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Courtesy: Walt Beazley
Kasey Heckelman (right) had a team-high five blocks Tuesday.
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Four-set loss to Oklahoma at Barnhill Arena

09/04/2012
Zach Lawson, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team dropped a four-set decision (25-19, 18-25, 27-25, 25-18) to Oklahoma Tuesday evening in front of 1,012 fans at Barnhill Arena. In the loss, Jasmine Norton matched her season high with 19 kills and added 12 digs for her fifth double-double effort of the season. Raymariely Santos tallied a double-double of her own with 43 assists and 11 digs. Defensively, the Razorbacks were paced by 14 digs from libero Emily Helm and five total blocks from Kasey Heckelman.

“We’re looking for fight, hard work and a commitment to being great,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “You can’t teach that. At some point, it has to be something you want to be. We have to find that. We’ve been doing some good things but we got a little complacent today. When you do that against a good team like Oklahoma, you get in trouble fast.”

The teams traded points early and were tied for the sixth time when Liz Fortado found the floor to even the score at 11-all. However, Oklahoma made a quick push to go ahead 17-14 and force a timeout from Pulliza. The visitors maintained their advantage through the remainder of the opener and arrived at set point with a service ace. Arkansas saved one set point but the Sooners went on to close out the game, 25-19.

The Razorbacks responded in the second set to even the match. With the score tied at seven, Arkansas reeled off six points in a row to take a 13-7 lead. During that run, the home team picked up three kills from Norton and a pair of tandem blocks from Fortado and Heckelman. The Razorbacks’ largest lead of the set was eight—20-12—after a block from Fortado and Janeliss Torres-Lopez. On the team’s second set point, Santos buried a second-touch kill to clinch the game, 25-18.

Out of the break, Arkansas jumped out to an early lead in the third set and jumped out to a 13-8 lead after consecutive kills from Norton. The visitors called their first timeout of the game with the Razorbacks leading, 17-14. Oklahoma went on a 4-0 scoring run late in the set to even the score at 20-20, but Arkansas responded to win four of the next six points to arrive at set point. The Sooners saved both set points and on their second chance to win the game, took the match lead with a 27-25 win.

Oklahoma carried the momentum into the fourth set and went out to an early 10-4 lead. Facing deficits as large as seven throughout the game, the Razorbacks chipped away but never got closer than four points. In one final push, Arkansas pulled to within four—Oklahoma leading, 19-15—to force a timeout from Oklahoma. But the visitors withstood the challenge and won the final three points of the set, ending the match with a service ace.

Arkansas returns to action this weekend for its second home tournament of the season. The Razorback Invitational begins Friday and continues through Saturday at Barnhill Arena. The two-day event will also include the teams from Houston Baptist, ULM and UTEP. The Razorbacks open play Friday night against HBU with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT).

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