MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Jasmine Norton had a match-high 19 kills Saturday against Albany but the University of Arkansas lost in straight sets to the Great Danes (25-20, 25-21, 25-17) at the Middle Tennessee Invitational. The setback is Arkansas’ first three-set loss of the season.
Cassie Clarke tallied 37 assists and a team-best nine digs while Janeliss Torres-Lopez and Hayley Koop added six and five kills, respectively; in reserve duty, Torres-Lopez posted a .625 hitting percentage. Norton’s kill total is one off her season high of 20, set Aug. 31 at Oral Roberts. Torres-Lopez and Kelli Stipanovich each notched three total blocks to lead the team.
After a back-and-forth start to the first set, the teams found themselves knotted up at 16-16, but Albany put together the first big scoring run of the game, a four-point swing, to grab control. The Razorbacks called a timeout to break the momentum and a kill by Koop closed the deficit to three but Arkansas got no closer. Norton found the floor to save one set point but net a serve on the next play to give Albany the game-one win, 25-20.
Both teams put together strong offensive efforts in the opener. The Razorbacks hit .367 in the first set but Albany countered with a .500 hitting percentage and just one hitting error. Norton totaled eight kills in the game one to lead all hitters and Koop added three.
An early deficit put the Razorbacks behind in game two. After splitting the first two points, Albany put together a four-point run to go ahead, 5-1. The Great Danes’ lead reached as high as nine points but Arkansas strung together a rally and after a kill by Norton, Albany’s lead was down to three, 23-20. The last three points of game started, and ended, with service errors, including two by the Razorbacks and Albany went into the locker room with a two-set lead.
The Great Danes’ carried the momentum into the third game and built a 12-6 lead. As was the case in the first two sets, Arkansas rallied back and pulled to within one after a kill by Norton. During that stretch, Norton had a hand in each of the five points with three kills and two block assists. However, Albany won five of the next six points to regain control and snuff out the rally attempt. After pushing its advantage to as much as eight points, Albany took advantage of a Razorback service error to complete the sweep.
The Razorbacks return to the court at Memorial Gym tonight to close out the weekend with a matchup against Alabama-Birmingham. First serve of the tournament finale is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Arkansas holds a 2-0 advantage over UAB in the all-time series; the two teams last met in 2001. An audio stream, interactive blog and live stats will be available at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.