OXFORD, Miss. – Jasmine Norton had 20 kills and Kelli Stipanovich posted her second consecutive double-double performance but the University of Arkansas volleyball team dropped a four-set decision (25-13, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22) to Ole Miss Sunday afternoon at the Gillom Sports Center. After losing games one and two, the Razorbacks won the third set and couldn’t maintain its advantage in the fourth, and final, game.
The 20-kill performance for Norton was her fourth of the season. Stipanovich finished the match with 10 kills and 10 digs. Amanda Anderson added 11 kills and a .409 hitting percentage for the Razorbacks. Defensively, Brooke Fournier paced the team with 17 digs and Janeliss Torres-Lopez had four total blocks.
"Ole Miss jumped on us early in the match," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "But we did some good things and settled down in the third set. That’s the kind of volleyball we are capable of playing all the time but we didn’t maintain that level to close out the fourth set."
Ole Miss (14-5, 8-2 SEC) jumped out to an early advantage, winning eight of the first nine points. The home team stretched its lead to double-digits, 17-7, after a Razorback hitting miscue. Back-to-back kills by Stipanovich pulled Arkansas (9-12, 3-7 SEC) to within eight points but it was the closest the team would get in game one. Raymariely Santos saved the first set point with a well-placed tip but Whitney Cravens sealed the game for Ole Miss with a kill.
The beginning of set two went back and forth before the Rebels gained the advantage. With the score tied early on, Ole Miss reeled off seven of eight points to take a 13-7 lead. The Razorbacks’ deficit reached seven before the team put together a string of points to get back in the set. An ace by Fournier and a kill from Hayley Koop shortened the Rebels’ lead to three, 16-13.
The push by Arkansas continued and the Ole Miss lead was just one after a service ace by Stipanovich. However, the Rebels were able to keep their opponent at arm’s length and arrived at set point on a kill by Allegra Wells. On set point, Stipanovich hit a ball that was originally called good but the head official overruled the call to give Ole Miss the game.
Like a majority of game two, the first half of the third set was a tight affair with neither team going ahead by more than two points. With the score tied, 17-17, the Razorbacks won the next four points to grab the momentum. Ole Miss responded with three in a row to pull to within one but Norton tallied three consecutive kills to bring Arkansas to set point. Like she did to start the set, Anderson found the floor on the slide attack to seal the game.
With the momentum on their side, the Razorbacks raced out to a 9-2 lead behind the serves of Fournier and Koop. Ole Miss began to chisel away and used a five-point push to get back into the set. Regina Thomas posted a kill to pull the Rebels even. Arkansas responded to take an 18-15 lead on an attack error by Cravens. However, Cravens came back with a kill later to give her team the lead for good. The Razorbacks saved two match points-kills by Koop and Anderson-but Thomas put the ball away for the win on Ole Miss’ third opportunity.
The Razorbacks return to the road next weekend for a pair of Southeastern Conference matchups at Auburn and Georgia. The two matches will mark the team’s second go-round through the conference schedule. Arkansas opened the 2010 SEC season with a five-set victory over Georgia in Fayetteville. For more information, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.