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FAYETTEVILLE –The University of Arkansas volleyball team suffered a four-game Southeastern Conference loss to Mississippi State Sunday in Barnhill Arena.
The 21-30, 30-23, 35-37, 27-30 loss drops Arkansas to 10-14 overall and 4-10 in the SEC while Mississippi State improved to 10-13 overall and 5-9 in the league.
"Well, again, it was very disappointing," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "We had several chances and just couldn’t finish the games. It seems as though we have two or three players step up in each game and two or three who don’t. We’re just not very consistent right now and that is costing us games."
Arkansas hit .257 as a team behind a career-best 30 kills from senior Jessica Dorrell. The Aledo, Texas, native hit .328 with 13 digs and three blocks in the loss. Freshman Heather Royal added 17 kills and junior Christina Lawrence had 13 kills, hit .591 and had six block assists.
The Lady Razorbacks out-blocked State, 11-6 but State won the offensive battle hitting .295 to Arkansas’ .257. The Bulldogs had four players with double-figure kill totals led by 17 from Jamie Joyner.
Poole made changes to the starting lineup, then made several substitutions throughout the first game trying to find a spark but Arkansas couldn’t seem to find any life in the frame.
The Lady’Backs gave State a 15-point, 22-7, lead before finally finding some offensive success with an 8-2 run prompting the visitor to burn a timeout.
But the early deficit was too much to overcome as Mississippi State rolled to the 30-21 win. Arkansas’ mini run spurred the team to a .220 hitting percentage but MSU hit .359. The Lady’Backs were led by Dorrell with six kills and Royal with four. Arkansas had the only block in the frame, a solo from freshman Sarah Freudenrich.
The momentum Arkansas gained late in game one carried over to the second stanza with the Lady’Backs opening five-point leads at two different times early in the game. Mississippi State was able to close the gap on several occasions but Arkansas would not surrender the lead winning by seven.
The second game was a much more energized event with Dorrell leading all hitters with eight kills and a .500 hitting percentage. As a team, the Lady’Backs had one of their best performances hitting .417 with 19 team kills. The Lady’Backs got four kill each from Lawrence and Royal.
The Jekyll and Hyde performance continued as Arkansas was up and down in the third game. The teams exchanged points but neither was able to grab control of the game or maintain the momentum.
State was first to call a timeout trailing, 7-10, but they scratched back into the game to tie it at 13. The Bulldogs’ strong serving and offensive-minded setter kept Arkansas on its heels and, although the Lady’Backs gave up the lead, they stayed close through the teens and low 20s.
Arkansas forced State to call its final timeout with the Lady’Backs leading 24-22 after a solid block from Lawrence and Freudenrich that seemed to deflate the opponent’s offense. The battle raged on with State tying the game at 28 as Poole burned both timeouts in an attempt to rally the Lady’Backs.
Dorrell emerged from the final timeout with a blistering kill inside the 10 foot line of the opponent that brought the crowd of 660 to its feet where they remained until State’s 37-35 win.
Dorrell tallied nine kills and again hit .500 while Lawrence added six and hit .750. Royal had five kills but Arkansas couldn’t overcome a .320 hitting performance by State.
The fourth game stayed true to the tempo of the match with both teams content to trade points throughout much of the early stages. The Bulldogs took the lead for the final time at 24-23 and Arkansas couldn’t mount a comeback.
The Lady Razorbacks continue SEC action with the first of two consecutive road weekends. Arkansas travels to South Carolina Friday, No. 2, followed by a rematch with No. 10 Florida in Gainesville Sunday, Nov. 4. Both matches air live on KXUA, 88.3 FM and on the internet at LADYBACKS.COM.