FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team lost to second-ranked Florida in four sets (25-22, 18-25, 20-25, 16-25) Friday night at Barnhill Arena. The match was played in front of 1,219 fans, the 10th-largest crowd in program history. With the loss, Arkansas drops to 12-7 overall and 5-3 in Southeastern Conference play.
Junior Meredith Hays and senior Hayley Koop led the team with 10 and nine kills, respectively, while senior libero Emily Helm collected a team-high 16 digs. In her first matchup with the Gators, freshman Breana Jones had seven kills, four total blocks, two digs and a service ace. Collectively, the Razorbacks held Florida to a .237 hitting percentage, its second-lowest figure of the year; the Gators entered the match with a .351 season average, the second-best mark in the NCAA.
Helm moved into 15th place on the program’s career digs (798) list during Friday’s match while sophomore Monica Bollinger tallied the 300th career dig with her fourth scoop against Florida. With her first kill of the match, sophomore Liz Fortado tallied the 250th kill of her career.
The Razorbacks handed Florida (18-1, 7-0 SEC) its first set loss since Sept. 14 with its win in the opener. The home team won nine of the first 11 points of the match, taking a seven-point lead on a kill by Fortado. The Gators rallied and pulled even at 17-all but Arkansas won the next three points to re-establish its advantage and never trailed again, closing it out on a UF attack error. Hays registered five kills in game one.
After dropping sets two and three, Arkansas was down to its last opportunity to extend play with the fourth set. The early stages of the frame featured back-and-forth play with nine ties until the score was tied at 13-all. The Gators pushed ahead with a three-point surge to go up on the scoreboard. The Razorbacks got as close as two before Florida finished the match on a six-point scoring run.
The Razorbacks return to competition Sunday for a matchup against Georgia with first serve scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. The match will be televised by CSS and CST; check local listings for channel availability. Bruce Haertl and Brittany Roderick will handle the play-by-play and color commentary duties, respectively. Tickets will be on sale for $1 and the team will sign autographs following the match.
For more information on Arkansas volleyball, follow @RazorbackVB on Twitter.