OXFORD, Miss. - Battling back to force a fifth set, Ole Miss volleyball came from behind to top South Carolina 3-2 in a five-set thriller Friday night in Gillom to remain undefeated at home. The Rebels' 5-0 record at home marks their best start in Oxford since the 2014 season.
Julia Dyess and Sasha Ratliff willed the Rebels (8-6, 2-1 SEC) to victory, finishing with 19 kills each. The 19 kills on a .308 hitting clip also marked a career-high for the Brandon, Mississippi, native Dyess. Two other Rebels also tallied double-digit kills to aid the offense. Nia Washington recorded 13, and Bair registered 11, including her 1,300th career kill.
Setter Aly Borellis was pivotal in keeping the offense on track to hit at a .284 mark. The sophomore dished out 62 assists, a career-high and the second most by a Rebel in a single match in the Rally Scoring Era. On the defensive side, Ole Miss finished with nine blocks, and libero Cammy Niesen held down the backcourt with 26 digs.
The Gamecocks came out swinging in the opening set as they searched for their first conference victory. Trailing at the media timeout, Dyess sparked a 3-0 run to tie the match at 18, but South Carolina answered with a 6-1 run of its own to put the first set out of reach and win 25-21.
Looking to even the match, Ole Miss got off to a hot start to the second. Bailee Middleton, who made her start of the season, dropped in a service ace to make it 6-2 early on. The Gamecocks got within two, but the Rebels never trailed in the set as Dyess led the way with six kills to take it 25-22.
Both teams fought for the edge in the third set that featured 10 ties. Ole Miss looked to be in control until South Carolina grabbed a 21-20 lead late. The Rebels turned to Ratliff, who quickly sided out to tie the match back up, but four unanswered points gave the Gamecocks a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Battling to force a fifth set, Ole Miss went back and forth with South Carolina. A quick kill from Ratliff gave her team a small 15-14 lead at the media timeout and helped light a fire. Dyess and Washington both came alive on the outside, tallying five kills each in the set to keep Ole Miss alive and even the match at two sets apiece.
The Rebels never backed down in the fifth set. South Carolina opened up a 4-1 lead, but Ole Miss and Ratliff responded. The Gamecocks, again, began to distance themselves up 8-6 as both teams switched sides, but the Rebels still wouldn't go away, knotting things up at 12 with another kill from Ratliff. Head coach Bre Henry was pivotal in shifting the momentum back in Ole Miss' favor, winning a pair of challenges in the set, including one to erase a South Carolina match point.
Tied at 13 in the fifth set, Ratliff slammed down the biggest kill of the night to bring all of Gillom to its feet, and a South Carolina error handed the Rebels a 15-13 victory to take the match 3-2.
Ole Miss continues its three-match homestand on Sunday, hosting No. 12 Tennessee at 1:30 p.m. CT for Kids Day.