The Razorback volleyball team returned to Barnhill Arena with a 3-1 win over the LSU Tigers in Arkansas’ Southeastern Conference opener Wednesday night.
The Wednesday match was the first at Barnhill since the Arkansas Classic tournament on Aug. 29.
Coming into the match, Arkansas was 9-2 on the season with only non-conference matches played, including the Arkansas Classic and the Bobcat Classic tournament in Bozeman, Montana. Arkansas returned to Fayetteville after a 3-0 sweep of NC State at the ACC/SEC Challenge in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Sept. 17.
In the opening set, the Hogs and the Tigers started off trading points until LSU went on a three-point run, leading 6-3. Despite putting up several late pushes, Arkansas did not score more than two consecutive points and dropped the set, 25-17.
Errors stifled Arkansas’ efforts, leading to the eight-point loss. The Razorbacks finished the first set with 13 kills, 10 errors and a shaky .061 hitting percentage compared to LSU’s 12 kills, three errors and .281 hitting percentage.
Arkansas took a lead to begin set two, but several outs and service errors hurt the Razorbacks’ early momentum. LSU responded with an important dig to tie it early at 9-9. LSU scored four straight before going on a 5-2 run to make it 18-11. The Razorbacks then mounted a comeback with three straight kills.
With a 19-17 lead, LSU called a timeout in an attempt to slow the hemorrhaging. Arkansas went on a 3-1 run to tie it at 20-20 before hitting it out to go down by one. The teams traded points until an ace and kill from Arkansas ended the set at 27-25, tying the match.
Arkansas reduced its error total to six, but several outs by the Razorbacks late in the game kept the score close.
The Razorbacks started the third set with a 4-1 run before the Tigers roared back to take a 6-5 lead. LSU then went on a run, going up 14-9 before Arkansas called a timeout to slow the Tigers’ momentum.
LSU controlled the lead at 17-14 before the Razorbacks scored four unanswered to take an 18-17 advantage. From there, Arkansas finished out the set with a 5-1 run to end it, 25-19.
Arkansas capitalized on LSU’s worst hitting percentage of the night at -0.026 to go up 2-1 in the match.
The Volley Hogs started out a hard-fought set four in a 4-0 hole. They quickly rebounded with four straight points and took the lead from there.
Arkansas and the Tigers traded scoring streaks until LSU tied it 9-9. The Razorbacks responded with a 6-3 run to go up 15-12. After three points and a momentous long rally, Arkansas led 18-15.
Despite a kill by the Tigers and a net violation in their favor, the Razorbacks found their footing to lead 23-18. Arkansas finished out the Tigers 25-20 to get its first win at Barnhill since Aug. 28.
Junior Jillian Gillen led Arkansas with 29.5 points. Sophomore Taylor Head scored 13 and junior Maggie Cartwright scored 12. The Razorbacks played eight players during the match — all of whom played in all four sets — to LSU’s 13.
Arkansas scored 75 points across the four sets, blocked eight LSU attacks as a team, and had a point scoring percentage of 43.
With Wednesday’s win, the Razorbacks’ record improved to 10-2 overall, with a 1-0 conference record. Arkansas ranks No. 2 in the SEC, trailing only Ole Miss’ 12-0 record.
Next up for the Hogs is a road trip to Knoxville, Tennessee, for a two-day competition against the Tennessee Volunteers this Saturday and Sunday. The first match will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday and will be broadcast on the SEC Network+.