Razorbacks Play in Michigan Tournament
The Razorback volleyball team spent the weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., where they defeated Maryland-Baltimore County and Central Michigan before falling to No. 22 Michigan in a five-set match.
The loss to Michigan is the first loss for the Razorback team this season and drops their record to 6-1. This tournament was also the first time the Razorbacks have been on the road this season.
“We played a good match, just not good enough,” head coach Robert Pulliza said of the match with Michigan. “We did some good things against a very good Michigan team, but in the end, it wasn’t enough. We still have work to do to keep getting better.”
Before playing the Michigan Wolverines, the Razorbacks beat UMBC and Central Michigan without losing a set.
A Friday night match with UMBC was Arkansas’ first challenge of the tournament. The Razorbacks defeated the Retrievers 25-16, 25-20 and 25-7.
Senior Roslandy Acosta led the team with 13 kills and senior Jasmine Norton followed with 11 kills. Arkansas’ defensive attack only continued to get better, holding UMBC to a .098 hitting average.
Norton also moved into fourth on the Razorbacks’ all-time kill list on her sixth kill of this match.
The Razorbacks were behind early in the first and third sets but found a way to take control of the game quickly. During the third set, Arkansas scored 20 points during a stretch in which only two servers came to the line, Norton and senior Kasey Heckleman.
“Being our first road match in a different environment, I’m certainly pleased with the outcome,” Pulliza said. “The score in the third set (25-7) indicates we got better as the match went on. We were sloppy at times but were able to manage ourselves to execute.”
The next match of the tournament was the first of two on Saturday for the Razorbacks. Arkansas defeated the Chippewas of Central Michigan, a team that went to the NCAA tournament last year, in three straight sets (25-21, 25-16, 25-15).
“That was a very good win,” Pulliza said of the match with Central Michigan. “They are an NCAA Tournament team from last year and we did some good things to get a win.”
Acosta and freshman Liz Fortado had seven kills each in this match and Fortado posted a .700 hitting average while Acosta hit .429.
On the defensive side, junior libero Emily Helm led the team in digs with eight and senior Janeliss Torres-Lopez had a match-high three blocks.
The turn-around was quick for the Razorbacks though, as they had to face the hosting and No. 22 Michigan Wolverines later that day.
Michigan proved to be an exhausting and challenging match on both sides. The home team eventually won after five sets (25-17 Michigan, 25-21 Arkansas, 25-22 Michigan, 25-21 Arkansas, and 18-16 Michigan).
Arkansas had two match points in the fifth set before Michigan rallied and eventually walked away as champions of the Adidas/Michigan Challenge Tournament.
Norton led all players with 19 kills and a career-high 24 digs in the five-set match. Norton and Acosta eventually earned spots on the all-tournament team for their efforts throughout the weekend.
Although the Wolverines came away with the win, the Razorbacks led in both digs and total blocks.
The Razorbacks now return home for a Tuesday night match with Oklahoma before competing in the Razorback Invitational this coming weekend. That tournament features Houston Baptist, Louisiana-Monroe and Texas-El Paso.