Norton big as Arkansas defeats No. 21 Tennessee for first time since '07
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – With a final kill out of the middle by Janeliss Torres-Lopez, Arkansas sealed a four-set victory (25-21, 20-25, 25-17, 25-17) against No. 21 Tennessee Friday evening in Knoxville. The win is the Razorbacks’ first against UT since 2007. That season was also the last time Arkansas defeated a ranked team. With the victory, the team improves to 10-3 overall and evens its Southeastern Conference record at 1-1.
Jasmine Norton paced the Razorbacks with 12 kills and 12 digs, good for her eighth double-double performance of the season. Raymariely Santos also posted her eighth double-double with 38 assists and 11 digs. Arkansas registered a .266 hitting percentage and had five players with at least seven kills. Defensively, the Razorbacks tallied 16.0 total blocks and limited Tennessee to a .150 hitting percentage. Libero Emily Helm led all players with 18 digs and Amanda Anderson tied her career high with eight total blocks.
“It was certainly an exciting win tonight,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “We did the right things and executed our match plan. I thought we stayed composed and played hard. We played like a team. We’re a powerful group when we play together. I’m proud of our kids and we’re proud of this win because we know we beat a quality team in Tennessee.”
After an even start to the match with neither team gaining more than a two-point lead, the Volunteers made a push to take a 15-12 lead. Arkansas responded with a four-point run to take the lead after a UT attack error. Tennessee (8-4) put together a quick run of its own to take an 18-16 lead, but the Razorbacks used their block to make the definitive move of the opener.
During a six-point surge, Arkansas had four total blocks, all four involving Torres-Lopez. The Razorbacks led 22-18 at the end of the streak of points. The home team pulled to within two at 23-21 but Arkansas arrived at set point after an attack error from Kelsey Robinson. On the team’s first chance to clinch the opener, Norton found the floor to close out the set, 25-21.
The home team responded and jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the second set. The Razorbacks pulled to within two points and trailed 11-9 after back-to-back kills from Norton and Roslandy-Acosta. Tennessee re-established control with a four-point run and forced an Arkansas timeout. The Volunteers carried the momentum to a 25-20 set win to even the match.
Out of intermission, the Razorbacks won the first four points of the third set with kills from Norton and Liz Fortado and a pair of blocks featuring Anderson. Tennessee made a charge to pull to within one but Arkansas never relinquished the lead. After an attack error from UT, the Razorback advantage was 17-11 and the Lady Volunteers had to call a timeout. The visitors maintained their lead and on its first set point, Arkansas closed it out, 25-17, with a kill from Acosta.
The Razorbacks had another quick start in the fourth set, jumping out to an 8-2 lead with the help of three blocks. After a timeout, Tennessee closed its deficit to two but Arkansas held steady to take a five-point lead at 15-10 after a kill from Fortado. Consecutive attack errors from the Lady Vols increased the lead to eight. Santos put away her fifth kill of the match to give the Razorbacks a handful of match points, 24-15. On the team’s third chance to seal the win, Torres-Lopez slammed her ninth kill of the match to close it out.