It went down to the wire, but Ole Miss was able to pick up a gritty 3-2 win after being forced to the brink by Texas A&M inside Reed Arena on Wednesday night.
The Rebels (13-4, 2-4 SEC) jumped out to a 2-0 set lead before the Aggies (11-6, 4-3 SEC) clawed their way back, forcing a fifth set that saw Ole Miss emerge victorious. It was a tough night hitting for both squads, with the Rebels hitting at a .192 clip and the Aggies at just .128, but both defenses shined with at least 80 digs apiece. Anna Bair became the first Rebel since 2018 to notch double-digit kills in nine straight matches, ending the night with 22. In her second start this season in the libero jersey, Riley Fischer totaled a career-high 13 digs, as Sam Burgio led the team with a season-high 15. Kylee McLaughlin racked up 51 assists and 13 digs for her fifth double-double of the season.
The Aggies started off the match on a quick 4-0 run before Aubrey Sultemeier halted it with a kill through the middle, kicking off a 3-0 Rebel run to pull the score to 4-3. Both teams then played tight, with Ole Miss tying up the set at 6-6 and then again through 12-12 before Fischer led the squad behind the line on a 3-0 run to take a 14-12 edge. A 4-2 Aggie run tied the set up once again at 16-16, but a 4-0 Rebel run allowed them to take control to go up 20-16 as set point loomed. Ole Miss led by as many as seven to ultimately take set one 25-18, its first set one win in SEC play.
The second set began the same way as the first, with both teams playing close until a 4-0 Rebel run allowed them to take a 5-4 lead. A&M tied things up at five all and the set remained tied through six as Ole Miss capitalized off of Aggie errors to build a 10-7 lead. Ole Miss fought back to force ties at 11-11 and 16-16 before breaking through for a 3-0 run to take a 19-16 advantage. After a Texas A&M timeout, the Aggies fired back with three straight points to tie the set again at 19. The set remained tied through 21 until two straight Aggie errors put the Rebels up by two at 23-21. A 3-1 A&M run tied up the set once again at 24, and remained so until 27-27 when two straight Bair kills helped seal the set, 29-27, and put the Rebels up 2-0.
Texas A&M bounced back with a 5-1 lead to open the third set and continued to grow its lead up by five at 12-7. Ole Miss worked to cut the deficit to two at 13-11 and pulled within four at 20-16, yet it wasn’t enough as A&M ultimately took the set, 25-16, to prevent the sweep and force a set four.
A 3-0 run at the start of the fourth set propelled Ole Miss to take an early 4-2 lead, as the two teams continued to fight neck-and-neck. Ole Miss kept a steady two-point lead at 12-10, and Bair kept firing as her two kills in a 3-0 run put the Rebels on top by four at 15-11. The Aggies pulled within two at 20-18 and continued to push the Rebels, tying up the set at 23-23. However, Ole Miss was unable to outpower the Aggies, as a 3-1 run allowed them to win the set 26-24 to push the match to five sets.
Ole Miss started off its second fifth-set this season with a big 6-3 lead, thanks in part to a 4-0 run due to Aggie errors. Yet the set was just as much of a battle as the rest of the match, as the Aggies fought back and tied up the set at 10. A 3-1 Rebel run highlighted by a Bria Samilton ace put Ole Miss up 14-12 at match point. An Aggie kill put them within one at 14-13, but Anna Bair’s 22nd kill of the night halted the comeback to win the set 15-13 for the Rebels, and the match 3-2.
Ole Miss returns home to the Gillom Center this Sunday (October 17) for an in-state showdown with Mississippi State. The match from Oxford will air nationally on SEC Network at 2 p.m. CT.