Lawrence gets 22 kills in Arkansas win
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –University of Arkansas senior Christina Lawrence posted a career-best 22 kills leading the Razorback volleyball team in a come-from-behind Southeastern Conference win over Auburn in Barnhill Arena Sunday. Lawrence and the Razorbacks (6-15, 3-8 SEC) dropped the first two sets and trailed in the third before rallying for the 13-25, 23-25,25-23, 25-22, 15-9 over Auburn (5-18, 0-12 SEC). “Wow,” said Arkansas head coach Robert Pulliza. “It was character. The kids showed so much heart and soul today. I’m very proud of them. “It was a total team effort,” he continued. “Every player on the bench contributed. It was very exciting and I think today was the absolute definition of what a team is.” Lawrence’s 22 kills bettered her previous best of 17 set at Tennessee earlier this year. She also had two digs and a career-best six blocks for the Razorbacks. In addition to Lawrence, sophomore Heather Royal tied her career-high with 19 kills and freshman Kelli Stipanovich added 11 kills as Arkansas had three players in double figures. Arkansas hit .278 for the match just better than Auburn’s .274 and both teams finished with 67 kills. Auburn out-blocked and out-dug Arkansas but lost the contest. “It doesn’t matter if you win in three or win in five,” said Pulliza. “You just gotta win. We didn’t quit and stayed on task. I’m also thankful for the crowd. They stayed all afternoon and supported us and we’re thankful they were here.” Arkansas did not play its best volleyball in the first two sets. The Razorbacks hit .200 in the first frame and just .163 in the second committing 14 unforced hitting errors. The Razorbacks were in trouble in the third set as well trailing by as many as seven, 21-14, late in the frame. Arkansas mounted a dramatic comeback fueled by Lawrence and the offensive attack. But the Razorbacks strung together eight unanswered points to take the lead at 22-21, changing the tone of the match. Sophomore Hillary McCormick’s knuckle-ball serving brought the Razorbacks back and she got an ace giving Arkansas the 22-21 advantage. A kill from Royal allowed the Razorbacks to step even closer to the win. Auburn panicked with a pair of unforced errors as they handed Arkansas the third set. The fourth set saw the Razorbacks dash out of the gate and seize control of the set early, but it was Auburn’s turn to rally. The Tigers reclaimed the lead and stretched it to 14-9 prompting Pulliza to burn his second and final timeout. Lawrence came out of the break with a kill, followed by an Auburn hitting error. Lawrence then teamed with senior Yun Tang for a block, pulling within two. Auburn was again able to control the scoring as they went up four but Arkansas just wouldn’t die as they outscored the Tigers 6-2 tying the set at 21. The Tigers burned their final timeout but it was Arkansas who responded to the break with a block from Lawrence and Tang as the Razorbacks took the lead for good. With the win, Arkansas forced the fifth and deciding set. Auburn jumped out 3-0 and Pulliza took a quick timeout to settle the Razorbacks. Arkansas rallied to tie the set at five and took the lead on a Tiger hitting error. The teams traded points with Arkansas clinging to an 8-7 advantage as they traded benches. Auburn got a kill on the first play to tie the set at eight but it was all Razorbacks down the stretch. Senior Caira Dortch got a kill followed by another from Tang and an ace from sophomore Mackenize Rhea as the Razorbacks firmly seized control of the momentum and the match. Arkansas hit a match-high .550 with 11 kills and no errors in the final set. The Razorbacks return to SEC road action next week traveling to South Carolina and No. 7 Florida. Both matches are scheduled to air live in Northwest Arkansas on 88.3 FM and on the internet at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.