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Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 15-21)

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Sept. 15-21, 2014

Volleyball
- Ole Miss went 4-0 to capture the Rebel Classic and improve to 14-0 on the season.
- Through four weeks of the season, the Rebels have equaled last year's win total (14-17).
- Sophomore setter Aubrey Edie was named the Rebel Classic MVP ... Edie tallied 127 assists, (9.77 per set), to earn her fourth consecutive all-tournament honor ... The Fayetteville, Arkansas, native also posted 12 total blocks ... Junior middle blockers Nakeyta Clair and Ty Laporte were also named to the Rebel Classic All-Tournament Team ... Laporte finished with 34 kills and hit .500, while adding 13 total blocks to earn her third straight all-tournament honor ... Clair posted 30 kills on a .533 attack percentage and added a team-leading 20 total blocks, including seven solo.
- In the win over Samford, the Rebels hit a school-record .431 with just five errors.
- The Rebels rank first in the SEC in hitting percentage (.286), kills per set (13.98) and assists per set (13.06).

Soccer
- The Ole Miss soccer team went 1-1 on the week with a 1-0 win at Mississippi State on Friday before falling at UCF 4-0 on Sunday.
- Addie Forbus scored in under a minute to give the Rebels a 1-0 win at Mississippi State and a second consecutive win in the Magnolia Cup.
- The shutout win over Mississippi State was the fourth of the season for the Rebels and 21st career shutout for senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick.
- McCormick needs one more shutout to tie the career record of 22 set by Brittany Gillespie in 2003.

Women's Golf
- The Ole Miss women's golf team finished 17th at the 2014 Cougar Classic at Yemans Hall in Charleston, South Carolina. Stani Schiavone was the Rebels' top finisher after tying for 30th-place with a three-day score of 219.
- Sophomore Madisen Bentley, who is playing her first season at Ole Miss after transferring from Portland State, made her debut in the Ole Miss lineup last week. She posted her best round in the third round with a 4-over-par 76.
-Rookie Sofia Idoyaga had her best round of collegiate golf to date at the Cougar Classic, posting a 3-over-par 75 in the final round, while draining a career-best five birdies.

Men's Golf
- Sophomore Ben Wolcott fired an impressive 1-under-par 70 in the final round of the DICK'S Collegiate Challenge Cup to tie for 18th-place, marking his fifth top-20 finish of his Rebel career.
- As a team, Ole Miss finished in eighth-place. The Rebels have placed in the top 10 in their first two tournaments of the season.
- In the ACC-SEC Conference Challenge, junior Connor Davis carded Ole Miss' only win against Clemson. Davis downed the Tigers' Miller Capps 3&2 in match play.

Men's Tennis
- The Rebels kicked off the season at the SEC Fall Classic in Gainesville, Florida. Junior Stefan Lindmark and sophomore Ricardo Jorge teamed up in their first tournament together to reach the semifinals in doubles, but lost a tight match 8-7(6).
- In singles, senior William Kallberg advanced to the third round. Jorge finished as the runner-up in the singles consolation after they did not play the final due to Ole Miss' travel plans. One of his three wins included a triumph over the 46th-ranked player in the nation, who teammate Stefan Lindmark defeated Friday in the main draw first round.

Rebels Finish Non-Conference on High Note

The Ole Miss Volleyball team remained undefeated at 14-0 and matched last year's win total with a 4-0 weekend at the Rebel Classic capped by wins over Lamar (3-0) and Jackson State (3-1) Saturday.

The last three sets against Jackson State tell the story for the Rebels entering Southeastern Conference play next weekend on the road at South Carolina and Florida.

"Our team did what it's done all season so far and that's respond to challenges," head coach Steven McRoberts said. "We challenged them in between two and three, and you can see from the score that they responded to that."

After cruising to a 25-12 win over Jackson State in the first set, their then-most lopsided win in a set this season, Ole Miss dropped the second set 25-23 hitting just .194 and committing seven errors.

Coming out of halftime, the Rebels won the first five points on the way to a 25-13 win in the third set and clinched the match with a 25-5 win in the fourth set, their most lopsided win in a set of this season.

Ole Miss hit .389 for the match, including .500 in the third set and .545 in the fourth set. Junior Ty Laporte led the way hitting .455 with 13 kills, followed by sophomore Melanie Crow hitting .409 with 10 kills.

"We had a really good stretch through these four matches (this weekend), where we had a lot of low-error attacking games and where we had really high hitting percentages," McRoberts said. "If we take care of business in the second set, we're breaking the record that we broke yesterday as far as hitting percentage. 

