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Arkansas survives five-game thriller

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas survives five-game thriller

Jump to Mississippi Statebox score FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team survived a five-game thriller winning in dramatic fashion at Mississippi State in Southeastern Conference action Friday. Arkansas improved to 18-8 overall and 10-3 in SEC action with the 23-30, 30-22, 30-25, 24-30, 15-4 win over Mississippi State who fell to 12-10 overall and 3-9 in league play. “We survived,” said an exhausted Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. “I wish we were playing more consistently but I really like the determination and focus we show at the end of the match.” The Lady Razorbacks remain on top of the SEC Western Division standings with the victory. Arkansas is one match ahead of LSU who improved to 9-4 with a five-game win at Ole Miss Friday. Alabama, who was tied with LSU for second in the West, suffered a three-game loss to No. 4 Florida falling back one match. State, Auburn and Mississippi round out the West and all lost Friday. Arkansas finished the match hitting .243 paced by Christina Lawrence who tied her career-best with 17 kills, a mark she’s reached three times this season. Lawrence hit a team-leading .652 for the match. The two-time SEC Freshman of the Week added two digs and two blocks in the win. Junior Kele Brewer was the only other Lady’Back in double-digit kills with 12. Brewer hit .225 with three digs and one block assist for Arkansas. Junior Denitza Koleva had a near-career best 17 digs along with eight kills for Arkansas joining sophomore Ashley Miller and senior Iva Doceklaova in double-digit dig totals. Miller had 18 while Docekalova added 11 for Arkansas. Mississippi State hit just .148 for the match and had 10 service aces in the loss. The top serving team in the conference, Arkansas struggled in the first game adjusting to the tough serving of the Bulldogs. Arkansas rallied but the solid serving kept the Lady’Backs off balance all night. “We really had a balanced attack all night,” said Poole. “They are a tough team to play and one of the best serving teams in the country. Christina really stepped up in the fifth game and Ashley passed well at the end of the match. They both made a big difference.” Arkansas opened the match flat allowing State to stay close in game one. Tied at 15, three consecutive hitting errors by Arkansas gave the Bulldogs a lead they would not surrender. State seemed to maintain the momentum in the second game again taking a big lead up by five early in the frame. Down by four, Poole burned his final timeout with Arkansas trailing 20-16. Arkansas got the ball back with Miller serving and the offense came to life. Miller served for 12 consecutive points as the Lady’Backs scratched their way to a convincing 30-22 win. The Lady’Backs looked much better in the third game leading almost from the first serve. But the momentum swung the other direction in the fourth game when Arkansas again got down big early and couldn’t come back. As the fifth game started, fans could see the difference in the two teams from the first serve. The confidence of the fifth game was evident as Brewer pounded a kill to the court silencing the crowd and getting the Lady’Backs on the board first. A block from Brewer and senior Karla Crose followed by a net violation by State quickly gave Arkansas a 3-0 lead as Mississippi State called the first timeout. State came out of the break with a hitting error followed by a kill from Jessica Dorrell lifting Arkansas to a 5-0 lead. The Bulldogs finally scored on an Arkansas net call but Crose answered with a kill followed by a shot from Lawrence and the Lady’Backs reached the eight-point, half-way mark first leading 8-3 as the teams changed benches. A service error by Arkansas after the change cut the Lady’Backs’ lead to four, 8-4, but that was the last point the Bulldogs would score as Arkansas sailed to the win with a 7-0 run to close the match. The Lady Razorbacks return the court and SEC action Sunday at 1:30 p.m., with a match at Mississippi. The Lady’Backs travel to LSU Wednesday and conclude the regular season hosting Kentucky Nov. 13. For more information about Arkansas volleyball, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)