BOCA RATON, Fla. - The first Sunday match of the season, why not celebrate with another match that goes to sudden death?
UALR (6-8, 2-0 Sun Belt) converted 8-of-9 side out chances (.888 percent) in the critical fifth set as the Trojans bested Florida Atlantic (3-8, 0-2 SBC) 24-26, 30-28, 26-24, 15-25, 15-9 Sunday afternoon (Sept. 23) in Boca Raton, Fla. The Trojans have not lost to the Owls in seven all-time meetings.
The Owls were able to outhit the Trojans .293-.251 and 77-66 in total kills. UALR only won the battle on the block 10-9, but tallied a 3-1 advantage in the all-important fifth set.
Sophomore Edina Begic strengthened her national lead in both points and kills per set with a match-high 28 kills (six errors, 64 attempts, .344 hitting percentage) and 33.5 points. Begic also managed her 10th double-double of the season with a match-best 22 digs. Sophomore Adisa Hodzic turned in her fifth double-digit kill game of the season with 10 spikes while senior Eva Xie added 17 kills against only four errors.
Senior Daniele Souza Moura and sophomore Allison Wyatt both added 11 digs. Sophomore Marleen de Zoete contributed 53 assists.
Alessia Pizzocheri led FAU with 22 kills and 22 digs. Jelena Jovanovic contributed a match-high 63 assists and finished with 11 digs. Chandler Hatton added 16 kills with only four errors on 29 attempts (.414).
Neither team could assert control in the first set as the biggest lead was three by UALR at 15-12. FAU actually took a 21-19 advantage before a Begic kill and de Zoete's only ace of the match tied up the set. FAU got the sideout, but kills by Begic and senior Sawyer Schaedig gave UALR the 23-22 lead. FAU tied the match with a kill but followed with a service error to put UALR on set point. However, FIU closed the set with kills by three different players to take a one set lead.
UALR, who is no stranger to a 30-point set, knotted the match with a gutsy win in frame two. The Trojans took an early 12-8 lead thanks to a Begic kill and a pair of assisted blocks by the team of Xie-Souza Moura. Up 23-20 later in the set, FAU rattled off four-straight points to put them one point away from a commanding 2-0 lead. Xie knotted the match at 24 and both teams traded points until 27-all. UALR got its first set point thanks to a block by Xie and Souza Moura.
FIU tied the set at 28, but kills by Begic and Xie knotted the match at one-set apiece.
It took extras again in the third with UALR claiming the 26-24 win. FAU took control early up 12-7, but like Friday night, it was a de Zoete service run which provided a spark for the Trojans. A service error put de Zoete on serve and an attack error by FAU and a Begic-Xie block cut the deficit to two. Begic added three-straight kills and UALR took the 13-12 lead. Tied later at 23, FAU committed a service error to give UALR set point. The Owls forced an extra point, but a Souza Moura kill and a Florida Atlantic ball-handling error gave UALR the 2-1 lead.
The fourth set was all the home team to send it to the fifth. UALR won the first point on a service error before five unanswered gave the Owls the lead for good and an eventual 10-point win.
The fifth saw UALR string two-points together all set to take a small lead before a big run on Hodzic's serve at the end of the set. With the set squared at three, Hodzic teamed up with Begic for a block and a Begic kill gave the Trojans a lead it would never relinquish. FAU won the next point, but another sideout followed by a Begic kill pushed the lead to 7-4. Both teams traded points until 10-8 when a pair Begic kill gave the serve to Hodzic. A block by Begic-Souza Moura pushed the lead to four and an Owls timeout could not slow the Trojans momentum. A Begic kill and a bad set by FAU put the visitors on set point. Both teams sided-out to end the match as UALR won the finale 15-9.
After spending the first month on the road, UALR opens up home play Friday against the Warhawks of ULM (4-7, 0-2). First serve is set for 7 p.m.