"When you have three sets where you're hitting over .500, that's pretty nice. It's definitely a mental thing in there to all of a sudden lose a set when you hit over .500 in the other three sets."

Despite the dropped second set against Jackson State, the first-year head coach is generally pleased with the confidence gained from the first four weeks of the season but also stressed the importance of performing well and winning tight games once SEC play starts.

"Hopefully, it stirs interest around Ole Miss that people want to come out and watch this team," McRoberts said. "One of the questions that was asked of me early on was how to get more fan support, and I said fans want to come watch winners. They want to watch teams that are exciting but also winning. That's something that hopefully we're starting to establish here.

"I feel confident with this team right now. I like where we're at. I like their mentality right now."

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 8-14)

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Sept. 8-14, 2014

Volleyball
- Ole Miss captured the Magnolia Invitational this past weekend to improve to 10-0, its best start in school history.
- The Rebels downed UAB and Mercer 3-0 and then defeated Jacksonville State 3-1 after dropping the first set for the first time all year.
- Freshman Lexi Thompson was named the tournament MVP, while Ty Laporte and Aubrey Edie joined her on the all-tournament team.
- Thompson averaged 2.80 kills, 3.00 digs and 0.50 blocks and aces per set to lead the Rebels to the title. She tallied a career-high 18 kills, and a career-best 17 digs in the 3-1 win against Jacksonville State. With the Rebels dropping the first set for the first time all year, Thompson tallied 7 of her 18 kills in the second set, as the Rebels evened the match.
- Laporte finished the tournament with 28 kills and 9 blocks and hit .375. Edie posted 122 assists (12.2 per set), to earn her third straight all-tournament team honor.

Football
- Ole Miss used a high-octane offense and suffocating defense to claim a 56-15 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in its home opener Saturday.
- The Rebels (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) moved up from No. 14 to No. 10 in the Associated Press poll, their first top-10 ranking since week four of the 2009 season.
- The Rebel offense produced its second-highest scoring output of the Hugh Freeze era and accumulated 554 total yards in the rout.
- Bo Wallace completed 23 of 28 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns, notching his third straight 300-yard performance and the 10th of his career, which ties him with Eli Manning for the school record.
- Vince Sanders set career highs of eight catches, 125 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half.
- The Rebels have surrendered only two touchdowns to their opponents this year and rank fourth nationally with just 10.3 points allowed per game.
- The Rebel defense snagged three more interceptions against the Ragin' Cajuns and now leads the nation with eight this season.

Soccer
- The Ole Miss soccer team went 2-0 on the week with a pair of shutout victories over Austin Peay (2-0) and Middle Tennessee (4-0) on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
- Junior forward Olivia Harrison led the Rebels against the Lady Governors on Friday with a pair of goals in a three-minute span. Ole Miss out-shot Austin Peay 18-7 on the road in Clarksville, Tennessee.
- Unlike Ole Miss' win over Austin Peay, the Rebels spread out the scoring against Middle Tennessee with four different goal scorers, including sophomore Georgia Russell's first career goal, and one goal each from Addie Forbus, Gretchen Harknett and Jennifer Miller.
- The two shutouts by senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick were her first two of the season and give her 19 for her career.

Women's Tennis
- Freshman Arianne Hartono won the Country Club of Little Rock Invitational on Sunday for her first title with the Rebels. In the final, she defeated Houston's top player, Desponita Vogasari, who is ranked No. 68 in the preseason ITA Singles Rankings.
- Before winning the singles title, Hartono teamed with junior Mai El Kamash to capture the doubles title in their first tournament together. The duo defeated 59th-ranked and the top-seeded duo of Arkansas, Yang Pang and Sasha Shkorupeieva, 8-6 in the final. On Saturday, Hartono and El Kamash took out the No. 2 seed from the University of Houston.

Women's Golf
- The Rebels opened the 2014-15 season with the Memphis FedEx Intercollegiate (Sept. 8-9). Ole Miss took third-place with a score of 886 and Abby Newton claimed medalist honors. The third-place finish was Ole Miss' highest finish since taking runner-up honors at the UNC Tar Heel Classic in 2012-13.
- Newton's win at the Memphis FedEx Intercollegiate was the first individual title for the Rebels since Natalie Gleadall won the Cougar Classic in 2010.
- Several Rebels set new career marks at the tournament. Newton's second-round score of 68 was an 18-hole career-low, while her three-day tournament score of 210 was also a new 54-hole career low. Ole Miss' 886 is the sixth lowest total for the Rebels.

