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It's that busy time of the year with the Ole Miss football, volleyball, men's and women's basketball teams all in action. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was in Ole Miss sports:

- A slow start (17-0 first-quarter deficit), a stalled running game (33 carries for 37 yards) and six turnovers (two in the red zone) all had a hand in a 30-0 loss at Arkansas, ending the Rebels' SEC West title hopes. There's not much else to say.

"I told our kids in locker room," Freeze said, '"I don't like the way we finished year two and I don't like the way we played tonight.'

- It's clear Ole Miss misses Laquon Treadwell, not just his production, but also his leadership and playmaking abilities. Playing without the sophomore star for the first time in SEC play, Ole Miss was shut out for the first time this season. The Rebels managed just three plays of 20 or more yards, and their active leading receiver, Vince Sanders, was held without a catch in the contest.

- Give the defense credit for keeping as close as they did for as long as they did. Facing a short field for much of the game, the Ole Miss defense allowed just one touchdown in five trips to the red zone for Arkansas. The Razorbacks started on average from their own 43-yard line and they had scoring drives of 52, 24, 49, 41, 0 and 0 yards, respectively.

- Ole Miss also found itself on the wrong side of history, as Arkansas became the first unranked team to ever shut out two ranked opponents in back-to-back games.

- With Arkansas becoming bowl eligible, an entire division will advance to the postseason for the first time in Southeastern Conference history. What's more impressive, the SEC West is a combined a 38-3 against non-SEC West opponents, including a combined 28-0 against non-conference opponents.

- For the second straight season, both SEC divisions will be determined on the final weekend. Alabama and Missouri each control their destiny, while Georgia needs an Arkansas win over Missouri, and Mississippi State needs a win over Ole Miss and an Auburn win over Alabama. Ole Miss, like Arkansas and Auburn, will play a spoiler role, looking to eliminate Mississippi State from SEC West title contention.

"If you can't get up for that one, you probably don't need to be playing," linebacker Deterrian Shackelford said. "It's everything, it's the Egg Bowl. And for the seniors, it's Senior Day. If I have to motivate people for next week, they probably shouldn't be playing."

- Ole Miss volleyball's Nakeyta Clair set the school single-season kills record in the rally scoring era, putting down nine kills in a four-set loss to No. 6 Florida this past Friday. The Rebels bounced back with a five-set win over Alabama on Sunday, the second match in a four-match homestand to close out the regular season. Ole Miss will host Texas A&M on Friday for Senior Day, where the Rebels will honor the senior trio Marie-Pierre Bakima, Cara Fisher and Rachael Weathersby.

- Father, Rick, and Middle Tennessee State got the best of son, Matt, and Ole Miss, in the first-ever meeting between father and son head coach in NCAA Division I women's basketball history. The result was not what Matt and the Rebels wanted, but the matchup provided a tough test for a young team learning every game and created some buzz and excitement surrounding the program.

- Here's a nice story on Rick and Matt Insell from Will Borthick from the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Check it out.

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team rebounded nicely from a heartbreaking overtime loss to Charleston Southern, rattling off three straight wins over Troy, Southern and Northern Arizona, going into this weekend's game in Niceville, Florida. The Rebels will face Creighton and then either Cincinnati or Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Jays, which return one starter from last year's 27-8 team, is off to a 4-0 start, including a win over No. 18 Oklahoma.

- Head coach Andy Kennedy said he has been surprised by how much he has learned a lot about his team, one that includes five newcomers, and he spoke very honestly about what he has learned through four games: "We're not as tough physically as I would have hoped," said Kennedy after an 80-74 win over Northern Arizona. "We make excuses. I didn't know this group would do that. I know some of it is a defense mechanism. I get that. I have done this a long time. Sometimes, that's the easy way out. It's the default mode. I get it, but we have to get tougher. We have to play to our abilities. I don't think we have played to our ability yet."

Playing in front of a nationally-televised audience on the SEC Network, the Ole Miss volleyball team notched their biggest win of the season, knocking off defending SEC Champion Missouri in three sets. The win also snaps the Tigers' 20-match SEC win streak dating back to Nov. 23, 2012.

"It's huge," said junior Nakeyta Clair who led the team with 14 kills and a .500 hitting percentage. "It shows not only us, but it shows our fans that we can do it this year. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves this year. It didn't faze us they were SEC champs last year."

The Rebels hit a game-best .324 to win the first set 25-18 but fell behind 22-16 in the second set. Coming out of a timeout, Ole Miss finished the set on a 9-1 run to take a 2-0 lead into halftime. The Rebels forced seven attack errors during the rally including two blocks from freshman Taylor Alexander, who finished with a career-high eight blocks.

