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Balanced effort lifts Razorbacks

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Balanced effort lifts Razorbacks

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BLACKSBURG, Va. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team won its third consecutive match with a dominating three-set victory over Norfolk State at the Virginia Tech Invitational in Blacksburg, Va., Friday.

Arkansas (3-2) defeated the Spartans (2-3) 25-8, 25-11, 25-17, led by sophomore Kelli Stipanovich’s 11 kills. Freshman Jasmine Norton added seven while senior Kristin Seaton had five in the win.

"We got another good "W"," Arkansas head coach Robert Pulliza said. "We came out doing some really good things. We came out in that first set and sided-out for 100 percent and hit .400 and you cannot get much better than those numbers. Again we came out and were organized and stayed in our system and played hard."

The Razorbacks out-hit NSU .320 to a negative .105 for the match finishing with six blocks, 31 assists and 31 digs. Nearly every Arkansas player hit better than .400 while NSU managed just two players with a positive hitting percentage.

"Composed" is the best word to describe the Razorbacks in the first set. Their play wasn’t flashy or hurried but balanced and composed as they opened with an 8-0 run behind the serving of Seaton. NSU dug its own hole early with unforced errors and Arkansas made the Spartans pay with a convincing win.

The set win was the most lopsided victory in the Pulliza era and one of the most dominate performances in recent history. Arkansas hit .400 with 10 kills, 10 digs and one block holding NSU to a negative .241 hitting percentage as the Spartans tallied five kills and 12 hitting errors.

Norton and Stipanovich had four kills each leading Arkansas in a set that took a mere 15 minutes from start to finish.

NSU had a bit more life to start the second set and limited their unforced errors keeping the set close – for about five points. Arkansas kicked it in gear opening a big margin and cruising to the win. The Razorbacks doubled-up NSU, 12-6, and then 18-9 as an out-matched Spartan team went through the motions on its side of the net.

The Razorbacks upped their hitting percentage in the second set to .423 with a nearly perfect 12-kill, one-error performance well outpacing NSU who hit negative .125. Norton led all hitters with seven kills at that point. Every Razorback hitter was hitting .333 or better with Norton’s .545 effort a match high.

Pulliza shuffled the lineup to start the third set with Allison Johnson and Kendall Cleveland starting the set. Norfolk State returned to the court late and was penalized a point to start the frame but the technical did little to inspire the Spartans or effect the Razorbacks.

Arkansas and NSU exchanged points until a kill from Stipanovich gave the Razorbacks a 4-3 advantage that they would not surrender. The Razorbacks’ attack was steady, methodical and never hurried in the balanced win.

Arkansas continues tournament play Saturday facing Virginia Tech and East Carolina. For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.

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Sports Category : Volleyball (W)