The Season: Ole Miss Volleyball – Passing the Test (2017)

[MUSIC]. Each new school year brings its own unique changes. For the Ole’ Miss volleyball team it means a new infusion of freshmen and student athletes adjusting to new roles. It also means one final season in Oxford for record breaking outside hitters Lexi Thomson and Kate Gibson. Bars middle, second attack coming is Gibson and that will do it. Outside Thomson picked up by White but sent into the crowd. With the season’s results being mixed so far and non-conference season coming to a close, the Rebels are hoping to pass one final test to build momentum going into SEC play. [MUSIC]. We are going to look at a modified rotation today and again some of these things it’s just so that we can – if we get into a match we may do it and say, hey for the match, we say “hey this is how we’re going to do it.” We may not do it. But we just don’t want it to be like 30 minutes before the match and say “Hey guys we’re going to try this today.” Alright we are at home this week so we’ve got three days of practice. A lot of the things we are working on, of course, is to get ready for this weekend, but we’ve got two and a half weeks to get ready for SEC play is the way I’m seeing it. So let’s just keep getting better, bring it every day. [MUSIC]. [Laughter]. Yoo! [Laughter]. Three out of four. Championship. Barbara. [MUSIC] Oh! [Laughter]. [Cheering] Alright, good job. [Clapping]. Great effort. Great effort. MUSIC]. [Cheering] Nayo, let’s just keep working every time to hit to one. I know that’s open, but just for practice sake, hit to one every time. Good work today. We got a lot done, position work. We just need to come back ready tomorrow as we start getting more and more into our game prep. Alright, go get you a good lift in. Rebs on three. One, two, three. Rebs. [MUSIC]. Kettle bell halos are first. Okay, eight each way. Halo is just grabbing the actual kettle bell part and all it is is a mobility exercise that will help with our shoulders and you are just going to go around. Bring it around town. Bring it around the town. Bring it around town. Yeah, just like that. And hold it. Alright, when you lift and don’t let it pull you. Alright, you got to squeeze, embrace. Going for a big pass man. Brace, brace yourself. Yeah, good. Shoulders locked in. There, good. Good, keep yoour upper back tight. Yep, nice. Good speed. Good Lex, good. Nice. Hey, hey. Check out the Wiz my Cadillac Spins, Spinners. Good Lexi, good. Big stretch in the hammies, big stretch, big stretch. Let’s go! [Growling]. My hands look like a little ball. Look, I can’t even hit strong. Look how dirty they are, like look at that. That’s good man, that’s a hard worker, hard worker. I got to bump your weights up or something, to slow you down. You are just blowing through these lifts. Hand hug. Oh! You’re so strong. [MUSIC]. Right side hitter and Ole Miss sophomore, Emily Stroup has developed into a key force for the Rebels this season. Those closest to Emily knows she has specialized in bringing the boom since birth. I was taken two weeks early and I still weighed ten pounds as a newborn baby and I was always just like – I had rolls on my rolls as a toddler. And so they just called me Boom Boom because like, I think when I would fall it would be really loud. Basically, I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. Volleyball has always just been like my sisters and I like main thing. My sister Amy played at UND. They both won state championships. Volleyball has always like something we bond over and we’re like always doing things related to it. That meant the youngest Stroup would constantly practice volleyball even if it meant breaking items around the house. My parents were both at work and I got home from school and I was serving, like I normally do and just the side I broke through the window and I was so scared I was bawling. I was really young so I thought I would be in so much trouble for breaking a window. Yeah, not my best hit, I guess. It was fine. Emily transitioned from the driveway to dominating the prep circuit in North Dakota. As an eighth grader, Stroup developed into a college prospect with an opportunity to play 1,200 miles away in Oxford Mississippi. This is like my first real visit away from home and right when I got here I just had that family feeling just with the campus, the coaches and the girls, I really enjoyed it. So I stopped looking after that because family has always been so important to me and it’s like my own family here too and there. So, I’m so happy I came here. Like I know I’ll have friends for