– The University of Arkansas volleyball team beat Northwestern State in straight sets (25-23, 25-17, 25-17) Friday morning to begin its season with a win. Five players had at least five kills, led by nine each from senior Hayley Koop
and junior Meredith Hays
. Senior Raymariely Santos
notched a double-double performance with 19 assists and 11 digs to go along with five kills.
Arkansas returns to the court Friday night to face New Mexico in its second match of the day. First serve of the match is set for 7 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. The match will mark the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
“It’s always good to start the season off with a W,” head coach Robert Pulliza
said. “We did some good things and got better as the match went on. That was really important. There were some early jitters but our players kept their voices, stayed organized and stayed assertive and we were able to take care of the first set. After that, we got better. It was a good effort but we certainly need to get better. After the first match of the year, I think we’re in a good place.”
The Razorbacks saved their best offensive output for the final set, posting a .382 hitting percentage and committing just three attack errors while holding their opponents to a .161 figure. The score was tied at 12-12 when Arkansas began to creep ahead and building a four-point lead at 18-14 after a block on the right side. Consecutive errors from the Lady Demons gave Arkansas the win with the final serve going into the net.
With the score tied at six-all in the second set, the Razorbacks went on a 6-1 run to take control of the game. The home team forced a timeout by the Lady Demons after a service ace by sophomore Monica Bollinger
put Arkansas ahead, 15-9. The Razorbacks led by as much as nine in the game and won the last three points of the set. Arkansas combined for five total blocks in the second set.
The Razorback fell behind early in the opening set forcing Pulliza to call a timeout with his team trailing, 18-12. The home team responded with a seven-point run and 10 of the next 12 points to take a 22-20 lead after back-to-back kills from freshman Barbara Dapic
. On the team’s second set point, Koop found the floor with her second-straight kill to give Arkansas the opener, 25-23.
“In the beginning, everyone was playing with nerves,” senior libero Emily Helm
said. “It took us a little bit to collect ourselves and find our game. We were down but this team has so much fight. We were down (six) points at one time but we fought back to win in three. It showed our character and our strength.”
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