LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the second consecutive match, the University of Arkansas volleyball team rallied for a five-set victory, besting Chattanooga (25-21-, 15-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-11) at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center Friday morning in the opening match of the Jayhawk Classic. This marks the Razorbacks’ first five-match winning streak under head coach Robert Pulliza.
Jasmine Norton led the way for Arkansas (5-0) with 19 kills, her 21st match in a row with a double-digit kill total. Kendall Cleveland added 12 kills on a .355 hitting percentage. Freshman libero Brooke Fournier posted the first 20-dig effort of her young career with 22 digs against Chattanooga (0-4).
"It may take me awhile to recover from this one," Pulliza said. "This kind of win shows that we’re a tough team to beat and I’m proud of the way we fought when we got behind, but we have to stop putting ourselves in this type of situation."
As they did Tuesday against Oral Roberts, the Razorbacks came out strong to win the first set but faded to drop games two and three. Chattanooga posted a .750 hitting percentage in the second set to even the match at one set apiece, and followed with a .406 mark in game three to put Arkansas on the verge of its first loss of the season.
The match turned on the Razorbacks’ early play at the net in the fourth set. Through the first three games against the Mocs, Arkansas posted just one total block but in game four alone, the team had six blocks, including two solo stuffs by freshman Alex Fitzmorris. Cleveland had a set-high four kills and terminated at a .571 clip. Fournier frustrated the Chattanooga offense with nine digs in the set. A kill by Amanda Anderson gave the Razorbacks set point and Norton closed it out with a crosscourt thump.
With the score tied, 2-2, in the fifth and decisive set, the Razorback ran off three consecutive points to grab an early lead and force Chattanooga to call a timeout. Arkansas stretched its lead to as much as five points but when that advantage shrank to two, 11-9, Pulliza called a timeout. After the pause in action, back-to-back kills by Cassie Clarke and Norton pushed the lead back to four. On match point, Arkansas watched as an attack by UTC sailed long for the win.
Clarke finished the match with a season-high 45 assists. Anderson and Kelli Stipanovich chipped in eight and seven kills, respectively, to bolster the Razorbacks’ offensive attack. At the net, Fitzmorris and Clarke each posted five total blocks.
The Razorbacks return to the court Friday evening to close out day one of the Jayhawk Classic with a 7 p.m. matchup against host Kansas. Arkansas and Kansas have split the four previous meetings in the all-time series between the two programs. For an audio stream, interactive in-match blog and live stats of tonight’s action, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.