Men's Golf
- The Ole Miss men's golf team claimed fourth-place at the Sam Hall Intercollegiate in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
- Junior Connor Davis finished the tournament with a career-low, three-round score of 208. He tied for fifth-place, which is a career-best for the two-year letterwinner. 
- Senior Joe Lewis and sophomore Ben Wolcott fired career-low tournament scores of 212 and 213, respectively.

Men's Cross Country
- The Ole Miss men's cross country team grabbed a third-place finish in the Commodore Classic, besting both SEC rivals Mississippi State and Vanderbilt at the event.
- Just as in the first meet of the season, freshman Mark Robertson posted the best time for the Rebels. His time of 25:00.31 in the 8K was good for 10th overall in the field of 242 runners.
- The Rebels have a first-place and third-place finish on the season, while sending only a portion of the team to the meets.

Women's Cross Country
- The Ole Miss women's cross country team placed sixth in a field of 17 teams at the Commodore Classic.
- For the second time in as many events, Mary Alex England finished with the best run for Ole Miss. Her time of 17.23.33 in the 5K placed eighth overall of 260 runners.

Thompson Lifts Rebels to Historic Start

With a chance to make history, Ole Miss dropped a first set for the first time this season.

The Rebels answered the bell winning the next three sets to defeat Jacksonville State 3-1 and improve to 10-0 on the season, the best start in school history.

"We were all looking at each other wondering who would step up and talk," freshman Lexi Thompson said. "And finally Cara Fisher just said, 'We need to make history. This is it. This is all we have. Go for it. Don't worry about what happened. We're playing best 2-out-of-3.'"

Thompson led the way for Ole Miss, finishing with a career-high 18 kills and 17 digs, her third double-double of the season. She had seven kills in the second set and six kills in the third set to help give the Rebels a 2-1 lead in the match.

"She had a tremendous night," head coach Steven McRoberts said. "She had a really good weekend for us here at home. Her play really helped us build some momentum throughout the night. She had a double-double. She was clearly a go-to hitter for us in crunch situations, and as a freshman, she stepped up and did a good job."

In the fourth set, the Rebels got another lift from sophomore Melanie Crow, who had seven kills of her 16 kills in the frame, including the match-winner.

"I expected a change, but I didn't expect this big of a change," Thompson said. "I knew that we would do better, and I was excited to see what we would do with a new coach, and we're going well beyond any expectations."

"We're not done yet," McRoberts said. "I hope our focus isn't on a streak. I hope it's on our next match and our focus is on getting better every day. We have talked all along that when you stay in the system, you work hard and everyone buys in, things like this just happen."

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."

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Sept. 1-7)

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Sept. 1-7, 2014

Football
- Ole Miss moved up to No. 14 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches poll after its dominating 41-3 victory at Vanderbilt on Saturday.
- It was the Rebels' largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent since beating Mississippi State 45-0 in 2008.
- Ole Miss ranks fifth in the nation in scoring defense (8.0 ppg) and second nationally with five interceptions.
- Ole Miss outgained Vandy 331-76 in total offense at halftime and finished 547-167. The Rebels also piled up 34 first downs -- the most in a game under Freeze.
- Vanderbilt didn't get past midfield against the Rebels until the final couple minutes of the third quarter, and the Commodores had to settle for a field goal after recovering DeVante Kincade's fumble at the Ole Miss 5 in the fourth quarter.

Volleyball
- The Rebels captured the Memphis Invitational this past weekend, defeating Memphis (3-2), Arkansas State (3-1) and UT-Martin (3-1) to win their second consecutive tournament title to open the year.
- Junior Nakeyta Clair, sophomore Aubrey Edie and junior Ty Laporte were named to the All-Tournament team, while Clair earned Most Valuable Player honors for the second week in a row.
- Clair finished the tournament with 55 kills, nine blocks and hit .463. She posted double-digit kills in all three matches, including a career-high 20 in the win over UT-Martin. Laporte finished with 13 blocks (1.00 bps) and equaled her career-best (eight) in the win against Memphis. Edie tallied 149 assists (11.40 aps).
- The Rebels are 7-0 to start the year for the first time since the 2007 season. They are also the only SEC team still undefeated on the season.
- For the weekend, the Rebels averaged 14.00 kills per set and 1.85 blocks per set. In the tournament finale, the Rebels hit .312 to defeat UT-Martin 3-1.
- Senior Cara Fisher was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week last week for her performance at the Buffalo Classic.

