FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Behind a season-best hitting percentage, the University of Arkansas volleyball team opened its SEC schedule Friday night with a straight-set win over Tennessee at Barnhill Arena. The Razorbacks registered a .339 hitting percentage against the Lady Vols for the program’s first win over UT in Fayetteville since 2006. With Friday’s win, Arkansas (7-7, 1-0) improves to 6-1 in SEC openers under head coach Robert Pulliza.
For the sixth time this season, Meredith Hays had at least 20 kills with a 24-kill performance against Tennessee (7-8). She was joined in double figures by Samantha Skinner who put down a season-high 10 kills. In the middle, Channel Clark-Bibbs and Ana Sofia Jusino combined for 12 kills and a .733 attack efficiency. Bailee Hankenson dished out 38 assists to direct the Razorbacks to the season-best figure.
Defensively, Monica Bollinger led all players with 13 digs while Hankenson and Hays tallied eight and seven digs, respectively. Clark-Bibbs tied her season high with five digs. At the service line, Arkansas had a season-best six aces against the Lady Vols, including two each from Clark-Bibbs and Hankenson.
Having won the opening set, the Razorbacks used a 7-0 surge in the second set to take control of the scoreboard. The score was tied at 11-all before Arkansas’ push. The home team jumped out to a 10-4 start in the third to force Tennessee into using a timeout. The Lady Vols got back to within two points with Arkansas leading 20-18 but the Razorbacks won six of the last seven points of the match to secure the sweep.
Hays became just the fourth player in program history with at least 20 kills in an SEC opener, joining the short list that includes Denise Baez, Sara Kincaid and Jasmine Norton. Overall, it was the sixth time for a Razorback to reach 20 kills in the first SEC match of the year and first since Norton had 22 kills against No. 13 Florida in the 2012 conference opener.
The Razorbacks return to the court Sunday to close out the weekend against Mississippi State. First serve of the SEC matchup is set for 1:30 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. The match will be streamed live on SEC Network+ which is available through SECNetwork.com, ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app.
Season tickets to join the crowd at Barnhill Arena are on sale and can be purchased online or by calling 800-982-HOGS (4647). Beginning at $40, all season-ticket packages include a free team knit hat. Single-match tickets are $5 for adults while UA students and fans 17 years and younger get in free. Arkansas’ next home match will double as its SEC opener on Sept. 26 against Tennessee.
Arkansas 3, Tennessee 0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-19)
Attendance: 817 | Time: 1:23
• Stat Leaders vs. Tennessee
o Kills: 24 – Meredith Hays
– Fourth Razorback with 20+ kills in SEC opener (Denise Baez, Sara Kincaid, Jasmine Norton)
o Digs: 13 – Monica Bollinger
o Blocks: 2 – Chanell Clark-Bibbs, Bailee Hankenson
• Season-high .339 hitting percentage [previous: .323 vs. Stony Brook, Sept. 13]
• Season-high six service aces [previous: five, three previous occasions]
• Improve to 6-1 in SEC openers under head coach Robert Pulliza
o 14-7 overall in SEC home openers
• All-time series vs. Tennessee now tied 17-17
o First win over Tennessee in Fayetteville since 2006
• Milestone Watch:
o Meredith Hays moved into 22nd place in program history with 686 career kills
– 14 shy of becoming 22nd player in program history with 700 career kills
• Up next: SEC opener Sept. 28 vs. Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m. [SEC Network+]
For more information on Arkansas volleyball, follow @RazorbackVB on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.