"She had a lot of big kills, even though there weren't many," said head coach Steven McRoberts of Alexander. "She had them at some really clutch times for us and then she had some huge blocks for us. She had eight blocks on the evening. She created a lot momentum changes for us with the blocks."

Ole Miss fell behind again in the third set, trailing by as many as four points, before finding another answer, rallying to tie the set at 20-20. The Rebels went ahead for good on a kill from sophomore Melanie Crow at 21-21 and then they clinched the match on another attack error from Missouri.

Errors, where Ole Miss had 16 to Missouri's 22, and blocks, where Ole Miss had 18 to Missouri's 12, were two areas you could point to on the stat sheet, but the difference in the match compared to the first weekend of SEC play, McRoberts said, was energy and aggressiveness.

"We kept our aggressiveness," McRoberts said. "Against South Carolina, as the match went on, our confidence starting going down, and you saw hitters tipping a lot and our passing was getting worse and we were becoming more tentative. As for tonight, we had our moments where we did that, but it wasn't for long stretches."

With the win, Ole Miss improves to 15-2 overall, 1-2 in SEC play, ahead of a one-week break before the Rebels return to action on the road at Arkansas.

"We knew it was going to be a tough match," McRoberts said. "Any time we can win in the SEC, it's big for our program. Of course going into a week break, it's a huge. We have a week to prepare for Arkansas."

With back-to-back tournament titles to open the season, the Rebels are 7-0 to start the season for the first time since 2007 and are also the only Southeastern Conference team still undefeated.

"We feel like at this point in our season that the team is really buying into our process and really holding true to the values that we've instilled in them," head coach Steven McRoberts said. "It's like we're seeing a rebirth of our volleyball program here. We're working to create a different culture. We've had a few demons that we've had to kill along the way. We were able to do some of that this past weekend."

Among those demons were five five-set losses and six four-set losses, as Ole Miss posted a 14-17 mark last season.

After the Rebels did not drop a set on their way to capturing the Buffalo Classic, they dropped their first set of the season against Memphis at the Memphis Invitational. Ole Miss later saved a match point 14-13 in the fifth and decisive set before scoring the next two points to clinch the match.

"We talked about it during the fifth set," McRoberts said. "We made the changeover and we got on pretty good run, before Memphis called timeout. I told the team, 'This is a point in our season where we can define who we are. If you guys want to change how you think of ourselves, we have to win these types of matches.' 

"I was really proud of them that even with Memphis having a match point, we fought it off and won in a tough environment. I wouldn't say it was a huge step, but It was definitely a step in the right direction for us. The huge step will come when we're doing those types of things against SEC opponents."

McRoberts noted the team's aggressiveness and confidence, making plays and executing the game plan in critical moments against Memphis. The Rebels turned around and defeated Arkansas State and UT-Martin in four sets the next day to capture the Memphis Invitational.

"Our drive to win is so much clearer than it was last year," said junior Nakeyta Clair, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week. "We know what we have to do to win. We know we have to win games like that to get to where we want to be at the end."

Ole Miss wraps up nonconference play with their first seven matches at home starting with the Magnolia Invitational this weekend. McRoberts said fans can expect to see a program that's getting better and a program that's going to be competitive all season and in the seasons to come. He's also aware of fans' expectations for the program.

"From our standpoint, we have told the team: Fans want to come see winners," McRoberts said. "If we're trying to convince someone who's watching other events on campus, what would make them come watch you? It's going to be winning more. That's the business end of it. If they're coming to watch, they are coming expecting us to win."

Here are three pieces to keep in mind as we look ahead to the Ole Miss volleyball team's season-opening weekend in Buffalo, New York, starting with Canisius on Friday morning, the first of four matches over three days at the Buffalo Classic.

Staying with the Process

A program with three NCAA Tournament appearances in its history, Ole Miss is coming off a 14-17 season and was picked to finish 10th in the league. The overall goal remains going undefeated every weekend, but playing with confidence and playing within their system are also part of the process to build a successful program in the Southeastern Conference.

"The bottom line for us as coaches is to not lose our vision of what the process is, based on putting some band-aids on things just to get a win," McRoberts said. "In the long run, if we do things the right way we're going to get the wins. And if we stick with what we have been doing, we're going to get wins. We need to keep coaching the same way we have been coaching."

Depth on Both Sides of the Net

McRoberts said Monday they hadn't 100 percent settled on a lineup, and they will go into the weekend with two lineups - more than likely trying each one in their matches on the first day against Canisius and Siena. For McRoberts, it speaks to the team's depth and ability to play different players in different positions. That depth, he said, also helps in practice to prepare his team for live matches.