Soccer
- Olivia Harrison tallied her first career hat trick, including the golden goal, to give Ole Miss a 3-2 double overtime win over Minnesota on Friday.
- Harrison scored two goals in three minutes Friday night against the Gophers to tie the match for the Rebels.
- Harrison and sophomore Addie Forbus had two of the three hat tricks recorded by an SEC team this weekend following Harrison's performance on Friday night.
- Jessica Hiskey tallied her third goal of the season in a 1-1 draw with Memphis on Sunday night as the Rebels went undefeated on the weekend.
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This is the second installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss sports. Let's get into it:

1. What a weekend. The football, volleyball and soccer teams went a combined 5-0-1 on the weekend, headlined by the 15th-ranked football team's 41-3 win over Vanderbilt at Nashville's LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans.

2. Let's start there. Head coach Hugh Freeze may have downplayed the play of his team in his postgame press conference, but Saturday's win over Vanderbilt may have been the Rebels' most complete performance in the Hugh Freeze era.

3. Since the first half against Boise State, Bo Wallace has completed 35-of-44 passes for 559 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Between the Boise State second half and Vanderbilt first half, he threw for 488 yards, which would have broken Archie Manning's single-game school record.

"He didn't make any bad decisions, or anything that was even close," said co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner of Wallace's performance against Vanderbilt.

4. A lot of it is the small sample size, but here are some more fun stats: Bo Wallace is seventh nationally averaging 10.7 yards per attempt and has accounted for a nation-best 15 passing plays of 20 yards of more. That's a big credit to Wallace getting the ball in the hands of his talented group of receivers.

"We had a good game plan, and guys were running wide open the whole night," said Wallace after the Vanderbilt game. "Guys made some plays after the catch, and we put up some yards."

5. Another note: The 41-3 win over Vanderbilt was the Rebels' largest margin of victory in an SEC game since defeating Mississippi State 45-0 in 2008.

6. On a very related note, the margin of victory (38) was also former football player Chucky Mullins' jersey number, while the total number of points (44) was also former Vanderbilt football player Brad Gaines' jersey number. The SEC Storied documentary "It's Time," centered on the the inspirational friendship between Mullins and Gaines, debuted on Thursday on the SEC Network.

7. Robert Nkemdiche called the defense's performance in the season opener against Boise State the new normal. The defense showed up again, as they allowed only a fourth-quarter field goal and 167 yards of total offense against Vanderbilt. Through two games, the Rebels have allowed just 4.19 yards per play and just eight plays of 20 yards of more.

"We stopped the run primarily and we got some pressure on the quarterback and we didn't give up explosive plays and I think that's key for us this year," head coach Hugh Freeze said after the win over Vanderbilt. "We want to make people drive to earn points and I think we did that well."

8. Speaking of Nkemdiche, the former consensus No. 1 overall recruit recorded his first sack of the season, the third of his career, against Vanderbilt. It likely won't be his last.

9. It may get lost in the team's overall performance, but Cliff Coleman may have turned in the play of the game, making his first interception and returning it 39 yards for his first career touchdown to keep the momentum in the Rebels' favor and stretch their lead to 27-0 early in the third quarter.

10. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack earlier said this freshman class was a hit across the board. Through two games, Kendarius Webster has been the one who has stood out. He had a well-timed pass breakup late in the game against Boise State and had two massive tackles to keep the shutout intact against Vanderbilt.

11. The reigning national punter of the week, Will Gleeson did not see the field, as Ole Miss did not punt in a game for the first time since 2002. Andrew Fletcher connected on each of his first two career field-goal attempts, one from 31 yards and another 25 yards, while Gary Wunderlich made his collegiate debut kicking off four times with three touchbacks and one kick out of bounds.

12. College GameDay producer Lee Fitting has said the Ole Miss looks like a strong a candidate for a visit from College GameDay on Oct. 4 if Ole Miss and Alabama are undefeated. It would be their first trip to the Grove. Home games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Memphis stand in the way for Ole Miss, while home games against Southern Miss and Florida stand in the way for Alabama.

13. With that said, don't sleep on Memphis. Under second-year head coach Justin Fuente, Memphis put a scare into No. 11 UCLA before falling short 42-35. The Tigers rolled up 469 yards of total offense, led by second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch who threw for 305 yards and accounted for two touchdowns.

14. The Ole Miss volleyball team is the last undefeated team in the SEC. With a 3-0 weekend to win the Memphis Invitational, the Rebels improved to 7-0 on the season for the first time since 2007, when they started a school-best 9-0.

15. In their first match of the weekend at Memphis, the Rebels saved a match point down 14-13 in the fifth and decisive set before scoring the next two points to clinch the match. Those are the kinds of wins where you can see the mentality change that first-year head coach Steven McRoberts has talked about since arriving in Oxford.

16. The Ole Miss soccer team had their own share of dramatics this weekend. Down 2-0, Olivia Harrison netted a pair of goals within four minutes of each other in the final 12 minutes of regulation to force extra time against Minnesota. She capped off her hat trick with the golden goal in the second overtime period.

