Arkansas hosts block party; Haaser shines
Jump to SMS box FAYETTEVILLE – In her final regular season match in Barnhill Arena senior Jennifer Haaser stepped up leading the University of Arkansas to a come-from-behind win over Southwest Missouri State Tuesday in non-conference volleyball action. Haaser recorded a career-best 24 kills, hit .426, had 17 digs and nine blocks in the 28-30, 27-30, 30-28, 30-27, 15-11 win improving Arkansas to 15-13 overall while SMS fell to 19-9. Haaser was not alone in her efforts as sophomore Kele Brewer posted a career best 21 kills and hit .275. Sophomore Denitza Koleva added a near-best 21 kills while freshman Ashley Miller tied her career-best with 29 digs. Arkansas entered the match ranked 14th in the country in blocking averaging 3.12 blocks per game but the Lady’Backs knew they were in for a fight as SMS was ranked second in the NCAA with a 3.51 bpg average. The Lady’Backs won the blocking battle out-blocking the Bears 18.0 to 11.0 in the win. The final frame provided most of the drama for Arkansas. The first point went to the Lady’Backs on a kill from freshman Jessica Dorrell. She finished with five and had five blocks. It was nip-and-tuck until Arkansas took a 5-4 lead on a kill from Brewer – it was a lead they would not surrender. The Lady’Backs were up 8-5 at the break and SMS was never able to threaten Arkansas again. Arkansas was flat from the opening serve struggling to get its offense going in the first game. The Lady’Backs spotted SMS a seven-point lead and the Bears pulled ahead by as many as nine, leading 19-10. The Lady’Backs flipped a switch at the point scratching their way back into the match with a 9-2 run and going on to tie the game at 22-all on a sonic boom kill from freshman Jessica Dorrell to quiet the SMS bench. The teams would see the score tied four more times before SMS got a kill from Katie Werges taking the lead for good. Arkansas began the game hitting negative but pulled out the first frame hitting .212 with 20 kills paced by five from senior Jennifer Haaser and four each from Denitza Koleva and Kele Brewer. The second game was a much closer affair as the Lady’Back offense was more efficient in the early going. The teams traded points until Arkansas captured its first lead, 24-23, on a tip from Koleva. The Middleton, Wis., native vaulted into the air on the left side, paused and tipped the ball over giving the Lady’Backs the lead. Arkansas managed a two-point advantage with an SMS hitting error but the Bears came right back reclaiming the lead with an ace serve and kill moving on to the win. Arkansas was statistically better in the second game hitting .267 with 20 kills, six of which came from Brewer. The Lady’Backs jumped out of the blocks in the third game showing some of their recent Jeckyl and Hyde personality. Arkansas managed a one, then two point lead but the Bears kept the game close until the Lady’Backs closed with a 7-1 run keyed by five kills from Haaser and four block assists from the lone senior. The fourth frame was slow and methodical on both sides of the net. SMS caught the first break and was able to open a two-point, 7-5, lead but Arkansas chipped its way back staying close tying the game at eight and again at 11 with a solo block from junior Karla Crose. Brewer gave the Lady’Backs the lead for good and, although SMS was close, Arkansas’ win was never in jeopardy. The Lady Razorbacks depart Wednesday for the 2004 Southeastern Conference Tournament hosted by Florida in Gainesville, Fla., Friday-Sunday, Nov. 19-21. The Lady’Backs enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed behind Florida and Tennessee and face sixth seed Louisiana State in the first round. Arkansas and LSU square off at 1:00 p.m., Central Friday in a match that airs live in Fayetteville on KXUA, 88.3 FM, and on the internet at www.ladybacks.com.