LEXINGTON, Ky. – Jasmine Norton tallied a match-high 14 kills but the University of Arkansas volleyball team dropped a 3-0 decision (25-16, 25-19, 25-21) to Kentucky Friday night at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. The loss snaps the Razorbacks’ four-match winning streak. Defensively, libero Brooke Fournier had a team-high 10 digs and Norton added nine digs. At the net, Janeliss Torres-Lopez notched a match-high eight total blocks as the Razorbacks had 11.0 blocks as a team.
"We had our chances to get into this match, especially in the third set, but we didn’t execute offensively," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "Now, we have to put this match behind us because we have a very good Tennessee team waiting for us Sunday in Knoxville."
With her second kill of the match, Norton tied Anna Velikanova (2000-02) on the program’s all-time kills list. She later reached the 900-kill mark for her career with a putaway in the second set. With 14 kills against the Wildcats, Norton now sits alone in 14th place on Arkansas’ career list. She is the 14th player in program history to total at least 900 kills and currently sits at 910 for her career.
Kentucky (15-12, 9-8 SEC) won the first three points of the match behind a strong blocking performance. From the outset, the Razorbacks were caught playing catch up for the remainder of the game. Behind a pair of five-point runs, the Wildcats led by as much nine in the set. Becky Pavan put down the final two kills to seal the set win for Kentucky, 25-16. Arkansas (13-14, 7-9 SEC) never got on track offensively in the game and was held to a negative hitting percentage.
In the second set, the Razorbacks used a strong start to win four of the first five points of the game. However, with the score tied at six, the home team used a 6-1 scoring run to gain control of play. Arkansas pulled to within three points on a couple of occasions, the final time coming on a slide-attack kill for Charmaine Whitmore. Kentucky responded with three points in a row extend its lead back to six. Norton saved one UK set point with a kill but on the next point, Whitney Billings found the floor to close out the game, 25-19, in favor of the Wildcats.
Game three, the tightest of the match, began with the teams going back and forth and neither able to grab the momentum. The score was tied seven times before either reached 10 points. A modest 5-1 stretch for the Wildcats put them ahead for good. Arkansas didn’t go without a fight, and after trailing by five through the middle stages of the set, the Razorbacks strung together four points in a row to pull even, 19-19. The final two points of that push came via a Stipanovich kill and solo block.
With the game up for grabs, UK reeled off three points in a row to regain the advantage. Kelli Stipanovich posted another solo block on the Wildcats’ first match point but Kentucky clinched the straight-set win with a kill by Lauren Rapp. Along with Stipanovich’s effort, Norton posted seven kills in the third game.
The Razorbacks next travel to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on the 21st-ranked Lady Volunteers in a Sunday matchup. First serve of the SEC contest is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Thompson-Boling Arena. In addition to a radio broadcast on KXUA 88.3 FM and game day features at ArkansasRazorbacks.com, the Arkansas-Tennessee match will also be televised by CSS and CST (Ch. 119 in Northwest Arkansas).