– Down a set down and facing set points in the second and third sets, the University of Arkansas volleyball team rallied past Kansas in four sets (18-25, 27-25, 26-24, 25-21) Saturday evening to win the 2012 Arkansas Invitational. Senior Roslandy Acosta
was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and was joined on the All-Tournament Team by senior Jasmine Norton
and junior Raymariely Santos
Acosta finished the match with 16 kills and nine digs. Norton completed a double-double performance with 16 digs and registered a .308 hitting percentage against the Jayhawks. From her setter position, Santos tallied 48 assists, six kills and six digs. Junior libero Emily Helm
had a team-high 19 digs wearing the Cardinal jersey.
“It was a great match tonight,” head coach Robert Pulliza
said. “Kansas is a very good team. I’m a true believer that they will be an NCAA Tournament team. I’m really proud of our kids and the way they fought. I’m really proud of them for the way they kept their poise and finished the match. Once we found our fight, they were relentless whether in front or from behind.”
During the second set, Norton moved into sole possession of fifth place on Arkansas’ all-time kills list. She moved past Denise Baez (1994-96) and now trails Libby Windell (1,409 kills, 1999-2002) for fourth place on the list. Norton finished the match with a match-high 20 kills and now has 1,390 kills in her career.
Arkansas (3-0) won three of the first four points to start the match, capped by consecutive kills from Liz Fortado
and Norton, respectively. The opening set was tied seven tied through the first half of play with neither team gaining more than a two-point lead. However, the Jayhawks scored four points in a row late in the set to take a 21-16 lead. Kansas (2-1) maintained the advantage and closed out the first set, 25-18, on a tandem block by Chelsea Albers and Caroline Jarmoc.
The visitors carried the momentum over into the second set and took an early 4-1 lead. Arkansas trailed by as much as four through the early stages of the set but fought back to tie the score at 18-all after back-to-back kills from Norton and Acosta. The Razorbacks grabbed their first lead of the set—22-21—after an attack error from Jarmoc.
Kansas recovered and had set point at 24-23 but Acosta found the floor with a kill to keep the Razorbacks alive. The teams traded the next two points to remain even but Arkansas turned to its outside hitters to win the set. Norton had a kill out of the back row to give the home team set point and Acosta finished it off with a kill of her own to send the Razorbacks into the locker room with a 27-25 win.
The fourth set played out almost identical to the third. The Jayhawks took an early 10-6 lead to force Pulliza into a timeout. Their lead held steady and grew to five at 21-16 after a block by Albers and Tayler Tolefree. Arkansas responded by winning seven of the next nine points to pull even at 23-23. The Jayhawks were a point away from winning the set but wasted the opportunity with a service error. On Arkansas’ first set point, Acosta closed things out again, 26-24, with a kill.
“Before the game, we talked about being ready because Kansas is a really good team,” Acosta said. “We had to fight all day long. Even with the scores so close, we just kept fighting and got the win. I just want to help my team win. That’s the first thing on my mind. Win, win, win and help my team.”
Riding the momentum of their third-set comeback, the Razorbacks went out to a 6-2 lead and never trailed in the fourth game. Kills from Acosta and Janeliss Torres-Lopez
forced an early timeout from Kansas with Arkansas ahead, 9-5. The Jayhawks pulled to within two later in the set but consecutive points in favor of the home team pushed the lead back to 19-15. On the team’s second set point, Norton posted her 20th and final kill of the night to secure the game, 25-21, and clinch the four-set win.
The Razorbacks return to their home court Tuesday, Aug. 28 for a midweek matchup with Tulsa. First serve of the match is schedule for 7 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. Arkansas holds a 6-1 advantage in the all-time series with Tulsa, including a 3-1 edge in matches played in Fayetteville. The two teams last met in 2009, a five-set road victory for the Razorbacks.
For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.