Lady'Backs win thriller in five

Jump to Kansas box score LAWRENCE, Kansas – A balanced team effort lifted the University of Arkansas to a thrilling five-game win over Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, Saturday. Arkansas improves to 7-1 overall with the 35-33, 27-30, 30-26, 25-30, 15-11 win over Kansas who falls to 7-2 on the year. “No doubt we played better today than yesterday,” said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. “This is a huge win for us against a very good Kansas team who knocked off No. 16 BYU Thursday. We were awful in the loss to BYU Friday and I told the team they had a chance to redeem themselves today and we did that.” The match came down to the fifth and deciding game and by then the momentum belonged to the Lady’Backs. The teams were tied at eight-all when Poole took his first timeout. Although KU scored out of the break, Arkansas stayed focused and took advantaged of a couple of KU hitting errors. KU tried to stop the momentum with a timeout but the Lady’Backs used a kill from senior Amy Allison and a block from Allison and sophomore Christina Lawrence to continue the scoring. “The crowd was fantastic,” said Poole. “The louder they got in the fifth game, the better we seemed to play. We feed off the fans as much as the home team does. I’m really proud of the way we came back and fought for this win.” Senior Denitza Koleva and Lawrence each posted 12 kills for Arkansas in the win. Koleva added 14 digs for her seventh double-double in eight matches. Lawrence’s performance was a season best. Senior Kele Brewer added 11 kills and Allison tallied 10 while hitting .308. The Jenks, Okla., native had a season-best 11 blocks in the win. Junior libero was four digs shy of the school record with 28 for the Lady’Backs. “Our blocking was outstanding today,” said Poole. “It was the difference-maker we know it can be. I thought we struggled somewhat with our passing but we hung in there and stepped it up in the critical moments.” Fans in the gym knew it would be a thrilling match from the first, hotly contested game when the teams needed “extra points” to win. A thriller to the end, the most intense drama came late after both coaches were out of timeouts and the score was tied at 29. The back-and-forth exchange was fueled by several unforced errors including five service errors between the two teams as neither program really grabbed control of the momentum. Tied at 33-all, Arkansas took the one-point lead on a Jayhawk hitting error and followed up by a big dig then a deep back row kill from Dorrell as Arkansas eeked out the 35-33 win. Arkansas hit just .146 in the first game and managed just 14 kills scattered among the Lady’Back hitters. KU out-hit Arkansas .216-.146 and had half again as many kills with 21 but the Lady’Backs were able to take advantage of the Jayhawk’s unforced errors down the stretch. Game two began with as much energy and hard-hitting as the first game but Arkansas lost its focus at the mid-point spotting the Jayhawks a six-point, 22-16, lead. “It’s almost impossible to come back from a deficit like that in rally scoring,” said Poole. “We just can’t spot good teams any kind of lead, especially on the road.” Arkansas did scrape together some points to threaten Kansas near the end of the frame. The Lady’Backs came within two, 22-24, but Kansas finished strong for the three-point win to tie the match at the break. Kansas again had significantly more kills, 24 to Arkansas’ 15, in the second game but the Lady’Backs did out-hit the Jayhawks .286-.254 in the frame. The Lady’Backs’ block also came to life late with Arkansas out-blocking Kansas eight-three at the end of the game. Both teams played as though they were trying to punish the volleyball in one of the hardest-hitting matches of the season. It was Arkansas, however, who managed to pull ahead at the mid-way point taking a five-point, 14-9 lead, but Kansas was still very much in the match. In fact, the Jayhawks tied the contest at 18 and the teams reverted to the sea-saw battle that characterized the first two games. The Lady’Backs maintained the momentum despite the raucous KU crowd pulling ahead by three. The Jayhawks stayed focus and fought their way back into the game getting as close as one, 27-26, but Arkansas hung on for the win. Arkansas hit .300 in the third frame and by the end of the stanza was hitting .248 for the match while KU was hitting .236. The Lady’Backs still did not have a player in double-digit kills although Koleva and Brewer were knocking on the door with nine each. The Jayhawks had three players in double-figures paced by Emily Brown’s 18 with at least one game still to play. The defense had been statistically strong through three with the Lady’Backs holding the blocking edge with an 11-4 margin. KU had out-dug Arkansas 64-59 at that point. Arkansas had the advantage to start game four and quickly opened a four-point lead but the Lady’Backs surrendered that lead just as quickly on three consecutive service aces by the Jayhawks. The momentum shifted to the home team who promptly took the lead and forced Poole to burn his first timeout trailing 12-9. Arkansas stayed close but couldn’t regain the lead as the Jayhawks picked up the pace of the game and didn’t make many errors down the stretch. The Lady’Backs made a run late in the frame getting within a pair, 27-25, but Kansas hung on for the win to force a fifth game. The Jayhawks out-hit Arkansas .136-.079 in the fourth game as the Lady’Backs struggled with seven hitting errors and KU managed four blocks in the game to stymie Arkansas offense. Arkansas opens Southeastern Conference play Friday traveling to Eastern Division rival Kentucky. The Lady’Backs conclude the weekend at Tennessee Sunday. Both matches will air live on KXUA, 88.3 FM in the Northwest Arkansas area and on the internet at LADYBACKS.COM.