FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Playing in front of the seventh-largest home crowd in program history, the University of Arkansas volleyball team opened its 2015 campaign with a straight-set victory over McNeese State Friday evening at Barnhill Arena. Five Razorbacks registered at least five kills, led by a match-high 12 kills from junior Pilar Victoria. Lifted by more than 600 UA students, Friday’s match was played in front of 1,342 fans.
“What an unbelievable crowd,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “It was a great first-match environment. It was also a good match because of all the dynamics we went through but were able to find success. I’m pleased with today and we certainly have to get better but I’m excited about where we are going.”
Trailing by one at the first media timeout, Arkansas (1-0) responded to win nine of the next 10 points to take a 23-16 lead after a kill off the hand of Liz Fortado. The visitors scored the next four points to pull to within three but an attack error and Chanell Clark-Bibbs kill clinched the opening set, 25-20. Collectively, Arkansas posted a .481 hitting percentage in the first set of the season.
Spurred on by two early kills and a block by Breana Jones, the Razorbacks jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second set. The advantage reached double digits after Barbara Dapic found the floor for a 16-6 lead. Consecutive kills by Dapic and Victoria put the team at set point. An attack error clinched the set for Arkansas and the team into the locker room with a 2-0 match lead.
“Because this was the first game at home, I think we started with a little bit of anxiety,” Victoria said. “But we listened to one another and regrouped when we were down and came out with the win. I loved playing my first game at Barnhill Arena. The atmosphere is great and I can’t wait to play tomorrow against Army and Kansas.”
Arkansas had to rally in the third set to keep McNeese off the board. Trailing by as many as six points, the Razorbacks put together a run capped by a four-point push to take its first lead of the set at 17-16 with a tandem block from Clark-Bibbs and Dapic. On the team’s second match point, Jones clinched the match with her eighth kill of the night.
Arkansas 3, McNeese State 0 (25-20, 25-11, 25-21)
Attendance: 1,342 (No. 7 in program history) | Time: 1:28
Barnhill Arena | Fayetteville, Ark.
• Stat Leaders vs. McNeese State
o Kills: 12 – Pilar Victoria
o Digs: 16 – Kori Ortiz
o Blocks: 5 – Chanell Clark-Bibbs
• No. 7 home crowd in program history; fourth top-10 attendance figure from a season opener
• Program has won four-consecutive season openers and is now 15-7 overall in season openers
Beginning at $40 and a free team knit hat with each purchase, season tickets are currently on sale online or through the Razorback Ticket Center by calling 800-982-4647. Individual match tickets are $5 at the Barnhill Arena ticket window prior to each match while UA students (with valid ID) and fans 17 years and younger receive free admission. Students are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive. Click HERE for full list of this weekend’s promotions.
Arkansas returns to the court Saturday for matches at 11 a.m. (CT) against Army and 7 p.m. against Kansas. Both matches will be streamed live online through SEC Network+, the network’s digital platform. Web broadcasts are available online at SECNetwork.com, ESPN3.com or through the WatchESPN app.
For more information about Arkansas volleyball, follow @RazorbackVB on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.