the rest of my life that will always — we’ll probably be all around the country, but I think we’ll always be close. Stroup had found her family but there was one thing missing, playing time. Where I was from, I started every game from eighth grade and then you come here and everything is different and faster and I’m not playing as much and I just really want to help my team. I really focused on practice, like trying to make them better. And they told me just control what you can and everything will work out. I expected her to grow a lot. I mean, we watch it over and over in Spring practice and seeing – it’s like you can see in Spring practice she always did really well, always growing every day and then when you see the complete transformation when you compare what she did this year compared to last year, it’s amazing. That step has seen Stroup double her stats in nearly every offensive category. But perhaps the biggest asset the sophomore brings is her energy. when Stoup goes up and gets a big kill, she’s screaming, like I’m screaming, it’s so fun. And I think we do a great job of picking energy back up, if we lose it I know I look so dumb, I see it after the games, but during I have no idea, like I just get so excited for other people and just like getting a point, I look ridiculous like 95% of the time, my face is like ahhh. With Stoup’s performance thus far, it’s hard not to be excited for what’s to come. As for the key, well it hasn’t changed from Stroup’s younger days. I normally just try to hit the ball as hard as I can, I’m not a very finesse type of player, I guess. Yeah, Boom Boom, duh. [MUSIC]. Well this is our pregame meal; we eat a few hours before our match. So we’re fueled up, ready to go. Both teams are already here, so that’s good. I guess we’re a little late to the party. So I have some chicken here. I’m going to get some other veggies. I’ll probably end up getting some fruit too, sugar to keep you energized. There’s a little thing that’s kind of not important, but I always give my necklace and my bracelet to Caroline Adams, no matter what tournament we’re at she puts it in the same little baggie before every single game. I give her my earrings and my necklace. I haven’t gotten them back yet. Good. Yesterday my ball design was not very good, it was really bad actually. So I am going to try to make this one really, really good. I usually write my name right here and then I put my number her and then everything after that it’s a mystery, you never know. I’m Normateching, it makes your legs feel better when they’re tired and I could barely walk up the stairs this morning in my house so I felt like it was necessary. I normally do this before every game and I get this hammer thing done, so it’s like this big like metal thing and it literally looks like a hammer and just like vibrates against your leg, Heather normally does it, that feels pretty good. But yeah, I’m just going to do this today. Making my ball normal, normal game day thing. Well I am ready to go, I’m just getting a little heat on my back, it’s a little tight right now but after this it’s going to be great, we’re going to have a great match, we’re going to kill it. Thumbs up. Alright, that’s a wrap, you guys got to go now. See you after the game maybe, maybe not. [MUSIC[. Ole’ Miss volleyball came into the weekend on a two game losing skid and returned to Oxford one final time to get things rolling heading into SEC Play. We felt like we should win all three matches and especially if we played the way that we were capable of playing and coming off a weekend where we went 1-2, we were disappointed with the results there. So maybe a little bit more pressure. The red and blue made quick work of Northwestern State and Austin Peay in straight sets to set up a Friday night showdown against the Mercer Bears for the Rebel Invitational title. Winning the two matches before Mercer was definitely extremely helpful, we went in there – especially being two sweeps we needed that. The first day we actually won two matches in a row on that day. We have an opportunity tonight to get win three, get that tournament championship. We need to come out ready to roll. We need to come out not only with energy with our voice, but with our bodies. So whatever it takes to get yourself going, do that. Right? Let’s end on a high note this weekend. [Screaming] We made it up today. It’s the final match of the Ole’ Miss Classic here in Oxford. Ole’ Miss unbeaten so far, having a chance to claim the tournament crown. Got to get mean. The Rebs angry attack proved to be too strong for Mercer and allowed the