KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team dropped a straight-set decision to No. 14 Tennessee (25-21, 25-17, 25-21) Friday evening at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville. The Razorbacks were paced, offensively, by the trio of Kasey Heckelman, Jasmine Norton and Kelli Stipanovich with seven kills each. Stipanovich tied for the match lead with 11 digs and Heckelman had a team-high four total blocks.
With her seventh, and final, kill against the Lady Vols, Norton jumped into seventh place on Arkansas’ career kills list. Norton moved past former Razorback standout Jessica Dorrell (2004-07) and now sits behind Yarleen Santiago (1997-99) who occupies the sixth spot on the program’s kill list. Norton now has 1,311 kills in her career.
After an even start to the match, Tennessee (25-3, 17-1 SEC) turned a tie score into a 12-9 advantage after a tandem block from Leslie Cikra and DeeDee Harrison. The Razorbacks pulled to within two points on a couple of occasions but the home team stretched its lead to six, 20-14, after an attack error from Norton. Facing a handful of set points, Arkansas (18-11, 10-8 SEC) reeled off three points in a row to stay alive.
During the push, the Razorbacks got a pair of kills from Heckelman on the slide attack. Heckelman teamed with Stipanovich to put up a block save a third set point. However, on the next play, Harrison found the floor to give Tennessee the early match lead, 25-21. Amanda Anderson had three of her six kills in the first set.
In the second set, the Lady Vols won the first three points but Arkansas rallied to take a 5-4 lead after a kill from Norton. As it did in the opener, Tennessee turned a tie into a three-point lead and led 9-6 after a triple block. The Razorback pulled to within a point after a setting error by Tennessee but the home team held on to the lead for the remainder of the game. The Lady Vols ended the set on a 4-0 run and went into the locker room with a two-set match lead.
The two teams exchanged points to begin the third set but Tennessee won three of out of four points to take a 13-10 lead and force an Arkansas timeout. Later in the set, the Razorbacks strung together three points in a row-a kill by Norton, service ace by Heckelman and solo block by Norton-to pull even at 15-all. With the score tied at 19-19, Tennessee won six of the final eight points of the set to close out the match in three.
The Razorbacks return to the court for their weekend finale Sunday afternoon at No. 16 Kentucky. First serve of the Southeastern Conference matchup is scheduled for a 12:30 p.m. (CT) start at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.