17. Even more impressive, it was the second straight game where an Ole Miss player scored a hat trick, with Addie Forbus scoring three goals in their previous match against Louisiana-Lafayette.

18. The NFL is back, and so is the large contingent of former Rebels among its ranks. Mike Wallace caught a game-tying touchdown, as the Miami Dolphins scored 23 unanswered to rally to defeat the New England Patriots. On the defensive side of the ball, Greg Hardy, who was third in the NFL in sacks last year, recorded his first sack of the season, while Patrick Willis intercepted a pass and led his team in tackles.

19. Looking ahead, there's another big weekend on campus upcoming with volleyball's first three home matches of the season as part of the Magnolia Invitational on Thursday and Friday, football's home opener against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, and a home soccer match against Middle Tennessee State on Sunday.

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Aug. 25-31)

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Aug. 25-31, 2014

Football
- No. 18 Ole Miss opened the 2014 season with a 35-13 win over Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
- The Rebels led 7-6 entering the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Bo Wallace and the offense exploded for 28 fourth-quarter points to cruise to victory.
- Wallace passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns, and receivers Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core both set career highs and went over 100 receiving yards.
- The Rebel defense picked off the Broncos four times, including Cody Prewitt's 10th career interception that ranks him top 10 in school history.
- Logging his first start, junior wide receiver Cody Core finished with four catches for a career-high 110 yards and his first two career touchdowns.

Volleyball
- Ole Miss kicked off the Steven McRoberts era this past weekend by winning the Buffalo Classic. The Rebels defeated Canisius, Siena, Lehigh and Buffalo all by 3-0 scores to capture their first tournament title away from home since 2007.
- The Rebels started the year 4-0 for the first time since 2007 and swept their first four matches for the first time since 1984.
- Melanie Crow, Aubrey Edie and Nakyeta Clair were named to the All-Tournament Team, while Clair earned Most Valuable Player honors.  
- The Rebels averaged 15.0 kills per set, led by Crow, who posted 46 kills for an average of 3.83 kills per set.  Crow came up with several big kills in Sunday's win over Buffalo to stave off the Bulls and also added 13 blocks, 7 service aces and hit .320 for the weekend.
- Clair finished the tournament with 42 kills and 13 blocks and hit .381, while Edie tallied 149 assists (12.42 per set).

Cross Country
Men's Team
- The Ole Miss men's cross country team opened the 2014 season on a high note, tying for first at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic. Three runners finished in the top 10 for the Rebels.
- In his first event as a Rebel, freshman Mark Robertson recorded the best time for Ole Miss in the four-mile run. His time of 20:07.74 was good for second overall in the event.
- The first-place finish was against a field consisting of four regionally ranked teams.
Women's Team
- The Rebel women's cross country team finished third in the Twilight Classic, ahead of two other regionally ranked teams.
- Sophomore Mary Alex England's fifth-place finish in the 5K led the way for the Rebels.
- Of the 10 Rebels who competed in the opening event, five were freshmen and four were sophomores.

Soccer
- Sophomore Addie Forbus turned in her first hat trick and added two assists to help the Rebels defeat Louisiana-Lafayette 5-1 on Sunday.
- Junior Jessica Hiskey added a pair of goals against Louisiana-Lafayette as the Rebels improved to 2-1-1 on the season.
- The Rebels split on the weekend, dropping a road contest at Louisville 1-0 on Friday before picking up the win over the Ragin' Cajuns to close out play in week two of competition.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Aug. 31

Observations Logo.pngThis is a new concept we've created for the Ole Miss Sports Blog that we're calling Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss sports. Some of these will be stat nuggets, some of these will be links to great work from other people, and some will simply be casual observations about a game/subject/whatever. Sometimes I'll be posting these weekly features, sometimes it will be Austin Miller, and sometimes we'll team up for it. We'll keep it professional, of course, but we're also going to have some fun with this because it is a blog after all. Let's get started:

1.) Great season-opening win by the Ole Miss football team. Was it always pretty? No. Does it matter? Not really. At the end of the day, the Rebels are 1-0, which is a fact half the teams in the country cannot say.

2.) He plays a position that doesn't always (OK, ever) get a whole lot of attention, but can we please give a shout out to Will Gleeson? The Punter from Down Under was a beast Thursday night against Boise State. Not only did he punt for distance, he also punted with precision, landing three of his four punts inside the Broncos' 20-yard line, including a 70-yarder that stopped at the 7.

3.) Here's a nice story on Gleeson from Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger from back on Aug. 10. Check it out.

