FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team posted an impressive .429 hitting percentage against Grambling State en route to a straight-sets victory (25-11, 25-15, 25-12) Saturday afternoon at Barnhill Arena. Jasmine Norton and Kelli Stipanovich led the team with 10 kills each. The Razorbacks’ hitting percentage is the sixth-best figure in program history. With her third putaway of the match, Norton notched her 500th career kill to become the 24th Razorback to eclipse the milestone.
Arkansas (2-0) won the first four points of the match to take early control of the action. Back-to-back kills by Amanda Anderson and Kendall Cleveland gave the Razorbacks a 10-3 lead and forced Grambling to take its first timeout. The home team, eventually, built a double-digit lead in the opener after a solo block by Cassie Clarke. Behind the serve of Stipanovich, Arkansas won the last nine points of the set to close it out, 25-11.
Anderson, Cleveland and Norton paced with Razorback offense in the first set with three kills each. As a team, Arkansas blistered the ball in the opening game with a .667 hitting percentage and committed just one attack error. The strong offense translated to a stronger defense as the Razorbacks held Grambling to a -.190 hitting percentage in the first set.
Stipanovich shouldered the offensive load with five kills in the second set. The Razorbacks jumped out to an early 8-1 lead with Norton at the service line. During the scoring run, Norton had three service aces; she finished with a match-high five aces. Grambling got as close as six points but Arkansas continued to push its lead until it reached double digits. A kill by freshman Charmaine Whitmore brought the Razorbacks to set point and on a GSU service error, the Hogs sealed the set, 25-15.
The third set took a familiar path as the previous two. Arkansas led, 8-1, after an ace from Norton. Freshman Raymariely Santos played the entire third game as the team’s setter and tallied 11 assists. Norton posted five kills in the set. With 10 kills, the Razorback sophomore extended her streak of double-digit kill totals to 18 matches. On match point, Allison Johnson and Hayley Koop combined for a block to win the set, 25-12, and close out the match.
Freshman libero Brooke Fournier finished the day with a match-high 13 digs. In her two sets of play, Clarke tallied 18 assists to go along with a pair of aces. The Razorbacks served 12 aces against Grambling State, the eighth highest total in program history. Five different players registered a service winner in the match.
In Saturday evening’s finale of the Arkansas Invitational, the Razorbacks will face Samford (2-0). Both teams are undefeated and the match will decide the tournament champion; Samford swept UMKC in the day’s first match at Barnhill Arena. This will mark the first-ever meeting between Arkansas and Samford. For more information and continued updates throughout the day, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.