OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss narrowly handed Texas A&M its first loss in nine matches, but the Aggies escaped from the Gillom Sports Center with a 3-2 win here Friday night in an exciting match from start to finish.
With the narrow loss, the Rebels falls to 20-8 overall and 6-7 in the SEC, but just one match out of fifth place with five to play. Texas A&M improved to 18-6 overall and 11-2 in the SEC.
Ole Miss trailed 2-1 overall and by four late in the fourth set, before rallying to send it to a fifth. The two teams went toe-to-toe in the deciding set and the Rebels led 12-11 late, before A&M went on a four-point run to close it out 15-12 for the 3-2 win.
When the two teams met in College Station, the Aggies jumped on the Rebels early with their fast-paced offense, but the Ole Miss handled it much better right out of the gate, using an 8-2 run to go up 18-12 in the first set. A&M answered with a 7-2 run to close to within 20-19. At 23-23, sophomore Kate Gibson stepped and put the ball down for one of her 13 kills to give the Rebels set point, 24-23. The Aggies won the final three points though, to take the set 26-24 and a 1-0 lead in the match.
Both teams traded points to start the second set, but Ole Miss closed on a 15-7 run, after being tied 10-10, to win it 25-17 and head into the break 1-1.
Set three went much like the second set, but at 15-15, the Aggies went on a 6-1 run to force Ole Miss to call a timeout down 16-21. A&M went on to win the set 25-19 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Rebels led set four 9-7 but then A&M used a 6-1 run to go up 13-10. Ole Miss battled back to tie it at 15. Once again the Aggies, looking to close it out in four, went up by four, 21-17. However, an 8-2 run by the Rebels finished off a thrilling comeback, 25-23, to send the match to the fifth set.
• Texas A&M came into the match second in the SEC in hitting percentage, and the Rebels held them well below (.195) their season average of .279. • Ole Miss had more total team blocks (15) than Texas A&M (10). Senior Ty Laporte equaled her career-high with eight total blocks. Fellow senior Nakeyta Clair posted six blocks.
• Sophomores Lexi Thompson and Kate Gibson both posted double-doubles. Gibson recorded 13 kills and 17 digs, and Thompson finished with 13 kills and 12 digs. • Nakeyta Clair posted 17 kills on a .323 clip to go with her six blocks. • Junior Aubrey Edie finished with 41 assists, six digs and three blocks.
Quoting Head Coach Steven McRoberts
"If you actually add up all five sets, we only lost by one point. I am really proud of the team and the effort. I thought we played really good volleyball for a lot of the match. We challenged the team all week to compete, and the I think the fans who were here saw a very high-level college match."
The Rebels are back in action Sunday hosting LSU at 1 p.m., in a nationally-televised match on the SEC Network.