Career numbers lift Lady'Backs over Georgia in SEC action

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FAYETTEVILLE – Several players posted career numbers as the University of Arkansas volleyball team notched a five-game win over Georgia in Southeastern Conference action in Barnhill Arena Friday.

Arkansas (8-9, 2-5 SEC) got career-bests from Kristin Seaton, Yun Tang, Catherine Fowler and Sarah Freudenrich in the Lady’Backs’ 30-25, 30-29, 30-32, 28-30, 15-9 win over Georgia (14-4, 4-4 SEC). SEC action continues Sunday as the Lady’Backs host Auburn at 1:30 p.m.

Arkansas battled adversity from the first serve after losing junior Christina Lawrence during a late-day practice. Lawrence was injured and unable to play giving junior middle Tang the start as Arkansas shuffled the lineup.

Seaton responded with a career-best 20 kills and 10 digs leading the Lady Razorbacks. Tang recorded a career-best 10 block assists and 11 total blocks while Fowler tied her career numbers with eight blocks. Freudenrich posted a career-high 12 kills and hit .435. She also had seven blocks for Arkansas.

“What a battle,” said a relived Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. “Christina literally went down on the final play of practice and we just threw together a lineup. We didn’t have time to work on it at all before playing and I think the team responded really well. I’m proud of the effort tonight.”

After convincing play in the first two games, Arkansas stalled a bit as Georgia heated up in the third and fourth frames. But it was all Arkansas in the deciding game as the Lady’Backs hit .250 with nine kills holding Georgia to .000 for the game.

Arkansas blasted out of the blocks in the final stanza taking a quick 3-0 lead as Georgia called its first timeout. Arkansas’ offense, sparked by several great digs, continued to cruise as the Lady’Backs were up 8-2 as the teams changed sides. Senior Jessica Dorrell paced the home team with three kills in the final game. She finished with 17 kills and a near-career-best 18 digs for the Lady’Backs.

The Lady Razorbacks were solid in the first game hitting .250 to Georgia’s .143 in a balanced attack. Arkansas got five kills from Dorrell and four each from Heather Royal and Seaton while out-blocking the Bulldogs 3-0.

Georgia grabbed the early lead but Arkansas, fueled by a big win at Tennessee last Sunday, rallied with scrappy defense and a hard-hitting attack to pull even at 16 points.

The Lady’Backs had been struggling around the mid-point of previous games but seemed to find strength as the game went on opening a four-point lead. Arkansas went on a 6-1 run to close out the game with Dorrell and Seaton leading the way.

The game-two nail-biter was thrilling to the last serve with Arkansas eking out the 30-28 win. The Lady’Backs hit just .164 to Georgia’s .208 but six kills from Seaton was the difference.

Georgia seemed to have the momentum early leading by as many as five points late, 25-20. The 10-3 run by the Lady’Backs featured two Georgia timeouts as the Bulldogs tried to stop Arkansas. Tied at 27, Arkansas got a big kill from Fruedenrich to take the lead.

Georgia tied the game but a service error handed the lead back to the Lady’Backs. Georgia took its final timeout but Arkansas won the game after a long rally that ended with a Seaton kill.

Arkansas blasted out of the gates in the third game trying to send Georgia home in three but the Bulldogs had other ideas. The Lady’Backs dominated play early and had a five-point lead but the game was a back-and-forth affair until the very end. Game three had 16 tied and four lead changes before Georgia got the win.

The game was tied at 27, 28, 29 and 30 but a pair of Georgia kills gave the Bulldogs the tough win.

Both teams pressed hard in the fourth frame as evidenced by the unforced errors on both sides of the net. Despite the errors, Arkansas stayed energized coming back from a five-point deficit to tie the game at 22-all.

The intensity increased on both sides of the net with both teams making athletic plays on long rallies. Arkansas scratched out a three-point lead only to surrender it at the 27-point mark and the Bulldogs were able to put the game away.

Georgia hit negative .047 only to be out-done by Arkansas who hit negative .136 as both teams committed more hitting errors than they tallied kills.