ARK VB NIVC 2021

Razorback players gather around to talk strategy during Tuesday’s NIVC loss to UNLV. Arkansas finished the year 20-11, marking the program’s most wins since 2017.

The Razorback volleyball team’s longest season since 1998 came to a close Tuesday after losing to UNLV in the third round of the National Volleyball Invitational Championship in El Paso, Texas.

The Hogs’ 19-10 regular season record earned them a first round bye in the 32-team NIVC. In the second round, the Razorbacks comfortably swept the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks with set scores of 25-18, 25-17 and 25-18.

Arkansas then faced off against the UNLV Rebels, who swept the Hogs. Despite the sweep, the Razorbacks kept it close.

The teams traded two-point leads in the first set before the Rebels closed it out, 25-23. The second set was as tight as the first, but UNLV held onto an early lead to win 25-22. By the third set, the pressure had gotten to the Hogs, and the Rebels claimed a comfortable 25-17 victory, ending Arkansas’ postseason run.

The American Volleyball Coaches Association announced regional team selections Tuesday, coinciding with Arkansas’ loss to UNLV. Senior Gracie Ryan and junior Jill Gillen were chosen for the South All-Region Team.

In addition to her All-Region selection, Gillen was named to the All-Southeastern Conference team, and became the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row.

The Hogs finished the season with an overall record of 20-11, the most wins for the program since 2017. The team’s appearance in the NIVC was its first postseason play since 2013, and Arkansas’ second-round sweep of Stephen F. Austin was the first postseason victory for the Hogs since a 2005 sweep of St. Mary’s in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Razorbacks’ loss to UNLV was the team’s first third-round appearance since Hawaii swept them in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.

Arkansas finished two of its first three seasons under current head coach Jason Watson with a losing record, but has since recorded two straight winning seasons.

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