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Lawrence leads Arkansas to win

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lawrence leads Arkansas to win

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STARKVILLE, Miss. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team picked up a hard-fought and much-needed Southeastern Conference road win Friday downing Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. Senior Christina Lawrence strapped the team to her back for the 25-18, 25-20, 22-25, 23-25, 15-9 victory as the Razorbacks (7-19, 4-12 SEC) completed the sweep over the Bulldogs (6-21, 1-15 SEC). Lawrence posted a career-best 29 kills, hit .444 and had two assists, four digs and seven blocks for the Razorbacks. She was one of four players in double figures for the night, joined by sophomore Heather Royal with 13, junior Kristin Season with 12 and freshman Kelli Stipanovich with 10 for Arkansas. Arkansas hit a season-best .331 as a team, tying the season-high with 71 kills. The Razorbacks tallied a season-best 69 assists and tied the season-best for service aces with nine and blocks with 12.0 in the win. “Christina has been doing great things all season long,” said Arkansas head coach Robert Pulliza. “But I would say this is her best overall outing of the year. She showed great discipline on offense and on defense throughout the match. She scored 32 and a half points – that’s just a great performance. “I was pleased with the entire team’s effort,” Pulliza continued. “Everyone contributed in some manner tonight and it was a good win.” Arkansas dominated the first two sets winning soundly and controlling the tempo and momentum of the frames. The Razorbacks out-hit State .429-.229 in the first set and .367-.206 in the second frame. The Bulldogs, however, were not content to go quietly into the night. Mississippi State rallied to start the third set and opened a four-point, 7-3, lead that Arkansas struggled to overcome. The Razorbacks chipped away at the deficit and tied the set at 20 after a Bulldog hitting error. The frame was tied again at 21 but back to-back kills from junior Ioana Demian swung the momentum to the home side of the net. Arkansas committed a pair of hitting errors handing MSU the third-set win. The Bulldogs were able to carry that energy into the fourth set where they again opened a quick, 7-4, lead and Pulliza burned a timeout. The break did not halt the State scoring and Arkansas quickly trailed 10-5 as Pulliza called his second and final timeout. With no way to stop the action, Pulliza put the game in the hands of the players. Arkansas chipped away at the lead until they trailed 14-10 with senior Caira Dortch back at the serving line. The Springfield, Mo., native served for five consecutive points putting Arkansas back on even ground with Mississippi State. The teams leveled out with neither really able to take control of the scoring. The Razorbacks traded points with State until the Bulldogs tied the frame at 23 on an Arkansas service error. An ace and block put the win in Mississippi State’s column. “Caira really came in and helped turn the match around with both her serving and setting,” said Pulliza. “She served really well and set really well and was a difference-maker tonight.” Knotted at two sets apiece, the match headed for the always thrilling fifth and final frame. It would be the Razorbacks who rose to the challenge out-hitting Mississippi State .409-.190 for the win. Arkansas opened the frame with a 3-0 run forcing a quick Bulldog timeout. The Razorback lead was two, 8-6, when the teams traded benches and grew to three, 10-7, as MSU called its final timeout. The final break did little to stop the Arkansas advance as the Razorbacks rolled to the six-point win in the last set. SEC play continues for Arkansas at Alabama Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the final road match of the 2008 season. Catch all the action live in Northwest Arkansas on KXUA, 88.3 FM, or on-line at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)