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Koleva leads Arkansas to upset win over No. 25 Tennessee.

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Koleva leads Arkansas to upset win over No. 25 Tennessee.

Jump to Tennesseebox score FAYETTEVILLE – Equipment manager Kevin Pitts ordered new warm-up shirts, the team recorded a new warm-up CD and University of Arkansas head coach Chris Poole instilled a new confidence leading the Lady Razorbacks to a four-game upset win over No. 25 Tennessee in Barnhill Arena Friday. Senior Denitza Koleva had a season-best 23 kills leading Arkansas (11-8, 4-7) to the 30-23, 29-31, 30-28, 30-28 win over the Lady Vols (15-6, 6-5 SEC) avenging an earlier loss in Knoxville. “The talent’s been here all year,” said Poole of the win. “I felt like we have had opportunities all year and tonight everyone worked together and stayed focused for the win. I’m very proud of the total team effort tonight.” Koleva, a Middleton, Wis., native, continues to play well and recorded her 15th double-double of the year getting 15 digs to go with her 23 kills. “I felt like it finally all came together tonight,” Koleva said. “I knew I had the whole team behind me so that if I made a mistake, someone was there to pick me up. I knew we all had each other’s backs tonight.” Junior Jessica Dorrell also turned the corner helping Arkansas stop it’s five-match losing skid. Dorrell hit .346 with 12 kills and 11 digs while recording three blocks in the win. Senior Amy Allison had 12 kills and hit .308 while sophomore Christina Lawrence added 10 kills and four blocks. “We battled hard the whole match,” said Poole. “It’s great to win a couple games at the end. We’ve lost some close ones. We’re looking at this as the half-way point of the season. We really want to define our year by what we do in these next 10 matches. It’s a whole new season.” Arkansas came out of the gates firing on all cylinders grabbing the lead early in game one. The score was tied four times in the first frame but there were only two lead changes with Arkansas sprinting to the win down the stretch. The Lady’Backs maintained a strangle-hold on the momentum in the second game opening an early five-point, 10-5, lead. Arkansas tried to put it on cruise control but Tennessee made a run late and closed the gap tying the game at 28. The Lady Vols eeked out the win with an Arkansas ball handling error and a sonic kill from their leader junior Yuliya Stoyanova. Stoyanova finished with a team-best 17 kills and 25 digs for Tennessee. The teams went into the locker room tied at one game a piece. “We knew it was 1-1 when we went in and we really didn’t talk about the second game,” said Poole. “We told the team that it was a three-game match and we wanted to go 2-1. That’s what we did.” Tennessee got on the board first in the third frame and jumped out to a lead stretching it to five, 15-10, at the mid-point of the game. Arkansas clawed back into the game as Koleva carried the team through the dry offensive spell until Lawrence was able to tie the game at 25 with a slicing kill that cut cross court in front of the Lady Vol bench for a kill. Tennessee called a timeout but Lawrence and sophomore Destiny Clark combined for a block followed by a UT hitting error on a free ball giving Arkansas a tow-point lead it would not surrender. The final game had much the same feel as Arkansas and the Lady Vols battled closely but the Lady Razorbacks seemed to have the momentum. The fourth game was tied late at 26 when senior Kele Brewer responded with a kill down the line that fell just inside the baseline for the lead. Brewer finished with nine kills and 11 digs with a solid match playing all the way around. Arkansas extended the lead with a block from Koleva and Allison but a Lady’Back service error gave Tennessee hope. The Lady Vols committed a hitting error, one of just six in the final game, but answered with a kill from Sarah Blum, as Arkansas clung to match point, 29-28. Fittingly, Koleva blasted the final ball off the hands of a Tennessee defending give Arkansas the four-game win. The Lady Razorbacks continue SEC home action hosting Kentucky (12-7, 5-6 SEC) Sunday in a 1:30 p.m. match in Barnhill. For more information about Arkansas volleyball, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)