A crushing 3-2 defeat for the Razorback volleyball team against Tennessee overshadowed a great performance by the Hogs Wednesday night. 

The Razorbacks (8-16, 2-10) had been swept in four of their last five matchups and were looking for a sign of life at the end of the season against Tennessee (11-12, 5-8), who was coming off of an impressive sweep at Alabama. 

The first set started off with both teams exchanging points. Freshman Jill Gillen put the Razorbacks on the board with an impressive kill. 

Arkansas was not able to get the ball past the defense of Tennessee very often throughout the first set, a trend they have displayed most of the season. Nearly half of the Volunteers’ first 13 points came off of blocks or an Arkansas error. 

Tennessee jumped out to a 16-5 lead midway through the first set, resulting in a timeout from Arkansas head coach Jason Watson. Directly out of the timeout, the Hogs went on a two-point run to bring the deficit back to single digits. 

A few kills by the Razorbacks and a huge block by junior Elizabeth Pamphile gave Arkansas some slight momentum toward the end of the first set. A four-point run by the Hogs brought the score to 23-16, and Tennessee called a timeout to regroup.

The Volunteers came out of the timeout with two straight points to take the first set 25-16. Gillen led the Razorbacks with four kills and three digs. 

Watson said he thought the team finished off the set on a good note. 

“We like to think we have the magic, but we don’t,” Watson said. “I thought we played well towards the second half of the first set.”

Arkansas started off the second set with the first points and kept that momentum going by stretching its early lead to 4-1. The Razorback defense showed out early by refusing to let the Volunteers gain the lead.

The Hogs took a 9-6 lead over Tennessee that caused the Volunteers head coach Eve Rackham to burn a timeout. This proved to be beneficial to Arkansas, as they came out passing the ball well to push the lead to 13-9.

Arkansas continued to exchange kills with the Volunteers, including a tricky kill by freshman Maggie Cartwright to put the Hogs up 16-13. Tennessee continued the set with serving woes and lack-luster defense.

Arkansas prevailed in the second set winning 25-21. The Razorbacks nearly evened up the statistics gap between the two teams after a rough first set with a total of 19 kills and 22 digs throughout the first two sets.

The third set started off almost identical to the second, as the Hogs jumped to and early 7-3 lead. The Razorbacks went from straight faces in the first set to all smiles as they recorded kill after kill in the third.

The Volunteers went on a 5-0 run to narrow the deficit to 13-10.

Watson called a timeout to adjust defensively, he said.

“There were some defensive adjustments we were trying to make on their outside hitter,” Watson said. 

After the timeout, Tennessee would not allow Arkansas to pull away. The Volunteers were able to tie the score at 20-20. 

Though Tennessee continued to threaten, Arkansas took the third set 25-23. Despite the lack of kills in the set, the Razorbacks fed off of Tennessee errors to take their second set victory in a row.

The Razorbacks fell behind Tennessee 5-8 early in the fourth set. Though the Volunteers took the early momentum, Arkansas continued to battle, not letting the Tennessee lead reach more than five points.

Cartwright and Gillen continued their impressive games throughout the middle of the set, providing pivotal kills to keep the Hogs alive. Arkansas brought the game to within one point, but Martin would ask for a timeout after Tennessee extended their lead to 18-15. 

Cartwright said not focusing on the score works to the team’s advantage at times. 

“When you’re not thinking about the score and needing to catch up, you play well, you play better,” Cartwright said. 

A Tennessee serving error that brought the score to within two sent the crowd inside of Barnhill Arena into a roar. Though the Razorbacks made an impressive comeback, Tennessee secured a victory in the fourth set, tying the teams at two sets apiece.

The battle for a third Razorback conference win on the season came down to the fifth and final set. Both teams did not show signs of surrendering early, as the score went back and forth with multiple ties early.

After the score was tied at five, Tennessee began to pull away. They took a commanding 10-6 lead after a misjudged hit by Gillen.

Arkansas managed to score two more points in the set, but Tennessee took the fifth set and the match 3-2. The Volunteers finished with 67 kills and 76 digs compared the the Razorbacks 53 kills and 68 digs.

The Razorbacks fell to a record of 8-17 on the season, while Tennessee improved to 12-12.

Arkansas’ next game will be Sunday, Nov. 17 against Alabama in Barnhill Arena at 12 p.m. on the SEC Network.

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