FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team continued its spring exhibition season this past weekend at the Rice Invitational in Houston, Texas. The Razorbacks’ schedule included matches against Rice, Baylor and Texas A&M. All three of the weekend’s opponents played in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
"Although, we were not able to close out the matches, I think we did some very high-level things Saturday," head coach Robert Pulliza. "We lacked consistency all day long and it came back to haunt us in every match."
Against Rice, Jasmine Norton had nine kills at a .269 hitting clip and 13 digs for the Razorbacks. Kendall Cleveland also posted nine kills and hit .333 against the host Owls. Playing in a best-of-three format, Rice won in straight sets, 25-21, 25-20.
The Razorbacks pushed Baylor to three sets. Arkansas rallied past the Bears for a 33-31 win in the opening set, but Baylor held on for the three-set victory. Norton and Cleveland continued to lead the Hogs with 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Norton hit .300 during the match. Defensively, Mackenzie Rhea totaled 15 digs as the team’s libero and Cassie Clarke had 12.
In the Texas A&M match, the Razorbacks lost a 25-23, 27-25 decision. Cleveland logged a .318 hitting percentage to go along with nine kills. Norton also had nine kills against the Aggies. Rhea led the team with 11 digs.
"The development of Alex Fitzmorris continues to impress me," Pulliza said. "This weekend, we had her play some middle and she did some great things. I also feel Allison Johnson is making good strides in the middle position. Jasmine Norton and Kendall Cleveland were tremendous throughout the day and I expect them to continue their overall progress as the spring goes on. Mackenzie Rhea was also very good in the libero jersey and we are excited to see her progress."
Arkansas will play an alumni match Saturday, April 3 at Barnhill Arena with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. Admission to the match is free.