phoebe awoleye 4

Georgia middle blocker Phoebe Awoleye (19) during a volleyball match between Georgia and South Carolina at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia, on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. (Photo by Chamberlain Smith)

Georgia volleyball edged out a 1-18 Ole Miss team Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum in five sets.

The Bulldogs went down the first set 25-18 before taking sets two and three 25-17 and 25-20. Ole Miss took the fourth set at 25-22, forcing a tie-breaker Georgia took 15-11.

"There’s lots of areas to upgrade," said head coach Tom Black after the match. "You have to find a way no matter how things are going, and I thought the girls did a really good job of that. That speaks to their fight.”

This marks the second win for Georgia in its spring season alongside a five-set win against Texas A&M on March. The Bulldogs are 2-9 since Feb. 4 and have three games left in the 2020-21 season.

Three Bulldogs hit double-digit kills on the night. Junior Mallory Hernadez led the pack with 14 kills and a .591 hitting percentage. Fellow junior Sage Naves tallied a season-best 12 kills and sophomore Kacie Evans picked up her sixth double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs. 

Junior redshirt Claire Rothenberger led the team defensively with 12 digs. Back at the net, sophomore Meghan Froemming and freshman Phoebe Awoleye dished out four blocks each.

Georgia posted nine aces Wednesday night compared to Ole Miss' five. Three of them which came from freshman Mallory Downing. But Black still thinks there's work to do across the court.

"Our serving and our blocking needs a massive upgrade," Black said. "We weren’t happy at all with that tonight. We need to get that going."

Ole Miss took off quickly in the first set, going on a 6-1 run to reach a 7-3 lead. Georgia later responded with its own 6-1 run to tie the set at 13. Ahead 18-16, the Rebels rode their momentum to win four straight points followed by a three straight soon after. Ole Miss won the set at 25-18. 

Another early 6-1 run by Georgia in set two put it ahead 8-4. The Bulldogs stayed in front, closing the set at 25-17 after winning five of the last seven rallies. 

Early set three looked good for Georgia with a 12-8 lead over the Rebels. The teams didn’t see their first tie until 18-18. Tied again at 19, Georgia won six of the next seven points to close the set at 25-20 and take a 2-1 match lead. 

The Bulldogs were unable to close the match in four sets, as they trailed close behind the Rebels throughout set four. Ole Miss halted Georgia’s momentum at 25-22 to force the fifth and final set. 

Georgia found its rhythm again in set five, keeping control of the game to the finish. Ahead by one at 6-5, Georgia used a three-point run to go up 12-8. The Bulldogs continued to take care of the ball and seal the set at 15-11. 

“It felt good,” Naves said. “I definitely didn’t have any doubt that that was going to be the case. I think that we should have tied that up in four sets, however we’re always excited to get the opportunity to compete.”

Georgia and Ole Miss will battle again Thursday night in Athens at 6 p.m. This will be the Bulldog’s final home match for the 2020-21 season.