LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the sixth time this season, Kelli Stipanovich led the University of Arkansas volleyball team in kills, but it wasn’t enough Sunday as No. 17 Kentucky came away with a 25-18, 25-23, 25-21 victory at Memorial Coliseum. The sophomore outside hitter totaled 12 kills on 15 attempts with no errors for an .800 hitting percentage, tied for the third-best, single-match performance in program history.The two teams battled through a see-saw affair through the early portion of the first set with neither building more than a two-point lead. A kill by Kentucky’s Becky Pavan gave her team an 11-9 lead, but a putdown by Kristin Seaton and an ace by Janeliss Torres-Lopez evened the match. The 17th-ranked Wildcats responded by winning nine of the next 11 points to take a 20-13 advantage, aided by seven miscues from Arkansas, including four hitting errors. A pair of kills by Jasmine Norton closed the deficit to five, but the Razorbacks would get no closer. Kills by Sarah Mendoza and Pavan secured the first set for the home team, 25-18.Arkansas (7-8, 1-3) jumped out to an early lead in the second set. With the score tied, 2-2, the Razorbacks won five of the next six points to go ahead by four, 7-3. Kentucky came back with a five-point run of its own to take the 8-7 lead and force head coach Robert Pulliza to call his first timeout of the set. Out of the timeout, the Razorbacks won the next three points, capped by a Torres-Lopez kill. Arkansas led, 10-8.The team traded points until the Wildcats reeled of three consecutive kills, and they would eventually go ahead by five, 20-15. Trailing by four, 22-18, Arkansas began a rally with a putdown by Torres-Lopez. Kentucky was called for four hits and the Razorback deficit was cut down to one. Once again, the teams traded sideouts and Arkansas staved off the first set point, but on the second, Lauren Rapp put the ball down to give her team the set, 25-23.After intermission, the teams went through an early feeling-out process, but Kentucky grabbed the momentum and the lead, 8-4, to force a Razorback timeout. Once again the timeout was beneficial for Arkansas as they pulled even, 10-10, on the 10th kill of the match for Stipanovich.As they’d done in the two previous sets, Kentucky took control of play and began to lengthen its lead, going ahead 20-14. And just as they had done in the previous sets, the Razorbacks fought back, closing to within three points and forcing Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner to call timeout with his team holding on to a 22-19 lead. After one last push by the Razorbacks, Kentucky recorded the final kill for claim the match in three sets.The Razorbacks continue their road tests next weekend with matches at Georgia and Auburn. Arkansas lost both matches to the Bulldogs last season, but has won three straight against the Tigers. For continued coverage of Razorback volleyball, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
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