WEST POINT, N.Y. – Kelli Stipanovich reached 1,000 career kills Friday morning as the University of Arkansas volleyball team beat Dartmouth in four sets (25-9, 25-15, 22-25, 27-25) in the opening match of the West Point Challenge. Stipanovich, Jasmine Norton and Raymariely Santos each posted double-double performances and libero Christa Alvarez tallied a season-high 20 digs.
With her 13th kill of the match, a tip shot out of the back row in the fourth set, Stipanovich became the 15th player in program history to reach the career milestone. She is the second Razorback to reach 1,000 career kills this season, joining Norton who eclipsed the mark last weekend at the Deacon Invitational. It marks the fourth time Arkansas teammates have reached 1,000 career kills in the same season.
"I knew I was close to getting it but I didn’t know I was that close," Stipanovich said. "That number gives me a lot of confidence knowing that I’m making steps in the right direction. As a team, we have a lot to work on but I’m excited to get to 1,000. With Jasmine getting there last week, it’s a really exciting time for us."
Stipanovich finished the match with 15 kills and a career-best 16 digs for her fourth double-double of the season. Norton had a match-high 17 kills and added 10 digs for her first double-double effort of the year. In the fourth set, Norton had 11 kills and no attack errors.
At the setter position, Santos dished out 45 assists and had a season-high 15 digs for her first double-double performance of the season. She guided the Razorback offense to a .293 hitting percentage. Janeliss Torres-Lopez added 10 kills.
The Razorbacks won the first 11 points of the match on their way to their most lopsided set win since the 2009 season. Arkansas held Dartmouth to a negative hitting figure through the first two sets of the match and eased to a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third set, Dartmouth went ahead early and led by four but the middle stages of the set went back and forth with the teams trading points. Arkansas pulled even at 19-19 after back-to-back tandem blocks. With the score tied at 22, the Big Green rattled off the final three points of the set-two by way of Arkansas errors-to force game four.
"Bottom line is we have to toughen up," Stipanovich said. "We had some All-American numbers out there but as a team, we have to know how good we can be and then play like it. We can’t settle. We have to commit to winning."
After losing the first point of the fourth set, Arkansas went ahead and held the lead for the remainder of the match. The Razorbacks arrived at match point, 24-21, after a kill by Stipanovich but Dartmouth stayed alive with three straight kills by Madeline Baird to tie the score. On its fifth match point, however, Arkansas secured the win with a kill by Norton. She had the team’s final three points.
Arkansas returns to the court Friday evening for its second match of the day. The Razorbacks will play host Army at the Gillis Field House with first serve scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT). For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.