FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Posting its first win in the series since the 2007 season, the University of Arkansas volleyball team beat No. 9 Florida in front of 1,231 fans Sunday afternoon at Barnhill Arena. With the win, the Razorbacks push their winning streak to five matches and improve to 13-2 overall and 3-0 in SEC play. Sunday’s win marked Arkansas’ second top-15 win of the season, having defeated then-No. 11 Wisconsin on Sept. 19 at the Creighton Classic.
With their hot start to the season, the Razorbacks have tied the 1998 team for the best start in program history and are now 3-0 in SEC play for the first time since the 2003 season. Overall, this marks Arkansas’ fourth 3-0 start in conference play. Sunday’s victory is the Razorbacks’ first over a top-10 opponent since beating the Gators in Barnhill Arena in 2007 when they were ranked fifth in the country.
Arkansas 3, No. 9 Florida 2 (25-23, 15-25, 25-19, 18-25, 18-16)
Attendance: 1,231 | Time: 2:35
Barnhill Arena | Fayetteville, Ark.
• Leaders vs. No. 9 Florida
o Kills: Pilar Victoria – 21 (fifth 20-kill performance of the season; third in SEC play)
o Digs: Okiana Valle – 17
o Blocks: Chanell Clark-Bibbs – 5.0 (0-5)
Arkansas is now 4-0 in five-set matches this season after Sunday’s win. Florida (9-4, 1-3 SEC) won the first two points of the fifth but the Razorbacks used a three-point push to take a 5-4 lead and increased its advantage to 9-6 after consecutive tandem blocks by Liz Fortado and Ana Sofia Jusino. Arkansas registered 6.5 total team blocks in the fifth set including a stuff from Clark-Bibbs and Victoria to give the home team match points at 14-12.
The Gators won the next two points to pull even at 14-all to set up a back-and-forth ending. Overall, the fifth set featured seven ties including ties at 14, 15 and 16. At 16-16, Fortado and Jusino teamed up once again for a block to give Arkansas its fifth match point. On the next play, Florida posted the final attack error of the match to clinch the Razorbacks’ victory.
The Razorbacks won five of the first seven points of the match, taking a 5-2 lead on a kill by Clark-Bibbs. With Arkansas ahead by one, Florida used a 7-1 run to go ahead 15-10 at the media timeout. The home team pulled even at 21-all on a tip by Victoria over the Gators’ block. After a kill by Clark-Bibbs to give the Razorbacks set point, Victoria flew in out of the back row for her ninth kill to clinch the opening frame.
With the matched tied at one set apiece, Arkansas used its tough serving to gain control of the third. Back-to-back aces by Clark-Bibbs have the home team a 9-5 lead. The Razorback led by as many as six points in the set, taking the third set on a kill by the senior middle blocker. Florida returned the favor, using an 11-2 surge in the middle of the fourth on its way to winning the set to force the fifth.
The Razorbacks return to action Wednesday, Oct. 7, with a road match in Lexington against No. 21 Kentucky. First serve of the midweek contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) on the SEC Network. Wednesday will cap a stretch of seven straight against teams that played in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Arkansas is 5-1 through the first six matches of that stretch.
For more information about Arkansas volleyball, follow @RazorbackVB on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.