NORMAN, Okla. - The UALR netters (4-8) put up a valiant effort in its final two matches before conference play at the Oklahoma Invite on Saturday (Sept. 15). However, Oklahoma (11-3) won in straight sets in the first match 25-22, 25-19, 28-26 while SMU (3-9) took the second in five sets 25-22, 19-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-17.
Leading the way on the day for UALR was sophomore Edina Begic with 45 kills and 24 digs, including a double-double of 25 spikes and 19 bumps against SMU. Sophomore Daniele Souza Moura hit a scorching .429 (16 kills and only one error in 35 attempts) while classmate Eva Xie added 26 kills in two matches, including 19 against the Mustangs.
Sophomore Marleen de Zoete added 90 assists, with 57 assists and five kills on 11 attempts with no errors (.455%) in the nightcap. Senior Emily Pepperman contributed 26 digs against SMU and 40 for the day.
SMU won in five sets, thanks in-part to a 9-5 edge at the net and a slight lead in hitting percentage (.267-.254), including .439-.256 in what proved to be a critical third set.
For SMU, it was a quartet of individuals with double-digit kills, led by Carolina Young with 20 and only four errors on 45 swings (.356 hitting percentage). Courtney Manning was even more proficient with 16 kills and only 4 errors on 28 attacks (.429 hitting percentage).
Both teams went on considerable runs in set one, but it was SMU with the final push for the three-point win. With UALR up 12-11, Manning tied it up for the Mustangs and a service rally by Susan Lewis gave SMU the 17-12 lead. Two errors by Caroline Day for SMU helped spark a run for UALR that tied it at 18, but a kill and solo block by Maddie Lozano put the Mustangs up two and SMU claimed the set by three.
UALR took a commanding lead in the second with a 7-1 run early in the frame and held on to tie the match. With the Mustangs leading 10-9, two Begic kills put UALR back on top. SMU tied it up with a sideout, but a Begic kill proved to be the go-ahead point for UALR in the set. De Zoete stepped to the service line and a Souza Moura kill and assisted block with Xie, an ace and an SMU error put UALR up 16-11.
SMU pulled within 22-19, but kills by de Zoete, Begic and Souza Moura put the Mustangs away and tied the match.
SMU turned the tables in the third with a strong end of the frame to claim the critical third set. UALR led 21-19 until a Caroline Young kill and UALR attack error knotted the match. Another kill and UALR error gave SMU a pair of set points. Both teams sided-out as UALR lost a heartbreaker 25-23 and trailed 2-1.
The fourth saw both teams go on huge runs all to end up tied 20-20. Begic and Xie both turned in kills to give UALR the critical two-point cushion. After both teams split the next two points, it was Xie who scored off the Trojans serve to bring up match point at 24-21. SMU survived one, but it was not enough as a Xie spike ended the set and sent the match to sudden death.
UALR raced to a 5-0 lead in the fifth thanks to two Begic kills, a sophomore Adisa Hodzic spike and a pair SMU errors. Both teams split the next six points and UALR held an 8-3 advantage upon switching courts. That proved all the difference as the Mustangs answered with seven unanswered to take a 10-8 lead thanks to five kills (four by Young) a service error and a UALR error. SMU received two set points up 14-12, but UALR held thanks to a double-block by Hodzic and Begic and an error by the opposition. Both teams traded the next two points before a kill and block by SMU ended the match.
In the opener, UALR gave the host Sooners all they could handle, however, Oklahoma came out on top for the straight set victory. Keila Rodriguez led Oklahoma with 12 kills and only one error on 23 attempts (.478 hitting percentage) while Tara Dunn added 11 spikes. The Sooners outhit the Trojans .302-.258.
The Sooners led the entire first set, but UALR put a scare into the crowd with a run with Oklahoma on set point. The Sooners led 24-18 before Xie put the Trojans on serve with a kill. Stepping to the service line down four, UALR wrapped a pair of kills around an OU error to force a Sooners timeout. Kierra Holst for Oklahoma ended the set with a kill at 25-22 to quash the UALR uprising.
Oklahoma out-paced UALR by six in the second but UALR came out strong in the third. With the frame at 15-all, a block and kill by Souza Moura with a kill by senior Sawyer Schaedig gave the Trojans an 18-15 advantage. At 24-21, Oklahoma repelled three set points thanks to a pair of Dunn kills around a UALR error. The Trojans had two more set points to extend the match, but finished it with a trio of points on a kill and a service and setting error by UALR.
The Trojans enter Sun Belt play next weekend when they travel to southern Florida. UALR battles FIU at 6 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 21) before concluding the trip on Sunday (Sept. 23) against Florida Atlantic at noon.