The No. 8 Missouri volleyball team ended its fall season on a good note by defeating Ole Miss 3-1 (25-19, 25-19, 17-25, 25-18) on Saturday afternoon.
For the second consecutive day, the Tigers (6-2) had only nine available players, the minimum amount for the Southeastern Conference. And after yesterday’s five-set match against the Rebels (0-6), fatigue was a big concern.
Senior Kylie Deberg led the Tigers to a dominant first-set victory with seven kills on a hit percentage of .636, showing that fatigue wasn’t going to be a problem.
“I definitely thought we cleaned up some things today and that led to some effective play on the court,” Missouri coach Joshua Taylor said.
The Tigers did struggle with serves, though. The Tigers had eight errors in the first two sets. Despite the problems, a late run fueled by good blocking at the net allowed the Tigers to escape the second set with a victory.
The other challenge that Taylor had to face with the depleted roster was plugging players into different positions. Specifically, trying to get the middle block figured out.
The Rebels were able to expose the inexperience of the newly assembled middle block in the third set. Missouri had no answer for Rebels freshman GG Carvacho, who exploded for eight kills in the set, including the set-winning point.
With the momentum finally on the Rebels’ side, it was sophomore Kenna Sauer, who usually plays outside hitter for the Tigers, who reestablished the middle block for Missouri to ultimately put the match away.
Sauer along with sophomore Claudia Dillon had key blocks that cooled down Carvacho and the Ole Miss offense. The winless Rebels didn’t have an answer.
Deberg led the Tigers in kills with 16 and added three blocks. Sophomore Anna Dixon followed with 11 kills. In addition to Sauer’s three blocks, she tallied seven kills on a hit percentage of .700. Andrea Fuentes also fueled the attack with 34 assists.
“We had six different players with four-plus kills, so that made it really hard on Ole Miss’ defense to lock-in on specific people,” Taylor said.
Carvacho led both sides in kills with 20, while St. Louis product Anna Bair had 15 kills for the Rebels.
As the Tigers head home to their families for Thanksgiving, their stay will be longer than most years because of the players being able to take their final exams at home.
With the dates and information for the spring portion of the season still unannounced, the Tigers know they have established a solid foundation this fall for whenever the season picks up again.
“I’m really pleased with how our group came together after that Kentucky series and ended the fall season on a high note,” Taylor said. “We got some great momentum heading into the spring season, and we can’t wait to get back on the court already.”
The Tigers are hoping to get junior Jaden Newsome back for the spring after she broke her hand in practice back in early November, causing her to miss the last four games.