Good effort falls short

Jump to Florida box

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas put forth a good effort but fell short in Southeastern Conference volleyball action to No. 5 Florida in three sets in Barnhill Arena Sunday.

Arkansas (7-6, 1-1 SEC) lost 16-25, 19-25, 24-26 to the Gators (8-1, 2-0 SEC) but head coach Robert Pulliza was pleased with the effort of his young team.

"We finished well," Pulliza said. "It’s all a learning process and we got better this weekend. We’re getting better and we need to play teams like Florida. It gives us an idea of what we need to work on and what our weaknesses are. What’s exciting to see is that we’re doing the right things. We came out a little gun-shy in the beginning but we settled in and responded as the match progressed."

Arkansas faced an uphill battle with a very experienced Gator team. Florida out-hit Arkansas .275-.144 but Arkansas won the blocking battling 7.0-6.0 and was close in digs just one behind the Gators.

Sophomore Kelli Stipanovich and freshman Jasmine Norton led Arkansas in kills with seven each but it was the Razorback middles who were most noticeable in the match. Freshman Amanda Anderson had six kills and four blocks while freshman Janeliss Torres-Lopez hit .667 for the Razorbacks. Freshman Allison Johnson saw significant playing time in the second and third sets giving Arkansas a bit more height in the middle. She finished hitting .400 with three blocks.

"We’ve been living and dying with our outside hitters," Pulliza said. "Our middles gave us some offensive pop today. That’s another part of the game that got better today."

Arkansas struggled a bit in the first frame adjusting to the Gators’ game and things didn’t look good to start the second set as the Razorbacks spotted Florida five points.

Pulliza quickly took a timeout and that proved to be all the motivation Arkansas needed as the effort doubled by the Razorbacks. Arkansas gave up that 5-0 run to start set two but finished just six back, 19-25.

"We were just a little shell-shocked to start but we took that timeout and everyone responded," said Pulliza. "That first five points was the difference in the set."

Arkansas finished the second frame hitting .286 in a very good effort despite the loss.

The third frame saw the Razorbacks maintain their momentum and battle Florida closely throughout. The set featured four tied scores and three lead changes with Arkansas leading by as many as four, 15-11, near the mid-point of play.

Florida rallied and tied the set at 23 and again at 24 before closing out the win.

Arkansas continues SEC play with back-to-back road weekends traveling to Tennessee and Kentucky next weekend and Georgia and Auburn the following weekend.

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