4.) We had read and heard about the Ole Miss defense throughout fall camp, but when they're going against the Ole Miss offense there (obviously) aren't any big hits so as to prevent injury. Well, my guess is those defensive players had a little energy built up. There were some absolutely massive hits Thursday from a number of folks. Check out this Vine showing three of the bigger hits: https://vine.co/v/MlV2vObKAxE.

5.) In camp, defensive line coach Chris Kiffin said he expected really big things from sophomore defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. The former consensus No. 1 overall recruit didn't disappoint. While his stats weren't necessarily eye-opening, if you watched the game you saw how much attention he drew from the Broncos, which thus freed up his teammates for three sacks and 10 tackles for loss. I really liked this quote from Nkemdiche after the game: "The Rebel defense really made a statement and are really getting an identity. You better get used to it. It's the new normal for us."

6.) Senquez Golson had a big-time game for the Rebels against Boise State. The senior from Pascagoula, Mississippi, made a game-high tying eight solo tackles, including one tackle for a loss and he also had a key interception in the end zone.

7.) Speaking of that interception in the end zone, the key to the game may have been the Rebels' defense bending but never breaking in the first half. Boise State had two drives stall inside the Ole Miss 5-yard line. In total, the Broncos ran seven plays inside the Ole Miss 5 and came away with just three points. If Boise State scores two touchdowns there the whole game could have been different.

8.) Stop me if you've heard this before: Cody Prewitt picked off a pass. The first team All-American picked up right where he left off a year ago when he led the Southeastern Conference with six interceptions.

9.) While there wound up being a lot of good that came from Thursday's game, there were also a couple head scratchers. Fourteen penalties is a whale of a number, first game or not, and that's surely something Coach Freeze and the rest of the Rebel coaching staff will be focusing on prior to their next game at Vanderbilt. Of the 14 penalties, half came as a result of false start calls ... in the first half.

10.) Ole Miss will also look to kick start its running game its next time out. Ole Miss finished the day with 34 rushes for just 71 yards and a touchdown. I, for one, believe the Ole Miss running back corps is a position of strength and the remainder of the year will be a different story.

11.) Here's a fun fact: With Thursday's win, Ole Miss Football is now 8-0 all-time in the month of August.

12.) Did you see Josh McCoy's photo gallery of the football game? Do yourself a favor and click here to check it out: http://www.olemisssports.com/view.gal?id=164946. He's the best photographer in the biz, folks. You can also follow him on Twitter at @OleMissPix.

13.) What a great weekend for the Ole Miss volleyball team as it kicked off the Steven McRoberts era in grand fashion by going 4-0 in Buffalo, New York, at the Buffalo Classic.

14.) The Rebels didn't drop a set throughout the entirety of the tournament. The Rebels' 4-0 start is their best start since 2007, and it's their first time opening a season without dropping a set in their first four matches since 1984. Wow. The volleyball team will play in three matches next week (Sept. 5-6) in nearby Memphis, Tennessee, before hosting two tournaments in back-to-back weekends Sept. 11-12 and Sept. 18-20.

15.) The Ole Miss soccer team also continued its strong start to the year with a 1-1 weekend that saw it bounce back from a 1-0 loss at Louisville on Friday with a 5-1 win over Louisiana-Lafayette at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium on Sunday. Love seeing a team respond from its first loss with five goals and a victory.

16.) The soccer team is now 2-1-1 after facing four tough opponents to open the season. Come on out to support your Rebels this upcoming week for two home games against Minnesota and Memphis on Sept. 5 and Sept. 7, respectively. It's a fun environment and the team really feeds off a strong crowd.

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."

Ole Miss and the SEC Network Launch

The SEC Network will debut at 5 p.m. CT Thursday with its flagship news and information show, SEC Now, live from all 14 SEC campuses.

The debut of SEC Now on Thursday will be a three-hour special hosted by Dari Nowkhah and Maria Taylor, and they will be joined by Brent Musburger, Paul Finebaum, Greg McElroy and Booger McFarland. There will be live whip-around reporting from each of the school's 14 campuses, with reporter Kaylee Hartung stationed at Ole Miss.

The three-hour special will be followed by the premiere of "SEC Storied: The Stars of Aligned" at 8 p.m. CT and will feature Shepard Smith representing Ole Miss.

The first two weeks of the network will also feature customized programming to feature 14 schools in 14 days. The "Best of Ole Miss" block of programming will air on Monday, Aug. 18 starting at 11 p.m. CT and will include "SEC Storied: Book of Manning," the 2008 game vs. Florida, the 2002 game vs. Florida, the 2003 game vs. Auburn and the 2013 game vs. LSU. The first two weeks will also include the soccer team's season opener vs. Georgia on Friday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. CT. 

