FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team knocked off South Carolina in straight sets (25-16, 25-15, 25-22) Friday evening at Barnhill Arena. The Razorbacks were paced by a trio of double-digit kill efforts from Jasmine Norton, Kelli Stipanovich and Amanda Anderson. As a team, Arkansas (18-9, 10-6 SEC) tallied a .430 hitting percentage, a figure tied for the fifth best in program history.
The Razorbacks’ 10 conference wins is the most by an Arkansas team since the Southeastern Conference moved to double round-robin format in 2006.
"We had a really good night offensively," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "We hit .430 and that might be one of the best in school history for an SEC match. All of our attackers were over .300 and Raymariely did a really good job distributing the ball."
Arkansas’ hitting percentage Friday against the Gamecocks is the fourth-best effort by the team in an SEC match. Norton led the way with 14 kills while Stipanovich and Anderson posted 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Roslandy Acosta added eight kills to the offensive output. The Razorbacks committed just four attack errors in 107 attempts.
Defensively, the Razorbacks totaled 51 digs, four more than their opponents. Freshman libero Christa Alvarez led all players with a match-high 15 digs. She was followed by Raymariely Santos who had 14 digs of her own and added 34 assists to complete her ninth double-double performance of the season. Arkansas posted nine total team blocks and was led by six total blocks from Kasey Heckelman.
With her third kill of the match, Norton moved into ninth place on the program’s all-time kills list and now has 1,280 kills in her career. Stipanovich collected the 1,200th kill of her Razorback career with her first putaway of the night against South Carolina. Sitting at 12th place on Arkansas’ kills list, she now has 1,210 kills to her credit.
During a halftime ceremony, the Razorbacks recognized Melanie Davis (1994-96) and Krystal Osborne (1994-97) for their roles as trailblazers for Arkansas volleyball. Osborne, who was in attendance for the ceremony, still holds the program record with 2,185 kills during her career.
In the opening set, Arkansas won the first four points of the match to grab early control. Later, the team turned a two-point lead into a 15-7 advantage with the help of a six-point surge that was capped by a tandem block from Acosta and Anderson. The Razorbacks’ lead reached double digits, 21-11, on a setting error by South Carolina. On set point, Santos picked up a kill to secure the opener in favor of Arkansas, 25-16.
South Carolina (12-14, 3-13 SEC) won five of the first seven points in the second set but the Razorbacks used a 7-0 run to go ahead. The home team cushioned its lead and led, 20-13, after a hitting error from its opponent. Arkansas won the final three points of the game including a kill from Norton to secure the win the set, 25-15.
The two teams traded points to start game three but the Gamecocks won four of five points to take an 11-8 lead and force an Arkansas timeout. The Razorbacks recovered to even the score at 13-all. From that point, the score was tied eight more times in the match. With a 22-22 tally on the scoreboard, Arkansas got consecutive kills from Santos, Stipanovich and Norton, respectively, to close out the match.
"We played very well tonight but Florida is the No. 19 team in the country so we’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game," Pulliza said.
Arkansas returns to Barnhill Arena Sunday afternoon for a home matchup with No. 19 Florida. The weekend finale will be televised by Cox Sports Television and is scheduled for a 1:03 p.m. (CT) first serve. Bernie Guenther and Missy Whittemore will hand the commentary duties for Sunday’s match. For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Prior to Sunday’s match, the Razorbacks will recognize their seniors, Stipanovich and Adriana Vazquez. The Arkansas-Florida match will also be broadcast on KXUA 88.3 FM in Fayetteville. Students attending volleyball matches are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter Barnhill Arena.