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Courtesy: Gunnar Rathbun
Arkansas improved to 3-0 with its straight-set win over UMKC.
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Straight-Set Win Seals Arkansas Invitational Title

09/02/2013
Athletic Communications
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FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team completed an undefeated weekend Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 win (25-23, 25-22, 33-31) over UMKC at Barnhill Arena. With the victory, the Razorbacks improved to 3-0 this year and clinched the team title at the season-opening Arkansas Invitational. Junior Meredith Hays paced the offense with a match-high 18 kills while senior Raymariely Santos notched her second double-double performance of the season with 28 assists and 10 digs.
 
Santos earned Tournament MVP honors for her weekend performance. Senior Emily Helm was named Most Outstanding Libero while fellow seniors Hayley Koop and Ashley Vazquez landed on the All-Tournament Team for their respective efforts.

“It’s always good to start the season off with a championship and undefeated,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “It was a great weekend of volleyball and our players showed great resilience. We basically played all three matches in a 24-hour span but our players were warriors this weekend. I’m really proud of them.”

In the extended third game, the Razorbacks saved six set points and had four match points before cashing in on their fifth opportunity. Facing a pair of UMKC set points at 24-22, Hays found the floor with back-to-back kills to even the score; the junior transfer had nine of her match-high 18 kills in the third set. With the score at tied 31-31, Santos went to Hays on consecutive plays and she delivered with the final two points of the match.

In game one, Arkansas won 11 of the last 13 points—including the final six of the set—to erase a late seven-point deficit. The visitors led 21-14 for their largest lead of the set. Hays and freshman Danielle Harbin tallied three kills each during the Razorbacks’ run. Harbin finished the match with 14 kills on a .417 hitting percentage. Hays’ kill to give Arkansas the 24-23 advantage was its first lead of the match. The Razorbacks registered a .317 hitting efficiency in the opener.

Despite winning four of the first five points to begin the second, the Razorbacks found themselves trailing by as much as four after a UMKC kill put the visitors ahead, 15-11. Arkansas chipped away until pulling even at 21-all with a kill off the hand of Harbin. The final four points ended in favor of the Razorbacks with Hays and sophomore Summer Morgan clinching the set, 25-22, and the 2-0 match lead with a tandem block.

“It feels good to win,” Hays said after the match. “We’re just getting started. We’ve been working through preseason but we hadn’t seen any other team. It’s good we came out 3-0 this weekend but we definitely have some work to do.”

The Razorbacks play three matches next week beginning with a Sept. 3 road date at Oklahoma. First serve of the midweek matchup is slated for 7 p.m. (CT) at the McCasland Field House in Norman. Arkansas will close out its week with a home-and-home series against Kansas with the Razorbacks hosting Sept. 5 at Barnhill Arena.

For more information on Arkansas volleyball, follow @RazorbackVB on Twitter.
MVP: Raymariely Santos, Arkansas
Most Outstanding Libero: Emily Helm, Arkansas
All-Tournament Team: Hayley Koop, Arkansas; Ashley Vazquez, Arkansas; Chantale Riddle, New Mexico; Miquella Lovato, New Mexico; Caiti O'Connell, Northwestern State; Sydney Crimmins, UMKC.

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