– In its final match before the start of conference play, the University of Arkansas volleyball team defeated UTEP in four sets (28-26, 25-22, 16-25, 25-17) Saturday evening to win the Razorback Invitational title. Following the match, Raymariely Santos
was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and Emily Helm
earned Outstanding Libero honors. Liz Fortado
and Janeliss Torres-Lopez
were selected to the all-tournament team.
Santos finished the match with 44 assists and 10 digs for her third double-double of the weekend and seventh of the season. She added four kills and four total blocks to her night’s work. Jasmine Norton
had a team-high 14 kills while Torres-Lopez tallied 12 kills on a .632 hitting percentage against the Miners. Helm equaled the match high with 18 digs.
“We had a good win tonight,” head coach Robert Pulliza
said. “Three wins in one weekend is not easy, especially against a UTEP team that is doing really good things. I think they’re going to have a good year and feel fortunate to have gotten out with a win today. It was a great team effort today.”
UTEP (4-5) jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the first set but Arkansas (9-2) began to chip away and eventually tied the score at 13-all on a Miners’ attack error. In a set marked by sideouts and back-and-forth play, the opening game was tied 13 times. The Razorbacks fought off three set points, the last with an overpass kill by Hayley Koop
. The final two kills of the set came off the hand of Norton to clinch the set, 28-26.
Arkansas controlled the opening stages of play in the second set, using a tandem block from Norton and Torres-Lopez to take a 10-6 lead and force a UTEP timeout. The visitors pulled even at 14-all but the Razorbacks re-established their lead at 19-15 after an attack effort from UTEP. Arkansas maintained its advantage and on the team’s second chance to close out the set, Santos tallied a second-contact kill.
In the third set, the home team won seven of the first 10 points but the Miners responded and evened the score at 12-all with a block from Xitlali Herrera and Malia Patterson. The block started a four-point spurt for UTEP in which they took the lead for good behind an overall 8-1 run. The Miners, who hit .455 in the third, went on to win the game, 25-16.
The two teams exchanged points to begin the fourth set and were tied at 10-10 after a Razorback attack error. UTEP returned the favor with an error from the service line and Arkansas took the lead, 11-10. The home team never trailed after that point. Arkansas’ lead hit five—19-14—after Fortado and Torres-Lopez teamed up for a block. The Razorbacks won the final three points of the match, clinching the win with another Miner miscue.
“It’s good that we’re going into SEC play with a good win this weekend,” Santos said. “How we come out to practice Monday is going to be very important because that’s going to lead us into how we play next Friday against Florida. I feel like we’re in a really good position right now.”
The Razorbacks return to action Friday for the start of Southeastern Conference play against No. 15 Florida. First serve of the conference opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. The first 1,000 fans will receive a free red Razorback t-shirt. For more information regarding Razorback track and field or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
2012 Razorback Invitational All-Tournament Team
, Arkansas (Outstanding Libero)
, Arkansas (Most Valuable Player)
Jeane Horton, UTEP
Xitlali Herrera, UTEP
Jasmine Casey, Houston Baptist
Iren Marinova, ULM