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Koleva and Lawrence led Arkansas to big SEC Western Division win

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Koleva and Lawrence led Arkansas to big SEC Western Division win

Jump to Alabama box FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Denitza Koleva ripped 23 kills while redshirt freshman Christina Lawrence tied her career-best with 17 leading the University of Arkansas to a five-game Southeastern Conference win and vaulting the Lady’Backs to the top of the division race. Arkansas improved to 15-8 overall but more importantly to 8-3 in the SEC with the 30-23, 26-30, 30-28, 19-30, 15-4 win over Alabama who fell to 20-4 and 8-3 in the league. The Crimson Tide are tied with Arkansas with that 8-3 league record but the Lady’Backs have beaten Bama twice this season. “As a coach you never want to go five (games),” said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. “You always want to win in three but if and when we get to game five, we know we can win. I’m so pleased with the team’s fitness and conditioning. We were prepared and confident in tonight’s match. I’m really proud of Denny. She’s still not 100 percent and she had a great match.” This match mirrored the first meeting between the Crimson Tide and Lady’Backs in that both went five games and both went Arkansas’ way. But unlike the first meeting, Arkansas’ block was average (7.5 to 19.0) and Lawrence emerged as a vocal on-the-court leader asserting herself on both sides of the ball. “Alabama has a great team,” said Poole. “They only have four losses all season and two of those are to Arkansas.” Poole threw in different starting lineups in each game trying to match up with the Alabama offense. Despite the significance of the first four games, the drama was all in the fifth frame, a game in which the Lady’Backs dominated play. Senior Karla Crose got the first kill in the game getting Arkansas on the board but a service error evened things between the teams. Junior Kele Brewer answered with a kill followed by kills from Koleva and Lawrence as Arkansas opened a 4-1 lead and the Crimson Tide took their first timeout. Lawrence recorded back-to-back kills after the break and Alabama burned their second and final timeout with Arkansas up 6-1. The break did little to slow the Arkansas attack, however with Crose making it 7-1 before the Tide’s Crystal Hudson notched Alabama’s first kill of the final game. “Christina was huge in game five,” said Poole. “She played like a fifth-year senior instead of a redshirt freshman. She continues to learn every day on the court and I’m really proud of her.” But Arkansas’ lead was too much for Alabama to come back from as the Lady’Backs sailed to the 15-4 win in the final frame. The Lady’Backs hit .647 in game five with 11 kills and no hitting errors in 17 attempts while holding Alabama to three kills and three errors. Koleva led the team with 23 kills, hit .304 and had 14 digs while Lawrenced tied her career-best with 17 kills, hit .452 and had two block assists. Crose was also in double-figures with 11 kills and five digs while Brewer added 10 kills and 11 digs for Arkansas. Sophomore Ashley Miller paced the defensive effort with 19 digs. Arkansas returns to SEC action hosting Auburn Sunday at 1:30 p.m., in Barnhill. The Lady’Backs break from conference action hosting Oral Roberts Tuesday and hit the road for the Magnolia State Friday for an SEC match at Mississippi State. For more information about Arkansas volleyball, log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)