Razorbacks Grab First SEC Win Over Rebs

The No. 20 Arkansas volleyball team brought home conference action on Saturday afternoon, claiming their first SEC win with a 3-1 win over Ole Miss.

The Hogs are now 10-2 overall and 1-1 in conference, and the Rebels are 4-8, 0-2 in the SEC.

“We feel good. I think sometimes there’s some expectation that makes us not play as loosely as we did at the beginning of the year,” said head coach Jason Watson. “We need to navigate this space a little more healthily as we move forward. Ole Miss played a really good game and put a lot of pressure on us and probably made us work a lot harder than we wanted to. But I think it’s good for us, I think we needed it and of course we’re happy about the win.”

Senior outside hitter Jill Gillen put in another standout performance for the Hogs, notching 19 kills with just two penalties for a .472 batting average. She also had eight digs, two team-best aces, and bolstered defense with four block assists. Junior Taylor Head had an Arkansas high of 20 kills and 10 digs for a double-double, her eighth of the season.

The Razorbacks racked up 11 team blocks that game, their third consecutive double-digit streak. Graduate middle blocker Tatum Shipes led the team with eight, while Gillen and graduate Hailey Dirrigl contributed four each.

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set 1
A Gillen kill closed the opening set early at 4-4, but the Hogs scored four straight points to take the lead. Ole Miss took an 8-4 timeout and added two after that, but the Razorbacks made up for a 14-6 advantage with a six-point run that included two kills from Dirrigl and a Gillen ace. The Rebs cowered again, but Arkansas showed no mercy and then extended the lead to as much as 11 points. A Gillen kill sent the Hogs to set point, and Dirrigl closed the door in the first frame 25-14 in Arkansas’ favor. The Hogs hit .452 against Ole Miss’ .138 in the opening set.

sentence 2
The Rebels came out with a vengeance in the second set and quickly took a 7-1 lead, forcing a timeout for Arkansas. The Hogs threatened a four-point run and another set-three shortly after to reduce the deficit to three, but the Rebs didn’t let up. They were the first to equalize a serve error in Arkansas with 20 points, and two consecutive points for a 22-15 lead caused Arkansas to regroup. The Hogs had five unanswered points from there to put it at 22-20 and Head had four straight kills to put it at 22-20. However, Arkansas was running out of time, and back-to-back Rebel kills sealed the second 25-21 for Ole Miss, tying the match 1-1.

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set 3
Arkansas capitalized on an early 3-0 run capped by an ace by Head to secure the early advantage in game three. The Hogs held the lead until an attacking error tied the score at 7-7. The teams traded three-point runs midway that tied things back up to 10-10. Arkansas pulled away with a kill from Gillen and a block from Gillen and Shipes for a 13-11 advantage, but the Hogs couldn’t score more than two points at a time, allowing the Rebels to threaten. Ole Miss went up one at 19-18, and the two teams held onto it with four draws from then on. Gillen made it 23-all, and then the Hogs locked in. The next two points went to the Razorbacks for a narrow 25-23 set win and a 2-1 lead in the match.

set 4
The start of the fourth was all hogs and elder Maggie Cartwright contributed two kills in a four-point run, leading to an Ole Miss timeout. The Rebs stayed with them too, responding with four straight points to tie it at 5-5. Ole Miss briefly took the lead, but Cartwright added her fourth kill of the set to swing the momentum in Arkansas’ direction. It didn’t take long, however, and the teams were tied with eight draws afterwards. The Razorbacks then led 4-1 for a 19-16 lead that Ole Miss Call Time had. Head pushed Arkansas over 20, but Ole Miss came within one. After a timeout, the Hogs responded well, and kills from Head and Cartwright put Arkansas two away. A pair of Head and Gillen then finished the set 25-21, giving the Hogs the 3-1 match win.

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Arkansas resumes conference play next week with the team’s first SEC series against Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi on Saturday, October 1 at 11 a.m. and Sunday, October 2 at 1:30 p.m. Saturday’s game will be streamed on SEC Network Plus. and Sunday’s game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.

More information
Visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com for the latest information on Arkansas volleyball. You can also find the Hogs on social media by liking us on Facebook (Arkansas Razorback Volleyball) and following us on Twitter and Instagram (@RazorbackVB).

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