– In its first match of the Razorback Invitational, the University of Arkansas volleyball team posted a three-set win over Houston Baptist (25-17, 25-16, 25-18) Friday evening at Barnhill Arena. Jasmine Norton
had a match-high 13 kills, Liz Fortado
and Hayley Koop
each added nine kills and the Razorback offense posted a .336 hitting percentage. From her setter position, Raymariely Santos
notched her fifth double-double of the season with 33 assists and 11 digs.
“We came out ready and executed,” head coach Robert Pulliza
said. “You can tell by the numbers with a .336 hitting percentage and 55 digs. Those two numbers are pretty impressive on the offensive and defensive ends. I thought we had good balance throughout the night and did some good things.”
With her seventh kill of the match, Norton moved into third place on the program’s all-time kills list, passing Kim Storey (1995-98, 1,471 kills) in the process. She now has 1,478 kills in her career and is 22 away from becoming the third player in Arkansas volleyball history to reach the 1,500 mark.
Santos reached a career milestone of her own in Friday’s match against the Huskies. The junior setter is the fifth player in school history to eclipse 2,000 career assists. With Friday’s effort, Santos now has 2,031 assists in her Razorback career.
Arkansas (7-2) controlled the opening set with a blistering .484 hitting percentage. Fortado registered the first three kills of the match for the Razorbacks and the home team led 11-7 after consecutive kills from Norton and Koop. The lead reached seven—17-10—after an HBU attack error. The visitors called their second timeout after a service ace by Monica Bollinger
gave Arkansas a 22-14 lead. On the Razorbacks’ first set point, Norton found the floor to secure the opener, 25-17.
In the second set, Arkansas won five of the first seven points to maintain its momentum. Houston Baptist (6-3) pulled to within two early but a quick three-point push gave the Razorbacks a 14-8 lead and forced a timeout from the Huskies. Later in the set, the home team took advantage of three HBU miscues in a four-point window to take a 19-10 lead. Fortado and Janeliss Torres-Lopez
teamed up for a block to give Arkansas set point. Two points later, Koop clinched the set—25-16—with her second kill of the game.
After a quick start by the Razorbacks to start the third, the visitors rallied to pull within one at 12-11. In the final decisive move of the match, Arkansas responded with four straight points to regain control of play. The Razorbacks reached 20 after back-to-back kills on the outside by Norton and Koop, respectively. Like she did to start the night, Fortado pounded consecutive kills to close out the third set—25-18—and the match.
“We learned a lot from our last match,” Santos said. “We’ve been working the last few days on how we need to get ready for the next match, and how every match is important. I think we did a good job of that today. We handled the situation well, and now just need to get ready for two matches tomorrow.”
Day two of the Razorback Invitational begins Saturday with an 11 a.m. (CT) matchup between Arkansas and ULM. In the tournament finale, the Razorbacks return to the court to play UTEP with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday’s tournament slate also includes matches between Houston Baptist and UTEP at 1:30 p.m. and ULM and Houston Baptist at 4:30 p.m.
For match coverage of this weekend’s Razorback Invitational, including an interactive blog, live stats and video stream, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Both of the team’s matches Saturday will also be broadcast on KXUA 88.3 FM in Fayetteville. Fans can also keep up with Razorback volleyball with its sport-specific RazorbackVB Twitter and Facebook pages.