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FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team had five players in double figures but dropped a heart-breaker in five games to Southeastern Conference rival Auburn in Barnhill Arena Sunday.
Arkansas (8-10, 2-6 SEC) fell to the Tigers (10-9, 2-6 SEC) 20-21, 29-31, 30-19, 27-30, 8-15 in the Lady’Backs third consecutive five-game match.
“It’s a very disappointing loss,” said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. “We survived on Friday but needed more offensive output today. We relied a lot on the block Friday and it was again important today but we needed to put the ball down better today. We’re still making way too many unforced errors.”
Arkansas was paced by sophomore Catherine Fowler with 18 kills. Senior Jessica Dorrell added 17 kills with 11 each from freshmen Heather Royal and Sarah Freudenrich. Sophomore Kristin Seaton added 10 kills for Arkansas.
Arkansas’ block was big with the Lady’Backs recording 19.0 team stops. Junior Yun Tang posted career numbers with 11 total blocks. Freudenrich added seven and Fowler had six.
Arkansas continues its SEC home stand hosting Florida Friday at 7:00 p.m. and South Carolina Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
The first game was a no-frills, methodical attack by Arkansas in which the Lady’Backs took the lead at 13-12 and never looked back. Auburn was able to stay close until the 20-point mark at which time the Lady’Backs pulled away for good.
The Lady’Backs hit well with a .444 average that featured 17 kills and only one hitting error. Freudenrich paced the team with five kills and hit .833 with no hitting errors while Dorrell added four kills and hit .333.
Arkansas out-blocked Auburn 4-0 while holding the Tigers to a .235 hitting percentage.
Auburn played Arkansas much closer in the second game but the Lady’Backs were again able to pull away this time at the 10-point mark. Leading by as many as four points, Arkansas’ offense faltered opening the door for the Tigers.
Auburn tied Arkansas at 20-all on a Lady’Back hitting error, eventually taking a two-point 22-20 lead forcing Poole to burn his final timeout.
Although the timeout slowed Auburn a bit, Arkansas could not overcome the Tiger advantage. The Lady’Backs made the game interesting, tying the contest late but Arkansas was never able to re-take the lead.
Arkansas hit just .250 with 20 kills in the frame with Auburn out-hitting the Lady’Backs with a .273 mark.
Auburn controlled the momentum to start the third frame running the score to 10-6 as the Lady’Backs took their first timeout. Unforced errors became a problem for the Lady’Backs early but the mistake bug bit Auburn as well allowing Arkansas to tie the game at 15.
Auburn took its first timeout and Arkansas got a big block from Tang and Dorrell energizing the crowd and the Lady’Backs. The teams traded points through 18 until Arkansas grabbed the lead on an Auburn ball handling error.
That mistake sparked an 11-1 run by the Lady’Backs as Arkansas cruised to the third frame win.
Arkansas relied heavily on the block getting five and hit .269 with a 4-0-4 performance from Folwer.
The fourth game went Auburn’s way as the Tigers out-hit Arkansas .278-.128 playing nearly error-free volleyball. Auburn led much of the game as the Lady’Backs were often close but never able to tie or take the lead.
The same could be said of the fifth game. Arkansas and Auburn were tied at seven but a Tiger block gave Auburn the last lead it would need as they outscored the Lady’Backs 6-1 in the final frame win.