LITTLE ROCK - To change pace a bit, the Trojans decided to do something it has not done in almost a month: play only four sets.
UALR (9-8, 5-0 Sun Belt) took the first two sets and stormed back in the fourth to down South Alabama (10-9, 3-2 SBC) 25-23, 25-21, 12-25, 25-19 in SBC intra-divisional play Friday night (Oct. 5) at the Jack Stephens Center.
"We played well the first two sets and came out flat in the third," head Coach Van Compton said. "We got down in the third and played like we wanted it over. We held on in the fourth and got the win despite South Alabama beating us in about every statistic.
"But the victory feels good," Compton added.
The Jaguars won the battle in kills (56-53), assists (55-51), hitting percentage (.269) and total blocks (8-7), but it was UALR who was able to persevere for the win.
Senior Eva Xie came off the bench for 12 kills on only 25 swings with three errors (.360). Sophomore Adisa Hodzic reached double-digit kills for the fourth match in a row with 13 on 28 swings (.321). Sophomore Edina Begic registered her 12th double-double, a new personal best, with 16 kills and 11 digs.
"Edina cannot play out of her mind every night. It is just impossible. We thought she was off but she got the double-double. We needed the team to really step up and tonight they were great," Compton said.
Senior Emily Pepperman added a match-high 16 digs while classmate Daniele Souza Moura contributed 11. Sophomore Marleen de Zoete added 44 assists.
South Alabama was paced by Katariina Kananen's double-double of 45 assists and 14 digs. Lindsay Schwartz had a match-high 17 kills with Olivia Mohler adding 14. Savannah Stewart led the Jaguars with 15 digs.
UALR came out of the gate with a 6-3 lead, but South Alabama fought back and took a 9-8 lead thanks to a pair of Trojan attack errors. USA held on to the 14-13 advantage until a kill by Xie knotted the score. Begic stepped to the service line and delivered an ace for the UALR lead. Another Xie kill and an error by South Alabama opened up a three-point cushion.
The Jaguars called a timeout down 18-15 and promptly scored the next three to tie it up. An error by UALR put USA on serve. A kill by Melissa Waelter and an assisted block tied the score. After a pair of sideouts, senior Sawyer Schaedig looked like it gave UALR the lead it needed on her serve. A setting error by South Alabama pushed the lead to 20-19 and an ace and two Begic kills pushed it to 23-19. USA had one more run and pulled within 23-22, but Souza Moura got the kill and sideouts by both teams ended the set 25-23 in favor of the home team.
Service runs by de Zoete and Pepperman pushed UALR out to a lead early in the second it would never relinquish. South Alabama actually took an early 3-1 advantage before a service error put de Zoete on serve. A Jaguar error, de Zoete ace and a Hodzic kill flipped the score and gave the Trojans the two-point advantage. Both teams traded the next four points before Pepperman's serve broke through thanks to a USA ball-handling error. Pepperman added an ace on a ball that hit the net and snuck over to force a South Alabama timeout with UALR up 9-5.
The Trojans kept a comfortable lead the entire set, leading by five on three occasions, but South Alabama fought back with 22-20. Another critical USA service error and a Hodzic-Begic block gave UALR set point. South Alabama saved one, but a Hodzic stuff ended the set and put UALR up 2-0 for its third-consecutive home match.
South Alabama caught fire in the third set, opening up with 6-1 lead and never looking back. After trading the first two points, Torlandria Jones went on a service run that gave the visitors the lead in the third for good. Two Schwartz kills followed by a pair from Mohler gave USA a 5-1 lead and forced a UALR timeout. The Jaguars were 10-13 (76%) on forcing sideouts and outhit the Trojans .429-.129 in the frame to win by 13.
"Give South Alabama credit. They went into intermission down two sets and came out on fire in the third," Compton added.
Fortuitous bounces defined the fourth set early for UALR. With the Trojans clinging to a 4-3 lead, Hodzic and de Zoete put up a block that was heading out of bounds on the South Alabama side of the net. USA could not get out of the way and UALR went up 5-3. Up by three, Xie placed an attack down the line that was headed out, but again, USA could not get out of the way. South Alabama called a timeout, but an attack error and solo block by Begic capped a 7-0 UALR run.
USA slowly crept back in the set and pulled within 15-13, but de Zoete came back with another service run to all but end the set. Hodzic and Begic started the rally with a kill followed by a another ball-handling error by South Alabama to push the home teams lead to 18-13. UALR was able to hold off USA rally to go to up 24-19 before a Begic kill ended the match.
The Trojans look to move to 6-0 in conference play tomorrow when it hosts Troy. The Trojans of the East are 12-8 overall and 3-2 in Sun Belt play after a four-set loss at Arkansas State.