– Roslandy Acosta
had a career-high 15 kills and Jasmine Norton
posted a double-double performance as the University of Arkansas volleyball team beat Northwestern State in four sets (25-17, 22-25, 26-24, 25-20) Saturday at Barnhill Arena. The Razorbacks finished the match with 13.5 total blocks, including a match-high eight blocks from Janeliss Torres-Lopez
. She also added 11 kills for Arkansas.
“I think we came out ready for an early match,” head coach Robert Pulliza
said. “We started out ready to play ball but then we got a little too relaxed. We knew Northwestern State was going to dig a ton of balls and not give the match away. After they won the second set, we were able to get back into a groove and were really tough down the stretch, which was nice to see. Then we did some good things in the fourth. We just have to keep working at being consistent.”
After an even start to the first set, Arkansas (2-0) used a four-point spurt to take a 14-10 lead after back-to-back kills from Norton and Liz Fortado
, respectively. Out of a Northwestern State (0-2) timeout, the home team started to pull away. Consecutive blocks—both featuring Torres-Lopez—gave the Razorbacks a 23-15 lead and on the team’s second set point, Norton found the floor with her fifth kill of the day to close out the opener in Arkansas’ favor, 25-17. The Razorback senior finished the match with 13 kills and 16 digs.
The visitors won four of the first five points to establish control early in the second set. The Lady Demons eventually led, 13-9, after an Arkansas attack error to force a timeout from Pulliza. Trailing by three, the Razorbacks scored four points in a row to take their first lead of the match, 17-16. However, with the score tied at 20-all, Northwestern State won five of the last seven point to win the set, 25-22.
With Ashley Vazquez
at the service line early in the third set, the Razorbacks reeled off four points in a row to take a 13-6 lead. Vazquez capped the run with a service ace. Northwestern State responded by winning the next six points to get back into the set. With the score tied at 20-all, the visitors won three of the next four points and arrived at set point after a kill from Stacey DiFrancesco. With its back to the wall, Arkansas won the last three points of the set including the game winner by Acosta, her seventh of the set.
The Lady Demons jumped out to an early 7-3 lead in the fourth set but Arkansas recovered to even the score at nine-all after consecutive kills from Torres-Lopez. Vazquez served up her second ace to put the Razorbacks ahead by four, 19-15. Down the stretch, Northwestern State pulled to within a point twice but the home team maintained their lead. On the team’s first match point, Fortado and Amanda Anderson
combined for a block to close out the match with a 25-20 set win.
“I feel like this match will really help us tonight,” Norton said. “(Northwestern State) dug everything and made us step up with our defensive effort. So when we play Kansas later, we know we can get in there and really dig a lot of balls. That will give us a push when we go back out there against Kansas.”
The Razorbacks return to the court Saturday evening for the tournament finale against Kansas. First serve of the matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. The Jayhawks play UT-Martin in the second match of Saturday’s schedule at the Arkansas Invitational.
General admission at Barnhill Arena is $4 with fans 17 and younger getting in 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. Those students who have their cards swiped will receive 1,500 RazorReward points. Students attending the Kansas match Saturday will also have the opportunity to win an iPod Touch.
For match coverage of this weekend’s Arkansas Invitational, including interactive blog, live stats and video stream, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Tonight’s match against KU will be broadcast on KXUA 88.3 FM in Fayetteville. New to the 2012 season, fans can also keep up with Razorback volleyball with its sport-specific RazorbackVB Twitter and Facebook accounts.