"You want, like any sport wants, it to be competitive on the other side in practice," McRoberts said. "The other side of the net pushes our rotation every day. That's what makes us better. It's fun when you can get into a match and your team is thinking, 'Our other side of the net is better than this. We should handle this team.' From a practice standpoint, you try to make it feel like a match every day, so when you know you have multiple people who can play both sides it's nice."

Who to Watch for

Sophomore setter Aubrey Edie and junior middle blocker Nakeyta Clair, McRoberts noted, are players who have stood out through the spring and fall. Edie, who made the U.S. National Collegiate Team, led the team in assists per set and double-doubles, while Clair led the team in kills and hitting percentage last season. But there's talent throughout the roster beyond them.

"We have multiple players who on any given night can really stand out," McRoberts said. "That's the fun part, too. We have some athleticism. For us, maybe it will be some sleepless nights wondering who's going to show up. We have a lot of players who can have great nights."

Clair, Edie Key 2-1 Week For Rebels

Coming off its first and only bye week of the season, Ole Miss wrapped up a five-game, 10-day stretch, which included a top-10 team in Missouri in Columbia, Mo., and three other road matches

The Rebels finished 2-3 over the five games, which included a 2-1 mark this past week, with 3-1 road wins over Mississippi State and Tennessee, and then a 3-1 home loss to Texas A&M Sunday.

"We did some really good things," head coach Joe Getzin said. "It's a process to learn how to compete more than one day and having to come back and do it again even when you're a little bit fatigue, and hopefully they learn that as young players to be able to respond."

Sophomore Nakeyta Clair had a team-high 47 kills for the week, including a career-high 19 kills against Mississippi State. She also had 15 kills against Tennessee and a team-high 13 kills against Texas A&M. Clair ranks third all-time in single-season program history in block solos (21), block assists (88) and total blocks (109).

"I was looking at the court and finding a spot to put the ball, and it's been working pretty well," Clair said. "That's a big thing, and picking up my blocking."

A large part of Clair's success can also be credited to freshman setter Aubrey Edie, who is averaging a team-high 9.22 assists per set, ninth best in the SEC and second best among freshmen in the SEC. She also had a pair of double-doubles this week with 42 assists and 12 digs against Mississippi State and 47 assists and 10 digs against Tennessee.

"Our relationship has improved so much since the first game," Clair said. "She knows me now and where to put the ball for me. If we mess up, she knows it's OK, because she will set me again. We have grown a lot."


The Ole Miss volleyball team won its first tournament championship of the season, with three wins this weekend in the Rebel Classic, its second tournament at the Gillom Sports Center.

Ole Miss swept Southern Miss, 3-0, on Friday night, then swept Chattanooga, 3-0, on Saturday afternoon, and clinched the tournament championship with a 3-1 win over Louisiana, winning three straight sets after dropping the first set.

"We proved that we can win, even when we're not on the top of our game," head coach Joe Getzin said. "We still have things to improve on, but the biggest thing is we took care of business in all three matches.



Sophomore Nakeyta Clair, an SEC All-Freshman selection last year, won Tournament MVP honors, while freshmen Melanie Crow and Aubrey Edie were named to the All-Tournament team. Clair led the team with 12 kills against Southern Miss and 13 kills against Chattanooga.

"I connected well with Aubrey my setter, and it seemed like every time she set me the ball, I got a kill, and I got on a roll this weekend," Clair said.

In the tournament finale, Louisiana won the first set, 25-20, then behind five kills from senior Kara Morgan, Ole Miss rallied to win the second set, 25-19. The Rebels closed things out, winning the third set, 25-15, and the fourth set, 25-14.

"We did a great job of adjusting and putting pressure back on them," Getzin said of the Louisiana win. "Lousiana played a great match in the first set, and we got a little frustrated with that, then we settled down and started putting pressure on them, and things started rolling our way."

Sophomore Ty Laporte led all Rebels with 10 kills and 12.5 points, followed by Morgan with nine kills and 11 points, while Tournament MVP Nakeyta Clair had nine seven kills. to go along with two block assists. Edie led the team with 33 assists, and freshman Kristen Brashear led the team with 14 digs.

The Rebels finish nonconference play with a 10-3 record and continue their five-match home stand, as they open Southeastern Conference play next weekend against Arkansas on Friday (7:00 p.m. CT) and Florida on Sunday (1:30 p.m. CT).

"We're excited to be opening up at home," Getzin said. "I like our team. We're doing good things. We're young, but we keep coming and getting strong every day."

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