Hogs continue sweeping streak with wins over Trojans and Panthers
The Razorbacks returned to Barnhill Arena for a pair of games on Friday and went 2-0 without dropping a set for the fifth game in a row, with wins over Little Rock and Florida International.
It’s the first time Arkansas has held five consecutive games since the 2001 season, and the Hogs are currently 6-1 this season.
Junior Taylor Head led the day for the Razorbacks and had 25 kills over the two games with 11 digs in Game 1 for a double-double. His .545 hit percentage in Game 1 was a team high. Sophomore setter Hannah Hogue led both games in assists with 48 total, and graduate setter Gracie Ryan had 26 assists and a double-double in Game 2 with 12 digs.
In the Hogs’ game against Little Rock, they held the Trojans to .029 save percentage, which is a new season high for the team. The Razorbacks also had eight service aces from four different players against the Trojans.
First game: Little Rock
While both teams played close to the start, Arkansas ignited the fire with a four-point streak that featured back-to-back aces from Jill Gillen and went up 9-5. After a timeout from Little Rock, the Trojans scored three more points, but the Hogs fought back with five straight games, capped by a pair of game-clinching wins from Maggie Cartwright, which extended the lead to 16-8. Little Rock curled up and regrouped with a 7-3 run, but the Hogs reached 20 on a Hailey Dirrigl kill. The Trojans bungled the set point twice, but the Razorbacks an offensive error from Little Rock closed it 25-18 in favor of the Hogs.
The Razorbacks rolled early in the second set with a 7-1 streak with pocket aces from Head, which forced a timeout from Little Rock. Arkansas kept the pressure on and extended the lead to 10 on a Cartwright kill, which made it 17-7. The Trojans added just one more point in the set, but the Hogs responded with eight unanswered points, including two Gillen kills, for the 25-8 second-set victory. Arkansas held Little Rock to a -0.088 clip in the set, the Hogs’ second-lowest percentage all season and the first time they’ve kept an opponent in single-digit points in a set.
The Trojans first threatened early in the third set and trailed by two, but a four-point run spurred by a kill from sophomore Jada Lawson gave Arkansas a 6-4 advantage. The Hogs kept up the momentum from there and pulled away to 10-6 on an ace from Tatum Shipes and Little Rock called time. The Trojans added three runs, but the Hogs chained five with two kills from Cartwright, one from Lawson and Head and an ace from Courtney Jackson and went up 19-9. Little Rock went 4-2 but couldn’t mount a big enough comeback, and three straight Arkansas wins sealed the third set 25-14 for a game sweep in Arkansas.
Second game: CRF
The Hogs and Panthers stayed close in Game 2 of the day to start, but Arkansas went up two to 15-13 on FIU offensive errors in media timeout. The Hogs pulled away with a pair of kills from Gillen and Head for a four-point lead and the Panthers called again. The teams traded points, but Arkansas limited the FIU to one at a time while another Head kill gave the Razorbacks a 22-17 advantage. FIU used their final timeout, but Arkansas went 3-1 and kills from Gillen and Shipes closed the first 25-18.
The Razorbacks hit the ground immediately in the second set and quickly took a 6-1 lead. The Panthers tacked on four runs from there, but the Hogs held on to a doubled lead at 10-5 on a head kill. FIU then made a 4-1 run to reduce Arkansas’ advantage, which was answered with a Panthers error and a Cartwright kill to regain the lead at four at the media break. FIU cut the deficit to just one, but three straight Arkansas runs made it 22-18, and the Panthers called time. FIU crossed the 20-point threshold and wasted a set point for the Razorbacks, but an FIU offensive error put it in the hands of Arkansas, 25-21.
Neither team led by more than two in the opening points of the third set, but Arkansas capitalized on FIU mistakes to solidify the lead and picked up three straight points, including a Dirrigl kill and an ace. of Ryan for a 15-9 advantage. After the media timeout, FIU gained ground with five points, but Arkansas added four, including two Panthers errors. FIU curled up 19-14 again, and while the Hogs were first at 20, the Panthers put the pressure on and used a three-point streak to get closer to three. FIU threatened again after their final timeout and crushed three match points for the Hogs, but a service error made it 25-22 to complete the Arkansas sweep.
Arkansas takes on Colorado in the Arkansas Invitational Finals on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. at Barnhill Arena. Colorado is also 2-0 in the tournament with two sweeps, and the Buffaloes have won 14 straight sets to Arkansas’ 15. The match will be broadcast live on SEC Network+, and tickets are available online or in person.
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