After a slow start, Ole Miss came together when it needed to most to pick up its third straight win in SEC play in a 3-2 five-set victory over South Carolina Friday night from the Gillom Center.
In a match dominated by Sasha Ratliff, Ole Miss (16-5, 5-5 SEC) utilized a strong third set against South Carolina (12-9, 4-9 SEC) to claim its first win over the Gamecocks since 2017. Ratliff carried the Rebel middles, as the sophomore had a career-high night with a total of 22 kills and added eight blocks. On the outside, Anna Bair recorded her third match of the season with 20 or more kills, finishing with 20. After earning SEC Setter of the Week last weekend, Kylee McLaughlin dished out 54 assists and added 17 digs for her eighth double-double this year. In the backrow, Riley Fischer continues to anchor the Rebels as she racked up a career-high 21 digs.
Ole Miss brought the heat from the middle to begin the first set, as Ratliff anchored the Rebels on an early 5-0 run to go up 6-1 on the Gamecocks. The Rebels continued to extend their lead by seven at 10-3, until South Carolina began to chip away, cutting the Ole Miss lead to two at 13-11. The Gamecocks tied things up at 13 all, but the Rebels utilized quick point spurts to build another lead at 18-15. South Carolina met back up with the Rebels to tie the set at 18 all to begin a fight to 25. The Gamecock comeback was too much for Ole Miss to overcome, as South Carolina claimed set one, 25-22.
The Rebels struggled out of the gate to start off set two, as South Carolina jumped out to a 7-3 lead before an Ole Miss called timeout. After entering off the bench, Payton Brgoch provided a spark as the Rebels worked to pull within three of the Gamecocks, still trailing 11-8. Ratliff continued to display her power from the middle as Ole Miss continued to work its way back into the set within two at 18-16. The Rebels tied up the set for the first time at 21 all with set point looming. A back-and-forth battle began, yet the Rebels refused to give up. With the set tied at 24 all, back-to-back Rebel kills from Brgoch and Bair gave Ole Miss the set two win, 26-24.
Both teams continued to play tight in the third set, until a four-point Rebel run allowed them to take control early 7-3. Ole Miss worked to increase its lead, as a 3-0 run put them up 12-7 and forced the Gamecocks to call timeout. Ratliff continued her career setting night, owning a 3-0 run with two blocks and her 15th kill to put Ole Miss up by seven at 18-11. South Carolina worked to cut the Rebel lead to five at 22-17, but Ole Miss remained strong to take set three, 25-18, and go up 2-1 in the match.
South Carolina came out hot to start the fourth set, holding off the Rebel offense to build a four-point lead at 10-6. A Lauren Thompson kill cut into the Gamecock lead as Ole Miss battled to remain in the set at 13-10. South Carolina refused to back down, despite a Rebel charge, and held onto its lead to win set four 25- and force a fifth set.
The fired-up Rebels jumped out to a 3-0 lead in their fourth fifth-set match this season. Back-to-back points from McLaughlin from a kill and an ace, gave Ole Miss a three-point lead at 8-5 and forced the Gamecocks to call timeout. South Carolina charged back to tie up the set at 13 all, yet back-to-back kills from Ratliff and Bair sealed the set for the Rebels, 15-13, to give them the 3-2 victory.
The Rebels are back in action tomorrow night (October 30) for the final match against the Gamecocks from the Gillom Center. The match will be available to stream on SEC Network + at 6 p.m. CT.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports