comscore script

Lady’Backs edge Pacific in five

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Backs edge Pacific in five

Jump to Pacific box score SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Youthful exuberance and a career-best night from Denitza Koleva were enough for the University of Arkansas to edge Pacific in a thrilling five-game match at Santa Clara, Calif., Friday. The Tigers (0-1) received votes in the
USA TODAY/American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll and returned three seniors and five upperclassmen to the starting lineup this season. The Lady’Backs (1-1), on the other hand, are fairly young with six newcomers and only three starters back in the same position they played last season. “I’m very proud of this team,” said head coach Chris Poole. “I felt like we did a good job in coming back in games two and three against Kansas (on Wednesday) but we took a whole other step forward tonight. Every player stepped up and contributed at different points in the match and that was a key with this young team. To beat a team with Pacific’s history is a great accomplishment and this was one of the best wins in our program’s history.” The series between the Lady’Backs and Tigers is three matches old with each contest going five games. The Tigers lead the series 2-1 and have been ranked or receiving votes in each meeting. Arkansas proved that “the third time’s the charm” with the 20-30, 30-28, 30-27, 27-30, 15-10 win.. Sophomore Denizta Koleva lead Arkansas with a career-best 23 kills and hit .419 in the match. Freshman Jessica Dorrell and sophomore Amy Allison also posted career-bests with 14 kills each and senior Jennifer Haaser equaled that with 14 kills of her own in the match. The match came down to a hard-fought game five in the exciting win. Arkansas carried some late game-four momentum into the start of game five and it served them well. The Lady’Backs opened a quick 5-1 lead and prompted the Tigers to call this first time out. The Arkansas lead dwindled to a point, 7-6 before Haaser got a kill making it 8-6. The team’s switched benches at the half-way mark and Arkansas continued to roll. With a 10-7 lead Pacific called its last timeout but the break didn’t rattle the Lady’Backs. Koleve put the team on her back with two kills along with contributions from Haaser and Allison to put the match away. “Everyone contributed to this win at different times,” said Poole. “To do that on the road and against a team of this caliber is encouraging.” Arkansas battled well in the opening minutes of the first game playing Pacific evenly until the 20-point mark. The Tigers held a five-point edge, 25-20, and ran off five straight for the 30-20 win over the Lady’Backs in the first frame. Arkansas hit .200 to Pacific’s .364. The Lady’Backs were paced by Koleva with five kills and a .556 hitting percentage but Koleva’s first touch of the match didn’t come until she scored for Arkansas at the 13-8 mark. The Lady’Backs serving became more aggressive in the second game and challenged the Tigers in later half of the game. Junior setter Iva Doceklaova dumped the ball in the front row for Arkansas’ first point but Pacific managed to control the tempo of the contest until Arkansas took the lead again at 23-22 forcing Pacific’s first timeout. The Tigers tied it after the break and took a 24-23 lead on an Arkansas hitting error forcing Poole to burn a timeout as well. Pacific committed a service error after the break, one of seven in the game for the Tigers, tying things at 24-all. A back-and-forth battle followed until Arkansas grabbed the lead for good, 28-27, on a cross court kill from Koleva. Allison, coming off a career night against Kansas, added her fifth kill of the evening making it 29-27 as Pacific burned its final timeout trying to ice the Lady’Backs. The stall almost worked as Pacific scored out of the break but Allison put the game away, 30-28, with a kill back across the court from the right side. Pacific led Arkansas in every statistical category after the second game, most notably out-hitting the Lady’Backs .317 to .185, but the match was knotted at one game apiece. Arkansas’ momentum carried over into a game three win. The Lady’Backs took the lead at 7-6 on a kill from Haaser and rolled out to the largest lead of the match up by as many as five points several times in the game. The Tigers scratched back into the game leading at 19 and again at 24 but well-timed timeouts by Poole steadied the team for the win. Arkansas out-hit Pacific for the first time, .280 to .244 with Koleva quietly leading the Lady’Backs with 14 kills and a .462 hitting percentage at that point in the match. Dorrell was also in double figures with 10 kills. Arkansas suffered a huge let down in the fourth game letting Pacific out to a nine-point, 14-5 lead quickly. The Lady’Backs got back into the game late and threatened in the final moments of the game, trailing 27-25, and forcing a Pacific timeout. The Tigers scored first but gave the Lady’Backs hope with a service error making it 28-26. A pair of well-placed balls from Pacific ended the fourth frame and forced a deciding game five. Arkansas continues its California trip facing host No. 22 Santa Clara Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Central. The Lady’Backs travel to Wichita State for the Green Mills Restaurant Classic Sept. 9-10, followed by the C&C Services Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., Sept. 17-18. For more information and tickets please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to www.ladybacks.com.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)