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Razorbacks get five-set win against Alabama

Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team notched its first five-set win of the season Friday evening against Alabama. Jasmine Norton totaled her 11th double-double of the season with a match-high 19 kills and 21 digs. Collectively, Arkansas posted a .293 hitting percentage and had 11.0 total team blocks. With the win, the Razorbacks improved to 17-6 overall and 8-4 in Southeastern Conference play.

With her first kill of the second set, and third of the match, Amanda Anderson tallied the 700th kill of her Razorback career. The Euless, Texas, native finished the night with six kills and a match-high seven total blocks. At the pins, Roslandy Acosta and Liz Fortado had 14 and 11 kills, respectively.

“We have some seniors that are hungry,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “We talked about that through the match. Time is winding down and you have to enjoy every moment you have with each other being a Razorback. They stepped up (in the fifth set) and found a way to win. I’m very proud of this tough win.”

With the match score tied at two sets apiece, the Arkansas offense posted a .400 hitting percentage in the decisive fifth set. Alabama (14-10, 3-9 SEC) won the first two points of the set before the Razorbacks responded with five of the next six points to take the lead. The teams switched sides with Arkansas leading, 8-5. Looking for its first five-set win of the year, the Razorbacks scored the final four points of the match with two kills each from Anderson and Acosta.

In the opening set, the Razorbacks turned an early two-point advantage into a 14-9 lead to force the match’s first timeout from Alabama. During the push, Arkansas got a kill and service ace from Norton. Later in the game, the visitors pulled to within two points with the Razorbacks still leading 18-16. Pulliza called a timeout to stop the Alabama run.

Arkansas re-establish a five-point lead—23-18—after a consecutive second-contact kills by Santos. The Razorbacks won four of the final five points of the set to clinch the opener, using an Alabama service error on the second set point to close out the opener, 25-19. The home team registered a .423 hitting percentage in the first set.

After trailing through the early stages of the second set, the Razorbacks evened the score at 10-all with a tandem block from Anderson and Fortado and a kill from Norton. Arkansas took a 15-12 lead after back-to-back kills from Acosta and Santos. Out of an Alabama timeout, Santos and Janeliss Torres-Lopez teamed up for a block.

Another block, a solo swat by Anderson, pushed the Arkansas lead to 23-16 and forced a second timeout from Crimson Tide head coach. Norton gave the Razorbacks a handful of set points with a kill and on the next play, an Anderson-Santos block secured the set, 25-17, and gave Arkansas the 2-0 match lead. Another late-set run, this time a 5-1 surge, helped close out the game.

In the third set, the Razorbacks jumped out to an early 5-1 lead but Alabama responded right away to take a 6-5 lead. The score was tied at 9-all before the Crimson Tide scored four of the next five points to take control of the set. The visitors led by as much as four points through the end of the set, picking up their first set win, 25-21, with a kill by Pricilla Duke-Ezeji.

Just like the third set, Arkansas went out to a 5-1 lead to start the fourth. The Crimson Tide chipped away before tying the score at 14-all on another kill by Duke-Ezeji. The teams traded points late into the set until the score was tied at 22-22. Alabama scored the final three points to clinch the fourth set, forcing a fifth with a kill Sierra Wilson.

Arkansas will return to Barnhill Arena Sunday afternoon to face Missouri (15-7, 7-5 SEC). First serve of the Southeastern Conference match is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (CT). The two programs last met during the 2005 season, prior to the Tigers joining the SEC. Missouri leads the all-time series with Arkansas, 3-2.

Single-match tickets are $4, while fans 17 years and younger are admitted for free. University of Arkansas students attending volleyball matches this season are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter Barnhill Arena.

For continued coverage of Arkansas volleyball, including interactive blog, live stats and audio stream, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Sunday’s match will be broadcast this weekend on KXUA 88.3 FM in Fayetteville. Fans can also keep up with Razorback volleyball this season with its sport-specific RazorbackVB Facebook and Twitter pages.

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