weekly press conference on Monday and discussed the weekend.
“Big weekend for Ole Miss volleyball this past weekend, obviously knocking off No. 15 Western Kentucky on their home court was huge,” Banwarth said. “As well as having to fend off two scrappy teams in UT Martin and Samford. The girls did well and played well obviously and emptied the tank by the end of the weekend and were pretty exhausted. Three matches in two days is no joke.”
This weekend the Rebels remain on the road as they take on the Indiana Hoosiers out of the Big Ten before stepping into conference play next week.
Banwarth added that this weekend will be another big test and a good challenge for us heading into SEC play next Wednesday against Auburn.
Banwarth and her coach staff turn around the program since last season. The staff brought nine new faces to the team this season in four transfers and five freshmen.
“We brought in a setter Kylee McLaughlin who was the Big 12 Setter of the Year in 2018. Brought in two liberos, one from Maryland, which competed in arguably the best volleyball conference in the country and the other from Florida who competed for a high-level program, a top-10 program,” Banwarth said. “We brought in a lot of key pieces that are seeing the court this year, and plugging them into our system, which we had another year to train which are two big factors in the turnaround.”
For Banwarth this season, she sees that the team is on track. The coach added that she keeps high hopes and low expectations.
“We might be a little ahead of where I thought we would be at with this win over Western Kentucky, but we have a very steep mountain that we’ve projected to climb but I think we’re right on track with where we want to be right now,” she said.
Ole Miss returns to action on Thursday afternoon as they travel to Bloomington, Indiana, to take part in the Indiana Invitational. The Rebels will face Chicago State, Alabama A&M and the host school, Indiana. Their first match will be against Chicago State on Thursday at 4 p.m.