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Scholtz Makes One More Memory

The reigning SEC Player of the Year, Nik Scholtz decided to return for his senior season, wanting to give Ole Miss and Oxford one more season.

Playing in perhaps his last home match at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center Saturday, Scholtz gave the home crowd another match to remember, a fitting send-off, if it was indeed his last home match.

Scholtz partnered with freshman Zvonimir Babic for a 6-4 win at No. 1 doubles, and in singles play, he won 6-4, 6-3 at No. 1 singles to give the Rebels a 3-0 lead on the way to a 4-0 win over Kentucky. For Scholtz, it was his 21st win in his last 22 home matches and his 80th career victory.

"Last year when I walked out of here, it was emotional, but I knew in the back of mind there was a possibility that I could come back if I wanted to, but this time there is no coming back (after the last match)," Scholtz said. "That's life. It goes on. It's time for the younger guys to step up. I feel like I gave everything I had to the school like they did for me. I'm satisfied."

Fittingly, with all eyes and camera phones on him, he served to close out his singles match, delivering the winning point after his opponent saved three previous match points. 

"I told myself that if that situation came to not think anything too erratic or think too far into the future, and it's so easy that, and then when that time comes and you hear that slow clap, it's in your mind," Scholtz said. "You have to handle it. He played three good points to get it to deuce, and then I was able to come with a good serve. It was good to finish with a serve. It's the right way to end it."

"They were soaking in the atmosphere, and they deserved every bit of it," said head coach Toby Hansson of Scholtz and fellow senior William Kallberg. "It's an amazing feeling for those guys, and also for me to be part of it. It's been a privilege to work with these guys for four years."

After the winning point, he threw up his signature Landshark, fist-pumped and then hugged his current head coach, Hansson, and his former head coach, Billy Chadwick. He also saluted the crowd, hitting the ball into the stands, before exiting Billy Chadwick Center Court for perhaps the last time.

"If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been here in the first place," said Scholtz of Chadwick. "That's where it all started, and I finished on his court. That's where I played my first and last match. A lot of things came together to make it a really special moment."

Ole Miss plays their last two regular season matches on the road at South Carolina and Georgia, before traveling to College Station for the SEC Tournament. The Rebels, ranked No. 14 in the nation and now 15-6 overall, still have a chance to host the NCAA first and second rounds.

"It's good to know in the back of my mind that there's a slight possibility to play here again, and if that's not motivation, I don't know what is," Scholtz said. "I am going to do my best to make sure we get a chance to be back here for two more matches and I know the rest of the team will as well."

With the Rebels' 82-74 win at Alabama on Tuesday night, Ole Miss has posted 20 wins for the seventh time in nine seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just seven 20-win campaigns in the 96 seasons before Kennedy's arrival.

Also, with the win over Alabama, Ole Miss positioned itself to earn the No. 3 seed in the Southeastern Conference tournament with a win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. But the Rebels could also finish fourth, fifth or sixth with a loss, depending on other outcomes in the league.

The No. 3 seed would not only mean a double-bye into the quarterfinals, but it would also place Ole Miss on the opposite side of the bracket from top seed and undefeated Kentucky.

"It was a huge game," said senior guard LaDarius White after the win over Alabama. "It was important and we needed this game."

As far as the NCAA Tournament, the win over Alabama kept Ole Miss around the No. 9 and No. 10 seed lines, depending on the bracket projection, and according to ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan, the win also locked up an NCAA Tournament bid.

"Either way, both teams are straddling the No. 8/9 seed lines at this late date," said Brennan of Georgia and Ole Miss in his latest Bubble Watch. "For either to miss the tournament, they'd have to drop two straight this weekend and next, and somehow have the dozen-or-so teams between them and the cut line pass them in the next nine days. Not going to happen."

That being said, the Rebels, now No. 44 in the latest NCAA RPI, can eliminate any doubt about their NCAA Tournament hopes and perhaps play their way up a seed line or two, between now and Selection Sunday, starting with a win over Vanderbilt on Saturday. 

There's not much reward playing the Commodores, ranked No. 102 in the RPI, but they have won four in a row and seven of their last nine games, dating back to the start of February.

"We get one more win, we have a secure seed in the NCAA tournament," sophomore forward Sebastian Saiz said. "That was the goal this season -- to get to the NCAA tournament and do well in it." 

Senior Send-Off for Five Rebels

Ole Miss will also honor its five seniors, three fourth-year seniors in Aaron Jones, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White and two graduate seniors in M.J. Rhett and Terence Smith.

Jones, Summers and White have been a part of three of Kennedy's six 20-win seasons, including Summers who is the SEC active leader in points (1,587), assists (507), minutes (3,762) and wins (83). 

"It's Senior Night, so it's got to be the most important game for those guys who are leaving Ole Miss," Saiz said. "I expect them to come out with a lot of energy and show everybody they have been thankful for their time at Ole Miss."

Summers and White showed signs of a return to form in the win over Alabama, while Jones provided a spark with 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting, to go along with five rebounds, in 21 minutes off the bench.

Summers showed the decision-making that made him an All-SEC type player, dishing out seven assists compared to zero turnovers 32 minutes of action, while White exploded for 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. For White, it was his first double-digit scoring game since scoring 16 points in a win over Florida on Feb. 12.

"Snoop has struggled in the last two or three weeks," said Kennedy of White. "He has not shot the ball well. For him to go seven-of-nine, four-for-five from three, huge, huge effort for him. My hope is that it will give him the confidence that he needs to finish this thing strong."

VIDEO: Ole Miss-Auburn Highlights

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."

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