NORMAN, Okla.– The University of Arkansas volleyball team had three players with double-digit kills but dropped a four-set decision (16-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-20) to No. 18 Oklahoma Tuesday evening at McCasland Fieldhouse in Norman, Okla. Jasmine Norton led the way with a match-high 17 kills and Kelli Stipanovich posted a double-double effort with 11 kills and 10 digs. Roslandy Acosta added 10 kills and freshman libero Christa Alvarez paced the defense with 13 digs.
In the opening set, the teams traded points to a 7-7 tie but the Razorbacks scored the next four points to take control of play. Later in the set, Arkansas (5-3) used a five-point spurt to extend its lead to eight, 19-11. During that stretch of points, the Razorbacks benefitted from three OU attack errors. The lead reached double figures, 22-12, after another hitting miscue by the Sooners. Acosta closed out the opener, 25-16, on the team’s fourth set point with a shot down the line.
Arkansas’ offense posted a .357 hitting percentage in set one and six different players had at least two kills. Conversely, the Razorback held Oklahoma (7-1) to a -0.36 hitting percentage in the first set.
The Sooners responded quickly to start the second game. An early 7-1 run put Oklahoma in the driver’s seat through the middle phases of the set. The home team padded its lead and went ahead by 10 on three separate occasions, the last time coming at 21-11. With its back against the wall, Arkansas won the next seven points to pull to within three. Once again, the Razorbacks took advantage of OU errors during the push. However, the Sooners won the final four points to win the set, 25-18.
"I felt like we just stopped working," Norton said. "We tried to get back into the sets but were too far behind and it was too late. We just need to keep working at being more consistent throughout the entire match."
Game three was a near replica of the second. Arkansas gave the Sooners four of their first five points on errors, forcing head coach Robert Pulliza into an early timeout. Oklahoma’s lead ballooned to nine, 21-12, before the Razorbacks began its comeback.
With Amanda Anderson at the service line, Arkansas reeled off eight points in a row to pull to within one. Norton tallied five kills during the rally and defensive substitute Marci King got in on back-to-back blocks to get the team back into the set. The Sooner regained their form and on its second set point, OU won the game, 25-23, with a kill by Suzy Boulavsky.
The fourth set was the most evenly played on the scoreboard with neither team building a lead of more than three points until late. The Razorbacks led, 10-7, after an ace by Raymariely Santos, but from that point, the set was tied seven times until the score was tied at 17-all. Oklahoma won eight of the final 11 points of the match to win the set, 25-20.
The Razorbacks travel to the Empire State this weekend for the West Point Challenge. Including Arkansas, the field at the non-conference event features Dartmouth, NJIT and host Army. Arkansas is scheduled to play two matches Friday before closing out the event Sunday.
For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.