– Behind a .330 hitting percentage, the University of Arkansas volleyball team knocked off Kentucky in straight sets (25-23, 25-23, 25-20) Friday evening at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington. The Razorbacks’ win snapped a 10-match skid against Kentucky and was the program’s first win on the Wildcats’ home floor since the 2003 season. With the win, Arkansas improves to 15-6 overall and 6-4 in Southeastern Conference play.
The Razorbacks were paced by a match-high 16 kills from Jasmine Norton
and 14 kills from Roslandy Acosta
. From her setter position, Raymariely Santos
notched her 12th double-double of the season with 33 assists and a season-high 15 digs. The team also got eight kills from Amanda Anderson
and seven from freshman Liz Fortado
who did not commit an error in 13 attacks. Led by Santos’ defensive efforts, Arkansas had five players with at least four digs.
“We were a great unit tonight,” head coach Robert Pulliza
said. “We’ve talked about that being our strength: having strength in numbers, playing hard and playing together. We lost a little bit of that and got comfortable for about a week but the character of a team shows after a defeat. We showed tonight that we have great character.”
The Razorbacks took the early lead and had a one-point advantage when Kentucky went on a four-point run to take a 19-16 lead. Out of a timeout by head coach Pulliza, Arkansas scored two quick points to close the deficit and eventually took the lead, 22-21, on a kill by Norton. The Wildcats evened the score at 23-all, but Arkansas tallied the final two kills of the set from Anderson and Acosta to clinch the opener. The Razorbacks registered a .371 hitting percentage in the first set.
The second set played out almost exactly like the opener with the teams battling to a 13-13 tie. Kentucky jumped out to a 10-4 lead before the Razorbacks began to cut into their deficit and eventually pull even on a kill by Norton. From that point, the score was tied five times with the final occurrence coming at 23-all. Acosta gave Arkansas set point with another kill and a UK attack error on the next point sent the visitors into intermission with a 2-0 match lead.
In the third set, Arkansas carried the momentum back onto the floor and jumped out to a five-point lead. Norton powered through the Wildcat block to give the Razorbacks an 11-6 lead and force a timeout from UK head coach Craig Skinner. Arkansas pushed its lead to 15-8 after a service ace from Monica Bollinger
. Facing a seven-point deficit, Kentucky scored five in a row to pull to within two but the Razorbacks responded to regain a five-point advantage, 20-15.
Fortado gave the team a handful of match points with her first career service ace. Kentucky saved the first with a kill out of the middle, but on the next play, Santos delivered the ball out to Norton who put the ball away to secure the road victory.
The Razorbacks return to action Sunday afternoon for their weekend finale against Mississippi State. First serve of the Western Division matchup is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (CT) at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville. In the all-time series between Arkansas and Mississippi State, the Razorbacks own a 32-5 advantage and have won three straight. Last season, Arkansas posted a pair of straight-set victories over the Bulldogs.
For weekend match coverage, including interactive blog, live stats and audio stream, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also keep up with Razorback volleyball this season with its sport-specific RazorbackVB Facebook and Twitter pages.