But Friday night's fairly easy 3-0 win over the Bulldogs for Coach Joe Getzin's team before a full house at the Gillom Sports Center here was important. Even with the recent rise of the Ole Miss program, lately MSU has been a thorn in its side.
Ole Miss and State split their two volleyball matches last season. Prior to that, the Bulldogs had won six straight.
Ole Miss was better but MSU was winning. Even during the Rebels' two recent NCAA Tournament seasons in 2006 and 2007, State won three of four.
It isn't all about State, of course, but winning against the in-state rival helps on a lot of levels. The smile on Getzin's face after the victory Friday night said it all, or at least most of it.
The win was key because it moved Ole Miss to 4-2 in Southeastern Conference play and well ahead of all other teams in the SEC West race. It was also key because the Rebels didn't start the season very well in non-conference play. The win over MSU put Ole Miss' overall season mark at 8-7.
But volleyball is such a long season. The SEC portion is 20 games. Only six games in now, there's indeed a long way to go.
"Obviously there's a lot of work left," Getzin said. "But we just need to keep winning and it all takes care of itself."
The Rebels were coming off an impressive 3-0 win at Georgia. The team is playing its best volleyball of the season.
"We have a lot of young players. Our young kids have stepped up to the challenge," Getzin said of what's happened lately. "It's a little bit of confidence and the seniors have been good leaders for us."
He can't emphasize enough how important the veteran players are to this year's team.
"Definitely big. The older players have made sure the younger ones know every day in practice what's important."
Beating Mississippi State was likely one of those they mentioned this past week.
How good is it to beat State?
"Always," Getzin said, smiling, even laughing a bit with happiness and maybe some relief. "Always."
The Rebels and Bulldogs go at it again Nov. 16 in Starkville.
For Ole Miss, it now becomes all about Alabama as the Rebels host the Crimson Tide at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
"Each one is important, and we need to play well again on Sunday and with confidence," Getzin said.
Just like his team did against MSU Friday night.
Volleyball steps up in big win over State
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