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Stipanovich has career day in Arkansas loss

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Stipanovich has career day in Arkansas loss

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas freshman Kelli Stipanovich posted a career-best 21 kills but it wasn’t enough as the Razorbacks fell in five sets to South Carolina in Southeastern Conference volleyball action Sunday. Arkansas (4-9, 1-2 SEC) fell to the Gamecocks (11-2, 3-1 SEC) 22-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-23, 11-15 in Barnhill Arena. “It was a typical SEC match,” said Arkansas head coach Robert Pulliza. “It was two very good teams going at it. We gave it all we had but came up a little short today.” The teams traded sets forcing the match to the all-important fifth frame to decide the outcome. Despite the back-and-forth battle in the opening sets, South Carolina would take the lead early in the final stanza. Trailing 7-3, the Razorbacks battled closing within two, 8-6, when the teams traded benches but the early Gamecock lead was too much to overcome in the end. Stipanovich’s 21 kills was a match high and she tied her career-best with 11 digs for Arkansas. The Razorbacks had four players in double-figures in the loss as sophomore Heather Royal added 13 kills and 14 digs, senior Christina Lawrence tallied 12 kills and junior Kristin Seaton added 10 kills for Arkansas. “We had too many highs and lows,” said Pulliza. “We have to stay more consistent. There is no doubt we’re headed in the right direction but we’re not quite there yet. We’ve thrown a lot at this team in a very short time and we’re still trying to put everything together.” Arkansas seemed to have control of the first set opening as much as four points but Carolina just kept chipping away and the Razorbacks couldn’t finish. The Gamecocks tied the set at 21 after an Arkansas hitting error and Pulliza took his final timeout. The Razorbacks struggled down the stretch as South Carolina escaped with the win. The Gamecocks out-hit Arkansas .286-.219. The Razorbacks got three kills each from Royal, Stipanovich and Seaton in the set. The second set saw the Razorbacks rejuvenated from the first serve and they quickly worked out to a six-point, 10-4 lead prompting a Gamecock timeout. But the break didn’t slow the Arkansas attack as the Razorbacks were able to keep up the pressure for the entire set. Carolina didn’t hand the set to Arkansas, battling to the end. The Gamecocks managed to tie the set at 22 after a nifty kill that rolled off the net and was in bounds. Lawrence stepped up with a defense-splitting kill for Arkansas followed by a Carolina hitting error as Arkansas edged closer to the win. The Razorbacks put the set away with a deep kill from Stipanovich to even the match. Arkansas’ numbers were not as good in set two as in the first frame but they out-hit South Carolina .173-.103 as Lawrence, Royal and junior Kristin Seaton paced the team in kills. It was South Carolina’s turn to come out on fire in set three. The Gamecocks opened a four-point lead and stretched the advantage to six, 17-11, at the mid-point. Pulliza called the team to the bench to halt the rally and got a couple quick points out of the break as the Razorback block came to life. The Razorbacks went on a 6-2 run closing within a pair, 19-17, as South Carolina now burned its final timeout. Arkansas had three blocks in the run as senior Yun Tang’s defense heated up. Arkansas finally tied the set at 20 on a block from Seaton and senior setter Caira Dortch but Carolina answered with two quick points again pulling ahead of the Razorbacks. Pulliza burned his final timeout and got a South Carolina service error out of the break but the Gamecocks answered with a block giving them the 23-21 advantage. Arkansas committed back-to-back hitting errors as the third set slipped away. The fourth set was a nail-biter as both teams could have won. The frame had 12 ties and five lead changes before Arkansas was able to pull out the win. The set was tied late, first at 11 and again at 23 but a South Carolina hitting error gave Arkansas the lead for good. The Razorbacks closed it out with a booming kill down the sideline from Royal. The Razorbacks continue SEC play at Georgia and LSU next weekend. For more information about Arkansas volleyball, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)