STARKVILLE, Miss. - After dropping a tight first set, Ole Miss volleyball put on a clinic, dominating Mississippi State 3-1 in the Magnolia State Showdown Wednesday night inside the Newell-Grissom Building.
In enemy territory, the Rebels (10-10, 6-4 SEC) came out and stunned their in-state rivals in Mississippi State (11-9, 4-6 SEC) on its home court. The middle blockers, Sasha Ratliff and Payton Brgoch, took over the match, combining for 30 kills and 14 blocks. They were two of four Rebels to finish with double-figure kills, joined by Katie Corelli and Julia Dyess. Dyess also recorded 14 digs, tallying her first career double-double in the victory. Freshman Aly Borellis navigated the offense to a .268 hitting percentage behind 52 assists, one shy of her career high. Defensively, Cammy Niesen, Maggie Miller and Dyess were flying around the court, all registering 10-plus digs.
After a brief feeling-out period, MSU began to gain separation with a 4-0 run, forcing the Rebels to call their first timeout down 9-12. Ratliff came out of the break and tied the match up with a 3-0 scoring run on her own. Ole Miss battled back and forth with the Bulldogs until a kill from Julia Dyess and an MSU service error gave Ole Miss set point. Backs against the wall, Mississippi State used its final timeout to flip the momentum and spark a 3-0 run to take the set, 26-24.
Ole Miss came out with a chip on its shoulder in the second set, using a 5-0 run to make it a 9-5 contest. From there, the Rebels increased their lead to six as Ratliff and Corelli came alive with six and five kills, respectively. Ole Miss cruised to victory in the set, scoring four of the final five points to tie the match at one set apiece.
Not relinquishing the lead, Ole Miss opened the third set on a 5-0 run and never looked back. Borellis spread the ball nicely, utilizing five different attackers, and even dumped a pair of kills on the Bulldogs herself. With a 15-10 lead at the media timeout, the Rebels continued to extend the lead to eight as Dyess and Ratliff put up a wall of a block to reject Mississippi State's leading attacker. Brgoch delivered the final blow a few plays later to cap off a 25-18 set win and inch the Rebels closer to victory.
After not having led since 5-4 in the second set Mississippi State scored the first point of set four, but the lead was short-lived. Ole Miss quickly took control, building up a 7-3 lead thanks to back-to-back kills from Vivian Miller, prompting an MSU timeout. The Bulldogs responded to tie the match at 10 and would keep things close as both teams exchanged scoring bursts. Three unanswered points from Mississippi State late in the set led to Ole Miss calling a timeout to regroup. The Rebels responded with a 3-0 run, and this time, MSU took a timeout to talk things over. Mississippi State tied the match at 22 and then 23, but Ole Miss stepped up when it mattered most, getting a kill from Dyess and winning the rivalry match on a Bulldog attacking error.