WEST POINT, N.Y. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team knocked off Army in straight sets (26-24, 25-15, 25-23) Friday evening to close competition on day one of the West Point Challenge at the Gillis Field House in New York. Jasmine Norton and Kelli Stipanovich each tallied a match-high 11 kills and Raymariely Santos dished out 34 assists to pace the Razorback offense.
"Tonight’s win was a collective team effort," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "It was really a combined effort so I’m proud of our team. We really had to battle back against a good Army team which showed a lot of discipline and fought really hard in the third set but we were able to overcome it for the win."
Janeliss Torres-Lopez hit .438 with nine kills in the middle and Roslandy Acosta added six kills. Defensively, Norton had five total blocks-three solo blocks-and libero Christa Alvarez and Brooke Fournier had 12 and 10 digs, respectively.
Through the early stages of the opening set, the teams traded points but the home team maintained a slight advantage on the scoreboard. Army (5-3) built a four-point lead, 17-13, after a kill by Megan Wilton. The Razorbacks responded by winning six of the next eight points and Stipanovich and Torres-Lopez combined for a block to even the score. After a slow start to the match, Norton had the team’s final three kills. A tandem block by Torres-Lopez and Acosta closed out the set, 26-24, in Arkansas’ favor.
The Razorbacks jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the second set. After dropping the first point of the game, Arkansas (7-3) never trailed. With Amanda Anderson at the service line, Arkansas turned a one-point lead into a seven-point advantage. During the run of points, Norton and Torres-Lopez both tallied two kills. Arkansas started to pull away and extended its lead to nine, 24-15, on a third solo block of the set for Norton. On the team’s first set point, Torres-Lopez came out of the middle with a kill to give Arkansas the 2-0 match lead.
Down to its final set, Army charged out to a 5-1 lead in the third game. The Black Knights maintained their advantage but Arkansas began chipping away until the score was tied 13-all after a kill by Stipanovich. Santos gave her team its first lead of the set, 15-14, with a kill. Norton found the floor from the outside to give the Razorbacks a three-point lead and force an Army timeout. Arkansas had three match points after another kill by Stipanovich. The Black Knights saved the first two but Stipanovich secured the win with the final kill of the match.
There is no tournament play Saturday but the Razorbacks return to action the next day to face NJIT. First serve of Arkansas’ weekend finale is scheduled for 9 a.m. (CT) Sunday at Gillis Field House. On their off day at the West Point Challenge, the Razorbacks will attend the Army-San Diego State football game.
"Part of being in college is about learning some life lessons," Pulliza said. "Being here is a good opportunity for us to experience and see the people who protect us every day and fight for our freedom and the things we have. We’re really looking forward to being part of Saturday’s game."
The win was Arkansas’ second of the day after its four-set win over Dartmouth in the first match Friday morning. For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.