host to control the contest from the start. [Game noise]. No, don’t do it like that. Macro attack, tipped by Thompson give her another kill, not the prettiest, not a lot of thunder there but does the job. Ole’ Miss wins the first set. They looked like they were running away with it. But they quickly learned the lead wouldn’t stand tall. You go in there and the score resets and now it’s 0-0, but you’re mentally already like, “Hey we’re 13 points ahead.” So it’s hard to just go, “Hey the score restarted and the other team can come back and do the same thing to us.” They got a lot of momentum like the second and third game and we just weren’t clicking very well. I don’t know the vibes were kind of weird on the court. [MUSIC]. While the home team was dealing with weird vibes, Mercer took advantage, winning the second frame and carried the momentum entering the third. We got to bring up our energy level, we’re down four right now. Alright, they got the momentum, how we going to take that? It’s going to be from being aggressive. Our team needs energy. I know, like cheers, like energy. [Cheering] Fate, outside Wernenin cross court, blocked straight down, by the tandum of Krogman and Alsten. the momentum of the Gillom Center has shifted, the Mercer Bears on fire as of late. Alsten finds space between the net the Mercer Bears take a two games to one, lead. With their backs against the wall, Coach McRoberts turned to a page in the playbook he wrote five days earlier. Hey, so we’re going to work, we’re going to pull out what we worked on a practice a modified 5-1; alright. So Jo’s starting with Stroup opposite; okay. Everybody got it? Okay. Okay let’s go. It was really cool actually, we practiced it only one time before and we knew we had it in our arsenal of things to do but we didn’t know when we would bring it out and when we did we were really excited for it and it brought a whole new energy. You just kind of go, “Okay, we’re going to try it now.” And it’s something that we hadn’t done in any match situation yet. Not only had we not done it, now we’re doing it with a ton of pressure on the team to do it well. And boy did they respond. Fate outside is Stroup on the right off the center and another kill. Lots of emotion for Ole’ Miss. The new offense proved to be a spark ignited by sophomore center Jordan Fate. She’s got that energy type of personality, it just seemed like all of a sudden that fourth set, again the momentum flipped back to our side just like it was in the first set. We just have to stay here mentalty; alright. Knowing that again if something happens, let it go. They may take a good swing, let it go. Bars with a dump, picked up by Wismich. Alsten, Bars, Warnell, let’s play five. Where you all going? Ronny and I always talk about who am I going to go to at the end of the game and how should I set them up, in the middle and at the beginning of the game so they can go back and get that last kill. On this night, there was no question who Fate was setting up, Senior Lexi Thompson. Fate right side tops it off hands to the floor it goes, killed them at 22. When everything is clicking, that’s such a great thing. You feel confidence, I know I struggle a lot with confidence and Ronny really tries to help me. And you just feel better and your teammates are automatically happier. I feel good because I’m getting the point, but that means we’re all getting the point so I don’t care if anybody else is hitting it, it’s just nice to go on a run. Bars outside, Thompson another kill for 14. Lexi was playing so good. Like everyone knew it was going to her and she still would get the kills. Match point, Ole’ Miss 14-11, they leave their junior libero at the backline serving It’s Caroline Adams [Cheering]. 15-11 in the fifth and final set. Are you ready? Hell yeah. Damn Right. Hotty Toddy, gosh almighty who the hell are we? Hey! Rim! Ram! Flim! Flam! Ole’ Miss by Damn. [Cheering]. Lexi 24 kills tonight. [Cheering]. I’m really proud, because there’s been times in this program’s history where we would not have won that. And we’ve all lived through that that have been here. I’m very proud that we dug down, won that, won our tournament 3-0; okay. Great job. [MUSIC] [Crashing sound] That’s a good start to the game day. Carol is like so low to the ground sometimes. [MUSIC]. Emily smells funny. She’s a geology teacher and I drew the rock cycle for her on my ball. We play on the — I just spit. Hello? It’s working. I know Heather. You’re the one that always has to be like, don’t get the mics to close to the bench.

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