– On a day of celebration for its six seniors, the University of Arkansas volleyball team knocked off Ole Miss in four sets (17-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22) Sunday afternoon at Barnhill Arena. Jasmine Norton
led all players with 17 kills, while fellow senior Roslandy Acosta
registered her fifth double-double of the season with 13 kills and 15 digs. With the win, the Razorbacks improved to 21-8 overall and 12-6 in Southeastern Conference play.
Prior to Sunday’s match, the Razorbacks’ six seniors—Acosta, Amanda Anderson
, Kasey Heckelman
, Marci King
, Norton and Janeliss Torres-Lopez
—were recognized with an on-court presentation. During Sunday’s match, Norton moved into 10th place on the SEC all-time kills list with 1,750 career kills. She is the first player to join that group since 2006. Raymariely Santos
finished the match with 45 assists and is now No. 4 on the program’s career assists list.
“The win speaks for itself in terms of the team’s success,” head coach Robert Pulliza
said. “More important than the win is the mark this senior class has left on Arkansas volleyball. It’s a mark that will always be remembered and they have left a stamp of excellence on what Arkansas volleyball is about. I’m very proud of them and very proud of our team today.”
Ole Miss (11-16, 5-13 SEC) never trailed in the first set, jumping out to 12-7 lead after a pair of service aces by Ty Laporte. The Razorbacks began to rally and won six of the next seven points to pull even at 13-all. However, the visitors put together a 9-1 run to take control of the opener. Arkansas saved one set point with a kill by Torres-Lopez but Ole Miss went on to close out the game, 25-17.
In the second set, the Razorbacks jumped out to a 5-2 lead after back-to-back kills from Santos
. Ole Miss pulled to within one but the home team rattled off six straight points—capped by a Norton kill—to take a 16-9 lead. The Rebels got as close as three late in set but Arkansas responded with consecutive kills by Acosta and Norton to regain momentum, and closed out the set, 25-16, by winning six of the last seven point.
The Rebels opened up an early three-point lead and led 10-7 after an Arkansas service error. The Razorbacks responded with a six-point surge that featured two solo blocks and a kill by Anderson. Down the stretch, Ole Miss pulled to within one on three separate occasions but the home team withstood the charge. The team arrived at set point on an Ole Miss attack error, and two points later, Acosta found the floor with her sixth kill of the game to secure a 2-1 match lead.
Needing to win the fourth to stay alive, the Rebels won five of the first seven points of the set. Kills by Norton and Liz Fortado
pulled Arkansas even at 9-all but Ole Miss won the next three points to regain the lead. The visitors’ lead fluctuated between one and three before Pulliza called a timeout with his team trailing, 20-17.
After the timeout, the Razorback seniors made a final stand on their home court and were responsible for six of the team’s last eight points, including the final three. Acosta and Torres-Lopez teamed up for a block to even the score at 22-all before Anderson stepped back to the service line and delivered an ace to give Arkansas its first lead of the set, 23-22. An Ole Miss attack error gave the Razorbacks match point, and on her final swing at Barnhill Arena, Norton found the back line to lift her team to the set and match win.
“We were excited to play today,” Acosta said. “I know Ole Miss was ready to play against us, so it was a battle. Even in the fourth set when we went down 17-20, we just kept saying ‘we can do this’ and ‘keep going.’ We just wanted to play hard to finish the match.”
The Razorbacks close out the regular season with a pair of road matches this week at LSU and South Carolina. Wednesday’s match against the Tigers will be televised by ESPNU at 8 p.m. (CT). Adam Amin and Maria Taylor will handle the commentary duties. For more information about Razorback volleyball or other University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.