During the fall season, Ole Miss has 10 games scheduled to be featured live on the SEC Network, with the possibility of that number increasing with additional football games being picked up by the channel during the season. Ole Miss also has 30 total soccer and volleyball matches that will be offered exclusively as SEC Network+ events on WatchESPN and SECNetwork.com.

More from Ole Miss Sports:

Ole Miss to be Featured Heavily on SEC Network

Ole Miss-SEC Network Info

More from ESPN:

SEC Network Debuts with School-Specific Programming for First Two Weeks on Air

SEC Network and SEC Network + Now Available on WatchESPN

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The SEC Network Channel Finder

Ole Miss All-Access Preview

"Buy-in" is a common term thrown around by coaches. How will first-year Ole Miss head volleyball coach Steven McRoberts measure buy-in, as the team continues its preseason work for the upcoming season? Attitude and effort.

"If we bring those two things, we're going to be successful," McRoberts said. "I really do. And I even mean that from a wins standpoint."

A program with three NCAA Tournament appearances in its history, Ole Miss is coming off a 14-17 season, but McRoberts is confident in the process to build a successful program in the Southeastern Conference.

"My expectation for us is to stay with the process and understand that to get to the middle and then to the top of the conference, we have to all be on the same page," McRoberts said. "We have to pay attention to details. We have to do the right things on the court and off the court. A lot of this is going to be a culture change that we need.

"From a winning and losing standpoint, I don't know with what we're doing and who we have how that equates with who we're playing against because I haven't been through the SEC yet."

Through the first part of preseason camp, the focus has been ball control and limiting errors by extending rallies and being good with the ball. The team has battled the fatigue of two-a-days, but McRoberts is hopeful the team will improve their conditioning and fewer mental errors will follow.

"Sometimes you come back and feel like you picked up right where you left off in the spring, and sometimes there's some frustration with having to re-teach some things that we have already taught," McRoberts said. "Some of the re-teaching we did early has been picked up on really fast, and then there are other things that we consistently have to remind the team about. We're on target for where we want to be, but I also expect us in the next two or three days to be picking up our play."

Ole Miss opens the 2014 season on Friday, Aug. 29 against Canisius, the first of four games in the Buffalo Classic hosted by the University at Buffalo.

Rebels Send Goss, Morgan Out With Win

Ole Miss sent seniors Kellie Goss and Kara Morgan out with a win as the Rebels topped LSU 3-2 on Senior Night.

"It was a great win," head coach Joe Getzin said. "We tweaked the lineup, and one of our seniors Kellie Goss, who has played an important role as a utility player all her career, came in off the bench and had one of the best nights of her career. Both of our seniors had a great last match. They held their emotions in check knowing it was their last match, and both of them did a great job."

"This past practice, our coach told us to say our favorite memory thus far in our career here, and we both said beating LSU in five (sets) our sophomore year," Goss said. "We replicated it tonight, and it was the best feeling ever. 

Goss finished with a season-high 10 kills, while Morgan nearly had a double-double with seven kills and 12 digs. The Rebels also got a big lift from freshman Aubrey Edie who set a program record with 61 assists. Freshman Melanie Crow and sophomore Ty Laporte also had season-high kills with 18 and 16, respectively. Sophomore Nakeyta Clair joined Crow with a team-high 18 kills.

"We have been in that situation where we have been up 2-0 on people and we haven't taken care of business," Getzin said. "We were intense throughout and kept putting pressure on them."

Morgan finishes her four-year career as the program's fourth all-time leader with 927 kills, having also led the team with 311 kills and 30 service aces as a junior. 

"It's not about the numbers; I take away the friendships that I have made," Morgan said. "Kellie and I have been together for four years. It's been a great experience."

For Goss, her 10 kills Wednesday was the second-most of her career, having finished with 12 kills in that same five-set win over LSU her sophomore year. 

"I can't say enough about Kellie Goss," Getzin said. "A lot of times role players don't get the accolades they deserve, but you can't run a team without someone like her giving up what she truly wants to do for the betterment of the team from time to time and playing an understudy when it was needed. Without that kind of buy-in from someone like Kellie, a team doesn't function, so I couldn't be prouder of her."

"That's probably the best send-off I could possibly imagine," Goss said. "It was the greatest feeling ever, and I couldn't have done it without my teammates and coaches supporting me the whole time."

Goss and Morgan came in together as freshmen in the 2010 season, during which the Rebels earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Three years later, they finish their respective careers on a high note.

