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Offense leads to straight-set win vs. UMBC

Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team registered a season-high .380 hitting percentage in Friday’s straight-set win over UMBC (25-16, 25-20, 25-7) on day one of the adidas/Michigan Challenge at Cliff Keen Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich. Roslandy Acosta led all hitters with a match-high 13 kills and Jasmine Norton added 11 kills. Paced by libero Emily Helm, Arkansas’ defense held the Retrievers to a .098 hitting percentage and had six players with at least four digs.

With just one attack error on 15 attempts, Acosta posted a .800 hitting percentage which ties her for the third-best single-match performance in school history. The Razorback senior has at least 10 kills in all five matches this season. With her sixth kill of the match—a shot down the line into the deep corner—Norton moved into fourth place on Arkansas’ all-time kills list. She currently has 1,415 kills in her career.

From her setter position, Raymariely Santos totaled 33 assists, five kills and four digs. Janeliss Torres-Lopez added six kills, a .545 hitting percentage (6-0-11) and three total blocks out of the middle. UMBC is the third opponent this season the Razorbacks have held under the .100 mark.

With the score tied at four-all in the first, Arkansas (5-0) reeled off six straight points to take control of the game. The Razorbacks pushed their lead to 19-11 after a service ace from Avery Lewis and a kill from Santos, forcing a second timeout from UMBC (2-4). Consecutive kills from Acosta brought the team to set point and an attack error by the Retrievers handed Arkansas the first set, 25-16.

“From an attacking standpoint, (Roslandy) did some really good things,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “The numbers speak for themselves. The thing that impresses me most about her is she’s always finding ways to better herself. She hit .800 and she’s continuing to ask some really good questions after the match. That’s why she’s been successful.”

After trading points early in the second set, the Razorbacks scored five of six points to take a 14-9 lead after a kill from Torres-Lopez. Norton found the floor later in the set to give her team an 18-13 lead and force another UMBC timeout. The Retrievers pulled to within three late in the set but Hayley Koop closed out the set, 25-20, with a kill and solo block on consecutive points.

Arkansas trailed by two early in the third set but used an eight-point scoring run with Norton at the service line to take a 10-4 lead. After UMBC broke that streak, Kasey Heckelman stepped to the line for 12 straight points. By the time she was done serving, the Razorbacks had a 22-5 advantage. Acosta and Norton both had three kills in the set but Amanda Anderson had the final kill of the match to close out the set, 25-7, and seal the Razorbacks’ fifth win of the season.

“Being our first road match in a different environment, I’m certainly pleased with the outcome,” Pulliza said. “The score in the third set (25-7) indicates we got better as the match went on. We were sloppy at times but were able to manage ourselves to execute. We have to clean it up in our first match tomorrow against Central Michigan, a very good team.”

The Razorbacks resume continue weekend action at the adidas/Michigan Challenge with two match Saturday. Arkansas will first face Central Michigan at 12:30 p.m. (CT) and close out the tournament against the host team, No. 22 Michigan. Both Central Michigan and Michigan advanced to last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Chippewas lost in the first round to eventual national runner-up Illinois while the Wolverines advanced to the regional semifinal round.

For coverage of this weekend’s matches in Ann Arbor, Mich., log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com for live stats and interactive blog. An audio stream of the matches will be also be available. New for the 2012 season, fans can follow Razorback volleyball with its sport-specific RazorbackVB Twitter and Facebook pages.

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