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Norton enjoys college debut

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Norton enjoys college debut

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FT. WORTH, TEXAS — Freshman Jasmine Norton welcomed herself to college volleyball leading the University of Arkansas with 23 kills and 17 digs against TCU in the TCU Invitational Friday. Norton paced Arkansas who dropped the season opener, 24-26, 25-17, 24-26, 25-23, 12-15 to the Horned Frogs. “I’m really excited about the energy and preparation of that this group brought to the court in the first match of the year against a very veteran team,” said Arkansas head coach Robert Pulliza. “We came out and executed. We did some great things. “Jasmine was phenomenal today,” he continued. “We knew all along she was an exciting player to watch and she got herself ready to go and did some great things. Phoebe has been working really hard in preseason and her preparation showed tonight with 29 digs. It was a match high for both teams and we’re excited for her and what she’s doing.” Norton led all hitters in kill totals and hit .321 in the first match of her collegiate career. Sophomore Kelli Stipanovich had 14 kills and five block assists. Freshman Amanda Anderson added 13 kills and hit .276 while senior Kristin Seaton tallied 10 kills and four block assists for Arkansas. Sophomore libero Phoebe Bautista posted a career-best 29 digs leading the defense for the entire match. Arkansas finished the match hitting .222 with 66 kills, 56 assists, 79 digs and 10 team blocks. The Razorbacks out-hit TCU, .222-.178, in a match that featured 38 tie scores and 14 lead changes in the five sets. The match was close in each set but it came down to the fifth frame to decide the winner. TCU leapt out to the quick lead but Arkansas rallied to tie it at five. Arkansas managed a run and took a 12-10 lead but TCU stormed back to tie it at 12. Pulliza burned a timeout but the Horned Frogs held on for the win. The opening frame was filled with hard hits and fast plays as both teams were happy to face someone other than themselves for the first time this year. TCU grabbed the first lead but the Razorbacks caught up at the five-point mark and went on a six-point run taking a 13-7 lead. TCU then put together a run of its own tying the set at 15 and both teams seemed to settle into a rhythm as they traded points with neither squad opening more than a two-point advantage. TCU had set point leading 24-22, but a home team hitting error and kill from Norton tied the set at 24-all. TCU got a kill from Kristen Hester and a Razorback hitting error closed the set with the Horned Frog win, 26-24. The second set mirrored the first with long rallies and hard-hitting kills. It was Arkansas who opened the lead early and TCU caught back up at eight. A sea-saw battle followed with very few mistakes by either team in the well-played set. Arkansas squeaked out a two-point, 19-17, lead that prompted a TCU timeout — the first of the set by either team. The Razorbacks broke the huddle on fire closing the set with a 6-0 run. TCU took its second timeout but couldn’t stop the inspired play that included two service aces and a kill from Norton. Norton led all hitters at that point with 12 kills and 11 digs. Arkansas hit .281 in the second frame holding TCU to a .059 mark. The third set would come down to who had the ball last. The frame was tied 15 times before TCU pulled out the last-minute win. The Razorbacks held the 22-20 lead when TCU took its first timeout. They scored twice out of the break to tie it at 22-all as Pulliza burned his first of the game. Another TCU point prompted Pulliza to burn his final timeout and Arkansas answered with a kill from Anderson. A sideout battle ensued with TCU getting a kill from Kristen Hester taking a lead it would not surrender in the 26-24 win. Arkansas was a bit flat to start the fourth set and dug a hole early trailing 9-6. Pulliza didn’t wait long and took a timeout to rally the young team in a must-win set to stay alive in the match. At that point in the contest, Arkansas was out-hitting TCU by nearly 100 points and the teams were even defensively. TCU didn’t let up after the break and the Razorbacks struggled to scratch out points as the Horned Frogs’ lead continued to grow. Down 9-15 Arkansas dug deep and eked out point after point with Pulliza prowling the sidelines seeming to play each point with the six on the floor. A kill from Norton followed by a tip from Anderson and a slicing shot from Stipanovich down the line pulled Arkansas within one, 14-15, as TCU called for a timeout to settle down its defense. Three quick points again put Arkansas down by four as Pulliza called a timeout to regroup. The Razorbacks just wouldn’t go away however, chipping away at the score until tying it at 21. It was Arkansas’ turn to surge ahead with a tip and block going up 23-21. A TCU timeout couldn’t stop the Razorbacks who got an ace from Bentonville, Ark., native Katelyn McCarthy as the scoring continued. Arkansas was up 24-23 and TCU was whistled for a net call giving the Razorbacks the win and forcing a fifth set. “We’re excited about tomorrow and we have 31 opportunities this season and we have to prepare ourselves to be successful in each opportunities,” said Pulliza. “We have an opportunity tomorrow and have to be ready to take it.” Arkansas continues tournament play facing Loyola Marymount at 11 a.m., and Grambling State at 5 p.m. The LMU Lions defeated Grambling State in three in the opening match of the tournament. For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)