"Kellie and I have one of the strongest relationships on the team," Morgan said. "We don't have to constantly be around each other for us to have that relationship. We have each other's backs no matter what."

"We don't even have to speak sometimes to know what each other are thinking," Goss said. "We have a close relationship and it will continue on forever."

Cunningham Engineers Dreams

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Courtney Cunningham is a builder. While playing volleyball for Ole Miss from 2009-11, Cunningham helped build the Rebels into an NCAA Tournament team while also earning her civil engineering degree. From that degree, Cunningham is helping build dreams, including her own.


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Cunningham spent two weeks this past August in Togo with Engineers Without Borders where she helped with the first phase of a 5- to 10-year project to build a school for one of the communities in the West African nation.

While the group faced many obstacles, they were able to pour two slabs for each classroom, put up all the columns to the correct height and set up an L-shape concrete beam for one of the classrooms.

"We came into a lot of obstacles that prevented us from getting the classrooms done in time," Cunningham said. "That's what happens whenever you go to a foreign country and you don't speak the language. There are always some difficulties you come across."

Cunningham described the typical day, in which they worked from sun up to sun down, in two words: very hot.

"We are so blessed here, and to go over there and have all those challenges put in front of us, and as engineers, we had to figure it out," she said. "They gave us the wrong shipment of rocks for our concrete mix and gravel, so we had to sort rocks. I took that challenge upon myself. It was very tedious, but it needed to be done. And it was a great way to get the kids involved.

"We would measure out an inch on the wheelbarrow. We put the rocks in there, and if it did not fit we would throw it out, and if it did fit we kept it in the wheelbarrow. You can only imagine how challenging this was because none of the kids spoke English, they all spoke French."

Cunningham left Togo on Aug. 21, spent a day in Oxford and then drove to Houston, where she now works as an engineer in training (EIT) for Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam. There, she helps design plans for clients while also learning from the professional engineers (PE) above her.

"Transportation engineering was not really what I worked on when I was in Togo, but the lessons I learned from Togo are helping me here," Cunningham said. "I learned how to deal with difficulties. Everything is not going to go right in engineering; you just have to find a way to make it work. It kind of goes back to volleyball and the classroom as well. You always encounter issues, and something not going right; it's how you and your mindset can make the problem better or fix it."

It's a five-year process from EIT to PE, during which Cunningham has to keep a record of all the projects she works on and then take an exam. That professional engineering license, Cunningham said, is her end goal, what she's working for and her everything right now, but she also sees something beyond the license.

"The dream career is to travel while doing engineering and get to a point where I can call myself a project manager," Cunningham said. "That's the end goal for me. That's what my eye is on right now."

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."

Aubrey Edie Knows Hard Work Will Pay Off

The grind of preseason camp can be taxing for anyone. For Ole Miss volleyball freshman setter Aubrey Edie, preseason camp has been a lot of hard work, but she says it's work that she knows will pay off. Edie comes to Oxford from Fayetteville, Ark., where she was a three-time All-State selection and helped guide Fayetteville High School to a state championship her senior year.


Volleyball Holds Red-Blue Scrimmage


The Ole Miss volleyball team held its Red-Blue Scrimmage Saturday as part of the Meet The Rebels activities. The team scrimmaged four sets at the Gillom Sports Center, in preparation for its 2013 season. Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin mentioned sophomore defensive specialist Evan St. Laurent and freshman outside hitter Margaret Eggert as players who stood out from the scrimmage. St. Laurent had 23 digs, second-most in the scrimmage, and Eggert had 12 kills, also second-most in the scrimmage, and 10 digs. 

Sophomore middle blocker Ty Laporte, an SEC all-freshman selection last season, led all players with 14 kills. Sophomore middle blocker Nakeya Clair, also an SEC all-star freshman selection last season, had 10 kills and nine blocks (three solo). A couple of other standouts included sophomore setter Skylar Johnson (match-high 31 assists, 13 digs), junior defensive specialist Rachael McLamore (match-high 27 digs), senior outside hitter Kara Morgan (14 digs, 11 kills) and freshman defensive specialist Kristen Brashear, who led all players with four service aces. 

Ole Miss opens the 2013 season on Friday, August 30 in Washington, D.C., with matches against UMBC, Maryland and George Washington. The Rebels return home the following weekend for the Magnolia Invitational, including the home opener on Friday, Sept. 6 at 11 a.m. against Kennesaw State.

Kara Morgan Talks Preseason

Ole Miss volleyball senior outside hitter Kara Morgan talked after practice Wednesday evening about how preseason practice has gone thus far, how the freshmen are looking and about entering her senior year, among other things. Take a look:
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