MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team dropped a four-set decision (20-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-15) to Middle Tennessee Friday evening at Alumni Memorial Gym in Murfreesboro, Tenn. In the loss, Jasmine Norton posted a match-high 14 kills, while Amanda Anderson and Kelli Stipanovich each added eight kills for the Razorbacks.
Defensively, libero Brooke Fournier paced the team with eight digs and Kendall Cleveland finished the match with six digs. At the net, Arkansas (6-3) had 9.0 total team blocks, compared to 8.5 for the Blue Raiders. Charmaine Whitmore led the blocking effort with six total blocks and Stipanovich was second with three swats. At the service line, however, the Razorbacks hurt themselves with 14 errors.
Trailing by a point in the opener, the Razorbacks reeled off three points in a row to take a 9-7 lead and force Middle Tennessee to take its first timeout of the match. The home team controlled the middle stages of the game and forced a timeout out of head coach Robert Pulliza with MTSU ahead, 18-15. The Razorbacks bounded out of the timeout with a 9-0 run to arrive at set point.
The Blue Raiders won the next two points, butNorton found the floor with an attack out of the back row to give Arkansas the set, 25-20. The Razorbacks posted a .391 hitting percentage in game one and held their opponents to a .147 mark. Anderson, Norton, Stipanovich and Hayley Koop all tallied three kills in the first set.
In game two, Middle Tennessee improved its offensive output to control the flow of action. Both teams terminated at a high level—.313 for the Hogs and .346 for MTSU-but the Blue Raiders took advantage at the service line, notching two aces and capitalizing on five serving miscues by Arkansas. Middle Tennessee built its largest lead of the game, an eight-point advantage, on set point. The Razorbacks saved the first two but Izabela Kozon evened the match with a kill for MTSU.
Arkansas trailed by as many as five points early in the third set but rallied to pull to within one, 13-12, on a kill by Norton and behind the jump serve of Cleveland. Middle Tennessee responded with three quick points, including back-to-back kills by Stacy Oladinni, and the Razorbacks used their second timeout of the set. The Blue Raiders pushed its lead to as much as seven and, on set point, MTSU got a kill from Kozon to close out game three.
After the Hogs won the first point of the fourth set, Middle Tennessee rattled off 10 consecutive points. Arkansas closed its deficit to six after a MTSU attack error to force the home team to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Blue Raiders won four consecutive points to regain momentum. The match came to an end in favor of MTSU on a kill by Ashley Adams who, along with Kozon, led the team with 12 kills.
The Razorbacks close out the Middle Tennessee Invitational with two matches Saturday against Albany and Alabama-Birmingham with first serves scheduled for 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively. Follow the action of the Arkansas volleyball team with the audio stream, an interactive blog and live stats at ArkansasRazorbacks.com, the online home of Razorback athletics.