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Lady’Backs win at Mississippi State

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Backs win at Mississippi State

Jump to Mississippi State box STARKVILLE, Miss. – The University of Arkansas held off an impressive Mississippi State attack hanging on for a thrilling five-game win in Starkville, Miss., Sunday. The 23-30, 27-30, 30-26, 30-28, 15-9 victory improves the Lady’Backs to 14-13 overall and 10-6 in the SEC keeping Arkansas’ hopes of at least a share of the 2004 Southeastern Conference Western Division title alive. Arkansas and Alabama were even heading into Sunday’s action and Arkansas would share the title with the Crimson Tide if they defeat Kentucky. Match results were not available. “That’s a thousand-pound gorilla off our backs,” said a relieved Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. “We seemed to lose our confidence after the Tennessee match and we’ve struggled to regain that. We are a better team then we’ve been playing lately and I just hope the momentum we found in games three, four and five carry over into the SEC Tournament and give us the confidence we need down the stretch.” Arkansas tallied 19 team blocks and out-hit Mississippi State .202 to .180 after a slow start to the match. The Lady’Backs were paced with 18 kills, a .270 hitting percentage and 10 blocks from lone senior Jennifer Haaser. Freshman Jessica Dorrell added 12 kills, hit .318 and had seven blocks and sophomore Denitza Koleva added 11 kills and eight digs. Sophomore Kele Brewer also recorded double-digit kills with 10 while junior Karla Crose had eight blocks for the Lady’Backs. Arkansas seemed to come out of the gates well to start the first game but the momentum quickly shifted to the Mississippi State side of the net. The contest was tied at five-all when State used an Arkansas hitting error to take a lead it would not surrender. The Bulldogs were up by as many as five at several points in the opener but Arkansas managed to chip its way back into the game trailing by just one, 22-21, after a kill to the middle of the court from Brewer. But State pulled away down the stretch out-scoring Arkansas 7-2 to win game one. The Lady’Backs hit just .094 to MSU’s .323 coming 16 unforced errors while State limited its miscues in the first frame. State carried the momentum over into the second game opening a 7-4 lead behind tough serving from Bulldog freshman Jamie Joyner who had back-to-back aces. Arkansas tried to mount a comeback with a kill from Haaser but State answered the call with a block assist, kill from Orsolya Kriegel and more good serving from Megan Lukasek forcing Poole to call his team’s first timeout trailing 12-8. Arkansas rallied after the break with a 5-2 run after a big block from Dorrell and Crose coming within a point, 13-14, and prompting Mississippi State to call its first timeout of the match. The teams exchanged points and hitting errors until Arkansas was finally able to tie the game at 18 on a tough kill in the middle from Haaser but the Lady’Back advantage was short-lived with State scoring two quick points. The sea-saw battle continued until Arkansas again tied the game on an ace serve of its own from Haaser but Lady’Back errors handed the lead back to the Bulldogs and Arkansas could never catch up. The Lady’Backs out-hit MSU in the second game .171 to .154 and out-blocked the Bulldogs 4-2 but six serve errors and seven hitting errors allowed State to maintain its lead. A different, revitalized Arkansas team emerged from the lockerroom after game two. The energized Lady’Backs controlled the tempo from the first serve never letting State in the match. Arkansas upped its hitting percentage over the .200 mark for the first time in the match hitting .219 and needing just 12 kills in the win. Arkansas managed five blocks as well but again struggled with its serve committing six service errors in the third frame. Haaser paced the team at that point with 12 kills in the match including a 4-1-7 performance in game three. She hit .429 in the frame. Arkansas tried to maintain its focus in game four leading early but State edged its way back into the game behind some tough serving that took the Lady’Backs out of their offense. An ace by Lukasek gave State an 11-8 lead and Poole burned his team’s first timeout of the game. The Lady’Backs went on to trail by as many as four but never gave up tying the game at 18 on a State hitting error. The Lady’Backs edge ahead on a block from Haaser and sophomore Amy Allison and then began to open a lead of their own. It was Arkansas’ turn to take a five point lead, 28-22, but State still had some fight left with a mini-run that sparked Poole into burning his final timeout to settle the team. The break worked as the Lady’Backs hung on for the 30-28 win forcing a fifth game. Brewer made sure Arkansas charged out of the gate on fire to start the final frame with a booming kill through the middle of the State defense that rattled the home team. A block from Crose and Dorrell followed and Arkansas chipped its way out to a 7-4 lead as MSU took the first timeout of the frame. The team’s changed benches at the half-way mark with Arkansas up 8-4 and a kill from Haaser saw the Lady’Backs led continue to grow. At 10-5 MSU stopped play for the final time as Arkansas went on to win. The Lady Razorbacks return home hosting Southwest Missouri State Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., in the team’s final match (a non-conference tilt) prior to the SEC Tournament. For more information about Arkansas volleyball log on to www.ladybacks.com.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)