STARKVILLE, Miss. – Four Razorbacks tallied double-digit kills Friday evening but it wasn’t enough in a five-set loss to Mississippi State (23-25, 25-13, 26-24, 17-25, 18-16) at the Newell-Grissom Building in Starkville, Miss. In defeat, Jasmine Norton led all hitters with 15 kills and completed a double-double, her fourth of the season, with 15 digs. Arkansas drops to 7-7 overall with a 1-2 mark in conference play, while Mississippi State goes to 9-4 overall and 1-1 in the SEC.
In the decisive fifth set, the Razorbacks trailed by as many as five points early on but rallied to even the score at 12 after an attack error by MSU’s Ashley Newsome. The rest of the match was a back-and-forth affair. Arkansas saved the first set point with the help of a service error. Kendall Cleveland found the floor out of the back row to give her team the 16-15 lead and its first match point. However, the Bulldogs reeled off the next three points to come away with the victory.
The Razorbacks dug themselves out of an early hole in game one with Mississippi State winning the first four points of the match. Arkansas rallied, however, and grabbed its first lead, 14-13, after an attack error by Newsome. With the set tied at 14, the Razorbacks reeled off five points in a row to take the lead for good in the opening set. A kill by Cleveland brought the team to set point and Norton sealed the deal, 25-23, with a putaway out of the middle.
In the second set, Mississippi State used a big run of its own to tie the match at one game apiece. The home team turned a 7-0 run into a nine-point lead, 18-9. The Bulldogs pushed their lead to double digits on a kill by Caitlin Rance. On its third set point, Mississippi State secured the game with a kill by Kellye Jordan.
The third set featured several swings of momentum as both teams reeled off handfuls of points at a time. With the score tied, 15-15, MSU won four of the next five points and eventually took a 21-18 lead. However, Norton stepped to the line and served four consecutive points. Eventually, Mississippi State faced a set point but stayed alive and, eventually, took the set to go into the locker room with the 2-1 set lead.
The fourth set belonged to Arkansas as the team took advantage of the Bulldogs’ passing problems will numerous kills on overpassed balls. The Razorbacks tallied a .321 hitting percentage in the game to force game five.
Kelli Stipanovich finished the match with 13 kills, followed by Janeliss Torres-Lopez and Amanda Anderson with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Razorback libero Brooke Fournier had a team-high 20 digs. Rance and Newsome led Mississippi State with 14 and 12 kills, respectively.
Arkansas’ last four matches have gone the distance. With Friday’s result, the Razorbacks are now 3-4 in five-set matches. Arkansas will close out the conference road trip with a Sunday afternoon match in Tuscaloosa, Ala., against the Crimson Tide. First serve of the Western Division matchup is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (CT) at Foster Auditorium. All-time, Arkansas is 10-5 in road matches against ‘Bama. To follow the action, an audio broadcast, interactive blog and live stats will be available at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.