Unforced errors hurt Razorbacks

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FT. COLLINS, Colo. – The University of Arkansas battled its own unforced errors as well as Eastern Washington’s strong serve dropping the second match of the Hilton Classic in Ft. Collins, Colo., Saturday morning. Arkansas (0-2) fell to the Eagles (1-1) 23-25, 12-25, 14-25 in the morning match. The Razorbacks return to the court for their final match of the weekend against Denver at 6 p.m. central. “The unforced errors are definitely something we need to address,” said Arkansas head coach Robert Pulliza. “We’ve been doing a pretty good job of that in practice but we need to carry that over to matches. We are giving opponents far too many points. The high point for us today is the way we played in much of set one,” Pulliza continued. “We played Arkansas Volleyball. Obviously, we can do good things out there. We just have to be more consistent and maintain it.” Arkansas hit -.085 for the match with just 16 kills in the match. Sophomore Heather Royal paced Arkansas with six followed by freshman Kelli Stipanovich with five. Senior Karen Tang led the blockers with six in the match. Arkansas seemed to be fully in control of the first set. The Razorbacks opened a seven-point, 11-4, lead early behind solid play from Tang both as a hitter and blocker. But EWU closed the gap tightening the score with a 9-2 run to tie the set at 13. It would be a close battle from that point. Despite the closeness, Arkansas still appeared to be in control of momentum and held the lead late with a 23-21 advantage. The Razorbacks’ offense stalled, however and EWU took advantage of back-to-back hitting errors by Arkansas winning the opening set. The momentum swung to the Eagles side of the net in set two as EWU opened a 7-3 lead behind strong serving that included a pair of aces. Pulliza burned Arkansas’ first timeout hoping to slow the attack. But the strong serving of EWU was difficult for Arkansas to overcome taking the Razorbacks out of system on nearly every play. Pulliza nearly cleared the bench using substitutions to try to change Arkansas’ fortunes but the Razorbacks dropped the second set heading into the locker room. Arkansas’ hitting woes continued as the Razorbacks were negative .217 for the match and they did not register a block in the second set. The Razorbacks came out of the locker room with better energy and a new starting rotation in the third set and the changes worked early. The teams were tied at three-all when Arkansas committed an unforced error that opened the door for the Eagles. EWU went on a 6-1 run as they pulled ahead, 9-4, at the first timeout. Arkansas managed several mini-runs in the set but EWU was able to keep the Razorbacks on their heels with tough serving and they never surrendered the lead. Arkansas continues tournament action late Saturday facing Denver at 6 p.m. central. For more information about Arkansas volleyball, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.