TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Jasmine Norton posted her third consecutive double-double performance to lead the University of Arkansas volleyball team in a four-set win over Alabama (25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20) Sunday afternoon. Norton finished the match with 15 kills and 14 digs while Kelli Stipanovich had 10 kills against the Crimson Tide. Amanda Anderson and Janeliss Torres-Lopez both added seven kills in the win.
The Razorbacks tallied a. 289 hitting percentage in the match; in the three sets it won, Arkansas hit over .300. Defensively, the Razorbacks out-blocked their opponents, 10.5-3.0, led by six total swats by Torres-Lopez. Behind the block, Hayley Koop had a career-best nine digs. Stipanovich, Brooke Fournier and Mackenzie Rhea all had seven digs.
"We felt like we missed an opportunity Friday (to win a match)," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "Our players got themselves ready and came hungry to play well today. Our talent is there and our physicality is there. We just have to keep working on our maturity and team camaraderie. We need to be a unit consistent and ,today, they did a good job of committing to each other so I’ve very proud of them."
Behind by one early in the first set, Arkansas used a four-point run to grab control of the action, 7-4, and would not trail the remainder of the set. The Razorbacks pushed its lead to as high as nine points, 21-12, after a kill by Kendall Cleveland. A dump kill by Cassie Clarke gave Arkansas a handful of set points. The Crimson Tide saved the first three but Norton ended the set with a crosscourt kill.
In game two, the Razorbacks jumped out to an 11-8 lead behind the big serve of Cleveland, forcing an Alabama timeout. Out of the timeout, the Crimson Tide rattled off nine of the next 11 points to take the lead. The home team eventually built a 23-18 advantage before the Razorbacks surged to cut into their deficit. Again with Cleveland at the service line, Arkansas trimmed the Crimson Tide lead to two. Kayla Fitterer, however, responded for Alabama with consecutive kills to end the game.
The Crimson Tide rode the momentum out of the locker room to jump out to a 5-1 advantage in the third set. Trailing by three, the Razorbacks used a run of their own, a six-point spurt, to take a 12-9 lead. A kill by Torres-Lopez pushed the Arkansas advantage to five and forced Alabama into its second timeout of the game. The team’s reached eight and on the third set point, Norton found the floor to give the Razorbacks the 2-1 set lead.
One set away from the win, Arkansas’ offense responded with its best performance of the match with a .423 hitting percentage in game four. Norton and Stipanovich each tallied three kills while Clarke, Anderson and Koop each posted two putaways. The Razorbacks used an 8-1 run to gain control and go ahead, 19-13. After the Crimson Tide saved the first match point, Stipanovich put away the ball to give Arkansas the four-set victory.
The Razorbacks continue SEC play next weekend with a pair of road matches at South Carolina and No. 3 Florida. For continued updates and more information, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.