OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss volleyball opened SEC play against Alabama, sweeping the Tide in front of a packed Gillom Athletics Performance Center on Friday night.
The Rebels (7-5, 1-0 SEC) picked up their first league victory of the season, handing Alabama (10-2, 0-1 SEC) just its second loss of the season.
Playing without All-SEC middle blocker Sasha Ratliff, Ole Miss turned to its underclassmen.
Vivian Miller, Shayla Meyer and Tessa Jones answered the call. Miller paced the offense with 13 kills on 26 attacks, and Meyer contributed all around with eight kills, six digs and four blocks. Jones, who split the workload with Payton Brgoch in the middle, helped the Rebels hold the conference's top attacking team to a mere .084 hitting percentage.
Julia Dyess and Miller helped Ole Miss get off to a hot start. The Rebels quickly built up a 7-3 lead and looked to extend it as a solo block and kill from Miller forced an early timeout. Alabama regrouped well after its huddle, stringing together two small runs to tie the match at 16 and take its only lead of the set.
The Rebels called for a timeout of their own and locked in, going on a 7-1 run to retake the lead at 23-18, and took advantage of a pair of errors to win the opening set.
Ole Miss, backed by 900-plus fans who packed Gillom, carried the energy into set two. Jones got the Rebels going with a pair of blocks to make it 11-6 early, and the defense continued to extend the lead to seven on a massive block from Brgoch and Anna Bair.
Miller closed out the second set with two kills to push her total into double-digits as Ole Miss took a two-set lead. Looking to cap off the sweep, the Rebels cruised in the third set.
Ole Miss wasted no time, doubling up Alabama at 14-7 and using a 6-0 run, sparked by a kill from Brgoch, to be the first team to 20. Leading by 11, there was nothing the Tide could do to slow down the Rebels, and Dyess slammed down the match point to win it for Ole Miss.
The Rebels continue the opening weekend of SEC play on the road, taking on No. 24 Auburn on Sunday, September 24, at 2 p.m. CT.