FAYETTEVILLE – Janeliss Torres-Lopez paced the Razorbacks with a career-high 22 kills as the University of Arkansas volleyball team took a four-set win (25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 25-17) against the South Carolina Gamecocks in Southeastern Conference action on Senior Day at Barnhill Arena
Arkansas (14-16, 8-11 SEC) jumped out to an early advantage, winning five of the first seven points of the match. A kill by Torres-Lopez gave the home team a 10-5 lead and forced a timeout out of South Carolina head coach Ben Somera. Later in the set, South Carolina (7-22, 4-15 SEC) pulled to within one on a kill by Christina Glover but the Razorbacks never gave up the lead. On the team’s second set point, Torres-Lopez found the floor to give Arkansas the set.
"Today we did some good things, especially in the fourth set," Arkansas head coach Robert Pulliza said. "I think that is an indication of the team that we have become and will continue to be. Anytime you can get a win in the SEC it is a good win.
"I am really proud of Mackenzie Rhea for what she has done for this program. I wish that we could keep her here but she has an opportunity to go to physical therapy school and we are very proud of her. We also want to thank Phoebe Bautista, who although she didn’t get to play this year has been a great influence on the program."
The Gamecocks shook off the setback and went out to a 4-1 lead in the second set. The visitors never trailed in the set and opened their largest lead of six, 20-14, on a kill by Hannah Lawing. Arkansas responded immediately by winning the next five points and trailed by just one after a Carolina attack error. With a pair of set points in hand, South Carolina tied the match at one with a kill by Juliette Thevenin.
The third set was decided in the late stages of the game. The Gamecocks had worked themselves into winning position with two set points. Arkansas erased the deficit to tie the score, 24-24, with back-to-back kills by Raymariely Santos and Kendall Cleveland. Torres-Lopez followed with Arkansas’ third-straight point, prompting the Gamecocks to call a timeout. Arkansas made short work of the set on the teams’ return to the court as an attack error by South Carolina ended the set. Arkansas’ four-point run to close it out was the only spurt of more than two points either way the entire set and gave the Razorbacks all the momentum heading into the fourth.
South Carolina did not appear to show the ill effects of a tough third set loss early as it matched Arkansas point-for-point to 3-3, but the Razorbacks would go on a 7-1 run which spanned a South Carolina timeout to open a sizeable 10-4 lead and never looked back. Arkansas spread the ball around as Jasmine Norton and Torres-Lopez each had four kills while Amanda Anderson posted three and Kelli Stipanovich a pair. Fittingly for Arkansas, Torres-Lopez closed out the match with the final two points to give the Razorbacks the win.
Behind Torres-Lopez 22 kills, Stipanovich was the only other Razorback to post double-digits in the category with 10. Santos led the team in assists with 45 and Brooke Fournier’s 15 digs was also a team high. South Carolina got big games from Thevenin (18 kills, 10 digs) and Hannah Lawing (12-13) as they each posted double-doubles in the loss.
The Razorbacks return to their home court Wednesday evening for a matchup with the 16th-ranked LSU Tigers. First serve of the Western Division contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. The match will mark the end of the 2010 season for Arkansas. For more information and game-day features, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.