CARBONDALE, Ill. - With apologies to sophomore Edina Begic, who easily recorded a season-high 31 kills, tonight was a UALR block party against UT Martin.
The Trojans matched a season-high in the conference with 16 team blocks and sophomore Adisa Hodzic tallied 10 assisted blocks as UALR (3-4) downed UT Martin (1-6) in four sets 25-14, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21 Friday night in the first match of the Saluki Invitational.
"We just came out and played well and let our guard down in the second set," head coach Van Compton explained. "Then we had to fight to win the final two sets of the match."
UALR came out of the gate on fire with 15 kills against only one error and 39 total attacks (.359) in the first set and used the block over the final three sets to beat UT Martin. The Trojans outhit the Skyhawks .245-.149 and outblocked UTM 16-7.
"We have worked to improve our blocking and it came through in the final three sets," Compton said.
Individually, UALR had three near misses with double-doubles. Begic was two digs shy of double-digits while Hodzic had nine kills to go along with her 10 blocks. Sophomore Marleen de Zoete dropped 52 assists while also contributing seven blocks.
Senior Emily Pepperman had 17 digs while sophomore Allison Wyatt contributed 16 digs.
For UT Martin, Amanda Crask led the way with 34 assists, 10 digs and seven kills. Taylor Simons had 12 digs and 11 kills while Lynsey Hazlewood led the Skyhawks with 14 kills.
UALR came out quick and had an 8-2 lead in the first set before anyone could blink. With UALR up 3-2, a bad Skyhawk set put the Trojans back on serve and a Hodzic kill and two aces by Begic forced a timeout. An assisted block by Hodzic and senior Sawyer Schaedig put UALR up six.
The Trojans never led by less than five in the opener and won 25-14. Begic recorded eight kills and no errors on 17 attempts for a .471 hitting percentage.
Set two saw another hot Trojan start to a set, but this time it was thwarted by the Skyhawks. Freshman Tyler Davis started on serve and two blocks by de Zoete and a kill by Begic gave UALR a 3-0 lead. After both teams sided out the next four points, de Zoete went on a service run. A service error by UT Martin made it 5-2, and then a Hodzic-senior Daniele Souza Moura assisted block, two aces, a Begic-Hodzic block and a kill by senior Eva Xie made it 10-2 and forced a Skyhawks timeout.
UT Martin stormed back little by little and eventually tied the set at 20. A kill by Hazelwood and two errors by UALR gave UTM the 23-20 lead. Both teams split the next four points and the match was knotted at a set apiece.
The third was nip-and-tuck for the entire set with UTM only receiving a brief three-point lead at 10-7. UALR finally got the two-point lead at 21-19 thanks to a Hodzic kill and Hodzic-de Soete block, but UTM fired back with a Crask kill and ace. Both teams stayed within one until 23-23 when two errors by the Skyhawks gave UALR the 2-1 advantage.
The fourth and final set looked to be a back-and-fourth affair once again, but a quick 6-0 run with fueled by Begic kills put UALR up for good. Down 12-11, Begic tied the set with a kill and put Pepperman on serve. For three of the next four points, a de Zoete set found Begic, who slammed it to the court for the Trojans 17-12 lead.
"That was one of the best runs by an outside hitter I have seen with four of five points by Edina's kills. She finished the match hitting .421 and had seven errors, but even two or three of the errors came on back-row attacks," Compton explained.
UTM climbed within 23-21, but a Begic kill and Davis' only second ace of the season ended the match.
UALR returns to action tomorrow when it plays a duo of matches to finish up the Saluki Invitational. It begins play at noon against host Southern Illinois before concluding the weekend against Nicholls State at 5 p.m.