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Razorbacks win SEC opener

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Razorbacks win SEC opener

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jasmine Norton pounded 17 kills leading the University of Arkansas volleyball team to a Southeastern Conference win over South Carolina in the league opener in Barnhill Arena Friday.

Arkansas (7-5, 1-0 SEC) defeated South Carolina (8-2, 0-1 SEC) 25-16, 25-21, 25-15. The Razorbacks host No. 5 Florida Sunday at 1 p.m.

"We went at it in practice and had a hard a week and it paid out tonight," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "The energy was great on the court and our crowd was fantastic."

The Razorbacks were cheered on by a season-best 982 in the stands.

The night was drama-filled for sure with Arkansas crushing a final kill off the hands of Norton. As the ball hit the floor, the lights blew out in Barnhill plunging the arena into darkness. Lit only by the scoring tables, the fans exploded as the Razorbacks celebrated on the floor.

Norton finished with a match best 17 kills and had five block assists for Arkansas. Freshman Amanda Anderson had 11 and Arkansas dug out 77 balls in the win led by Phoebe Bautista with 20. Freshman Katelyn McCarthy had a career-best 15 digs, sophomore Mackenzie Rhea had 12 and senior Lindsay Scanlan had 10 digs.

"We truly have to be a team," said Pulliza. "We’ve been stressing that all year and we’ve been doing a good job of that. I thought Lindsay had a great night leading the offense tonight."

The entire match was hard-hitting and filled with great defensive plays but Arkansas seemed to control the momentum from the first serve.

The Razorbacks opened hitting a blistering .256 in the first set with 18 kills behind a four-kill performance from Anderson. The Razorbacks were out-blocked but doubled up South Carolina on digs, 27-12, and held the Gamecocks to a .068 hitting percentage to win the first frame.

The second set was a mirror image of the first with more booming kills and great defense from both teams. Arkansas counted 26 digs and two blocks while Carolina had 21 digs and two blocks but it would be the Razorbacks on top at the break. Carolina kept the contest closer in the second but Arkansas’ high-powered offense got five kills from sophomore Kelli Stipanovich and five from Norton as they out-hit the Gamecocks, .140-.077.

Arkansas never surrendered the momentum in the third frame. They controlled the tempo and the scoring from the first serve and led by as many as eight before the 10-point win.

The Razorbacks host No. 5 Florida Sunday in a 1 p.m. match. For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)