(Photo Courtesy: Walt Beazley)
AUBURN, Ala. - The University of Arkansas volleyball team lost in four sets (25-20, 16-25, 24-26, 14-25) Sunday afternoon at Auburn. The Razorbacks were paced by a double-double performance from junior Meredith Hays who had a match-high 18 kills to go along with 14 digs. Senior libero Emily Helm tied for the match lead with 15 digs. With the loss, Arkansas drops to 14-12 overall and 7-8 in Southeastern Conference play.
Hays leads the team with nine double-doubles, seven of which have come during the conference season. She has double-digit totals in 23 of 26 matches this season and 13 with at least 15 kills. Helm had seven of her 15 digs in the second set for her 29th set of the year-and 19th of the SEC season-with at least six digs. Freshman Breana Jones was second on the team with seven kills while redshirt freshman Ana Sofia Jusino had a team-high six total blocks.
Arkansas won five of the first seven points of the match and built its lead to as much as eight at 20-12 following a solo block from senior Hayley Koop. Auburn (16-9, 7-6 SEC) pulled to within four late in the frame but on the team's second set point, Koop and Jusino teamed up for block to give the Razorbacks the 1-0 match lead. Five different players had at least two kills in the opener.
With the match tied at one set each, Auburn jumped out to an early 8-2 lead in the third but the Razorbacks rallied to pull even at 13-all with a five-run surge capped by consecutive blocks from Jusino and freshman Barbara Dapic. Arkansas took its first lead of the game at 22-20 after a pair of Auburn attack errors. The score was tied again at 24-24 when the home team rattled off the final two points to take a 2-1 match lead.
After a quick start by the Tigers in the fourth set, Arkansas steadied to begin a sequence of back-and-forth points between the two teams. With the score tied at 7-all, the Razorbacks won five of the next seven points to take a 12-9 advantage after kill from Hays. However, Auburn made a final push by winning 16 of the final 18 points to close out the set and secure the 3-1 match win.
With the completion of this weekend's slate, the Razorbacks will be away from competition until Nov. 22 when Arkansas returns to Barnhill Arena to begin its final home stand of the season. The Razorbacks will host South Carolina and Mississippi State. The team's regular-season finale is scheduled for Nov. 27, a midweek road trip to Missouri.