Jonesboro, AR (A-State) – The Arkansas State volleyball team defeated Ole Miss by a score of 3-1 (25-19, 25-19, 21-25, 25-18) in the nightcap and final match of the A-State Invitational after falling to SMU 3-0 (25-27, 23-25, 16-25) earlier in the day at the Convocation Center.
Carlisa May led the Red Wolves (3-4) with 17 kills in the win over Ole Miss (4-3), while Drew Jones added 11 kills and 13 digs for her third double-double of the tournament. Jessica Uke tallied 10 kills on a .368 hitting percentage and had four blocks, including three block solos. Ellie Watkins handed out 43 assists and also had seven kills and two aces. Tatum Ticknor led A-State with 23 digs. Ole Miss was led by Lexi Thompson’s 15 kills.
The win for A-State was its first over a Southeastern Conference opponent since 2009 and the first for the Red Wolves under head coach David Rehr.
“We were in a dark place the last 24 hours after the loss to Virginia Tech last night,” Rehr said. “We changed some things up and we were more like ourselves this morning against a good SMU squad, but still weren’t where we needed to be. However, we really clicked and got back to playing our style of volleyball tonight against Ole Miss. Always great to beat Ole Miss and I’m proud of the way we responded to adversity. All of our coaches did a tremendous job and I’m looking forward to a great day of practice Monday as we move forward.”
The Red Wolves began the match by racing out to a 10-6 lead that forced an Ole Miss timeout and despite the Rebels’ best attempts were able to maintain a lead throughout the set extending it to 22-18 before another stoppage by the visitors. The timeout didn’t cool off Arkansas State as a 3-1 run gave the home team a 25-19 set win.
Ole Miss flipped the script in set two by jumping out to a 10-6 edge, but a 7-1 run, capped on a kill from May, gave A-State the momentum ahead 13-11. The visitors earned the next point but the Red Wolves extended the lead to 22-14 on a kill by Timber Terrell. Ole Miss battled to within 23-19, but two straight points gave A-State the set 25-19.
Both teams battled to a 9-9 tie in set three before Ole Miss took a 15-11 advantage they wouldn’t relinquish. A-State battled to within one point on several occasions, including 22-21 after a kill by May, but three straight points by the Rebels gave them the set 25-21.
A-State ran out to a 12-5 lead on an ace by Kenzie Fields in set four and saw the Rebels call their second and final timeout of the set. A-State increased the lead to 16-8 on another kill by Terrell, but Ole Miss eventually fought back to within four at 20-16 on a kill by Kate Gibson. However, a 5-2 run by the home squad, capped by a service ace at the hand of Watkins, gave the Red Wolves a 25-18 game four win and 3-1 match win.
Earlier in the day, A-State and SMU (3-3) were locked in a tight battle in set one with the home team earning a 16-14 edge on a block by May, but a 7-0 run by the Mustangs put them in front 21-16. However, the Red Wolves battled back to tie the set three times, with the last coming at 25-25 on a kill by Jones. Despite the comeback by A-State, SMU was able to gather the final two points needed for a 27-25 win.
The second set much the same with A-State taking a 19-16 advantage on a kill by Jones, but a 7-3 run by the Mustangs put the visitors ahead 23-22. A kill by Uke made it 24-23 in favor of SMU, but an A-State attack error gave SMU the set 25-23. The third set wasn’t much of a battle with the Mustangs claiming a 17-10 lead to force an Arkansas State timeout. A-State couldn’t close the gap much and eventually lost the set 25-16 and the match 3-0.
Jones led the team with 14 kills and had 14 digs for her fourth double-double of the season. Ticknor posted 18 digs and Uke led the team with four blocks. SMU out hit A-State .210 to .099 with the .099 attacking percentage representing the first time since Aug. 30, 2014 against Auburn, a span of 96 matches, that the Red Wolves were held under .100 for a match. Lauren Mills led SMU with 13 kills, while Brittany Adams had a double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs.
Virginia Tech was the champion of this season’s A-State Invitational with a 2-1 record and head-to-head win over SMU, who also had a 2-1 record. Ester Talamazzi of Virginia Tech was named the MVP of the event, with teammates Jaila Tolbert and Rhegan Mitchell also named All-Tournament. Lauren Mills and Kelly Brunstein were SMU’s representatives on the All-Tournament squad, while A-State’s Jones and Ole Miss’s Emily Stroup rounded out the team.
Jones recorded 40 kills (3.64 per set) and 37 digs (3.36 per set) during the three matches and claimed a double-double in all three. She also added three aces, three blocks, and three assists.
Arkansas State returns to action Sept. 7-9 at the Central Arkansas Invitational. The Red Wolves play host UCA Thursday night at 7 p.m. before a match against UCF Friday at 5:30 p.m. A-State finishes the even with a Saturday morning match at 10:30 a.m. versus Southern.