Defense Shines in Five-Set Win over Kansas State

Box Score

OMAHA, Neb. – Behind a season-high 15.0 total blocks and 95 digs, the University of Arkansas volleyball team defeated Kansas State in five sets Saturday afternoon at the Creighton Classic. With the win, the Razorbacks improve to 9-2 on the season and pick up their first win over K-State since the 1998 season. Arkansas returns to the court Saturday at 8 p.m. (CT) to face No. 11 Wisconsin for the team’s non-conference finale.

For the eighth time this season, the Razorbacks held their opponent under a .200 hitting percentage, limiting Kansas State to a .164 figure. Freshman libero Okiana Valle had a career-high 26 digs to pace a quartet of Razorbacks with double-digit digs. She was joined by Kori Ortiz with 18 digs and Pilar Victoria and Monica Bollinger with 17 and 13, respectively. At the net, Chanell Clark-Bibbs tied her career high with eight total blocks and was one of four Razorbacks with at least four blocks along with Victoria, Ana Sofia Jusino and Adrien Wohlschlaeger.

Offensively, Victoria completed her fifth double-double effort with a team-high 20 kills, her third 20-kill showing of the season. Clark-Bibbs was right behind her with 19 kills of her own, 18 of which came over the final four sets with just one attack error. Off the bench, Danielle Harbin finished the match just one off her career high with 13 kills against the Wildcats while Liz Fortado added 10 kills. Wohlschlaeger tallied a career-high 52 assists, just missing a double-double with nine digs.

Arkansas 3, Kansas State 2 (19-25, 25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 15-11)
Attendance: 1,262 | Time: 2:24
D.J. Sokol Arena | Omaha, Neb.

• Leaders vs. Kansas State
o Kills: Pilar Victoria – 20
o Digs: Okiana Valle – 26
o Blocks: Chanell Clark-Bibbs – 8.0 (1-7)

In the decisive fifth set, the Razorbacks fell behind early and trailed 7-4 after an attack error that forced head coach Robert Pulliza to use a timeout. Arkansas responded by winning six of the seven points to take a 10-8 lead on a K-State miscue. A pair of kills by Victoria stretched the advantage to 13-9 and Clark-Bibbs found the floor to give the Razorbacks match point at 14-10. Victoria ended an extended rally and the match with a kill off the Wildcat block.

Trailing by a set and tied 11-alll in the second set, Arkansas reeled off six points in a row to take a 17-11 lead after a kill by Victoria. The run also featured a pair of kills from Clark-Bibbs who tallied five in the frame. Kansas State (8-3) got as close as two points at 18-16 but the Razorbacks won five of the next six points to cushion their advantage, capping the surge with a Harbin kill. On set point, Victoria tipped over the block to tie the match at one set each.

The Razorbacks faced a four-point hole in the third set before putting together a 7-0 run, capping the push with consecutive kills from Barbara Dapic and Victoria to take a 19-16 lead. From that point, the duo of Clark-Bibbs and Victoria combined for four kills. On the team’s third set point, Harbin called for the ball and responded with a kill to give the Razorbacks a 2-1 match lead. Defensively, Arkansas registered 5.0 total blocks in the frame.

Kansas State forced the fifth set with a win in the fourth, coming out on top of a back-and-forth battle. The Wildcats led by two to three points through most of the early stages of the set but Arkansas finally pulled even at 19-19 with a block by Jusino and Fortado. The score was tied at each point until 23-all when K-State sealed the set with a pair of kills.

The Creighton Classic marks the end of the non-conference season and begins a stretch of seven-straight matches against opponents that played in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Conference play begins Sept. 23 at LSU. The Razorbacks’ next home match is Oct. 4 for their SEC home opener against fifth-ranked Florida.

For more information about Arkansas volleyball, follow @RazorbackVB on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.