MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Maybe five sets are not so bad after all?
After a 1-4 record in matches that went the distance last season, the UALR volleyball team (1-1) got off on the right foot in 2012 with a five-set victory over Austin Peay (1-1) 13-25, 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13 in the nightcap of the Memphis Invitational. The Trojans lost its first match of the day against Eastern Michigan (2-0) 25-16, 22-25, 25-21, 25-22.
"We did a lot of good things today," head coach Van Compton said. "We tried different things and some worked and some did not. Our hitters played well and had a solid hitting percentage. We have some things we need work on but if we can control the things we can control, we will be competitive all season."
Sophomore Edina Begic began the year right where she left off in 2011, tallying a pair of double-doubles with 17 kills and 12 digs against EMU while recording 25 kills and 17 digs against APSU. Begic, however, received help at the net with 23 kills and nine blocks by classmate Adisa Hodzic. Senior Daniele Souza Moura added 15 kills, 13 digs and seven blocks in two matches.
"Our first match, we hit decent as a team but Adisa and Daniele hit great. Especially considering they did not play in the middle last season," Compton said.
Senior Eva Xie had a solid day off the bench with 21 kills and six blocks. Sophomore Marleen de Zoete dropped a pair of 40 +-assist matches while senior Emily Pepperman contributed 39 digs.
In the second match, UALR dropped the first set before storming back to take the next two frames. UALR led by as much as five in the second set at 20-15, but after a Lady Govs timeout, an 8-3 run tied the match at 23. UALR kept its composure and a Hodzic kill and an ace by Pepperman tied the match.
APSU looked to take control of the match in the third, racing to a 17-10 lead, but freshman Tyler Davis and de Zoete had different plans for the Trojans on their respective serves. A Souza Moura kill put Davis behind the serving line and two more kills and attack error later, the deficit was four. Both teams traded the next four points, but four straight Lady Gov errors (the last two blocks by Xie) tied the match at 20. APSU took a slim 23-22 lead before kills by Xie, freshman Mikalah Booher and Begic put UALR up 2-1.
"Mikalah only had three kills with two errors (against Austin Peay), but two of her kills came at critical times for us," Compton added.
The Lady Govs turned the tables in the fourth set by coming back from a 16-10 deficit to tie the match. In the fifth with the set tied at 11, Begic recorded four kills in six points to end the match and give the Trojans their first win of the season.
In the first match of the day, Hodzic recorded a personal best 13 kills and a .524 hitting percentage for the Trojans to go along with double digit kills by Begic (17), Xie (11) and Souza Moura (10). Eastern Michigan outhit UALR 55-53 and .265-.218 in kills to claim the four-set win.
The Eagles took set one by nine points thanks to holding UALR to a .065 hitting percentage. With only one kill in set one, Begic recorded six in set two and UALR hit .404 as a team to tie the match.
Set three saw a 16-16 tie before a 5-0 Eastern Michigan run gave the Eagles a lead it would never relinquish. Eastern Michigan rushed out to a seven-point lead in the final mset and held on to win the final frame by three.
"The stats were equal with Eastern Michigan and we had shots to beat them, we just couldn't capitalize," Compton explained.
UALR returns to action tomorrow in its final match of the Memphis Invite against the host Tigers. First serve is set for noon.