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Arkansas suffers near miss at Georgia Tech

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas suffers near miss at Georgia Tech

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ATLANTA, Ga. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team suffered a near-miss loss at Georgia Tech Friday at the Regency Suites/Georgia Tech Invitational in Atlanta, Ga. Arkansas (0-4) fell to the host Yellow Jackets (4-0), 24-26, 22-25, 14-25, in one of the hardest fought battles of the young season. “I think for sure it was the best outing we’ve had so far,” said Arkansas head coach Robert Pulliza. “We played hard and played together all night. Although we did not get the win, we were better at the end of the night than the beginning.” Arkansas enjoyed several moral wins in the match. One was the successful return of junior Destiny Clark to the lineup. Clark was sidelined in 2007 with injury but stepped in at Georgia Tech with nine kills, hit .471 and had a block. “It was a great showing for Destiny,” said Pulliza. “It is exciting to see a kid who has gone through so many things get back on the court and play as well as she did tonight.” Clark tied freshman Kelli Stipanovich to lead Arkansas with nine kills each. That mark is just one shy of a career-best for Stipanovich. The Razorbacks also posted a season-best 31 kills and .152 hitting percentage. “We’re moving in the right direction,” said Pulliza. “We have thrown a lot at this team and they are responding well. We’re seeing things from practice transition into matches.” The first set came down to the wire before Georgia Tech was able to steal the win, 26-24. The opening frame had seven lead changes and 17 ties as the sea-saw battle was balanced between both teams. Tied at 23, Pulliza burned his final timeout of the set but it would be Tech who would score first from the break. Clark answered for Arkansas with a kill laced between a pair of defenders as the score was again tied. But Georgia Tech got the next kill off a long rally and followed with a tough serve that saw Arkansas overpass the ball and the Yellow Jackets put it down for the final point. Despite the loss, Arkansas played it’s statistically best set of the season hitting .281 with 12 kills, four each from Clark and Stipanovich. Arkansas out-blocked Tech, 3-1, but the Yellow Jackets tallied 19 kills and hit .300 for the win. The second set was equally as heated with Arkansas out-hitting GT, .241 to .235, but Tech managed the win. The set featured nine ties but only two lead changes as Tech was able to hold on to its lead for much of the stanza. Arkansas was again within two late, trailing, 21-23, but a kill by the Yellow Jackets gave the home team set point. Arkansas survived one set point when Clark ripped a kill off the block but Tech’s Alison Campbell answered with the final score. The Razorbacks struggled coming out of the locker room in the third set and found themselves down, 12-6, as Pulliza burned his second and final timeout. At that point, Arkansas was hitting zero with three kills and three errors while Tech was blistering the ball hitting .308. A mini 4-2 run by Arkansas followed fueled by several Georgia Tech miscues as the Razorbacks closed the gap. The Yellow Jackets took their first timeout of the set, leading 14-10, and promptly scored out of the break. As the lead grew, so did Arkansas’ unforced errors on both sides of the ball. Out of timeouts, Pulliza made several substitutions to try and stop the run but Arkansas could not overcome the early deficit. The Razorbacks hit negative for the first time in the match with five kills and seven errors in the loss. The Razorbacks return to the court Saturday taking on No. 25 Michigan at 6 p.m. as tournament action continues. For more information about Arkansas volleyball, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)