UALR closes out the first round of Sun Belt West division play this week when it travels to the University of Louisiana Lafayette Saturday (Oct. 13) and host rival Arkansas State on Tuesday (Oct. 16) for the Trojans only midweek game of the season. Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette both face off against each other on Friday (Oct. 12). Arkansas State (14-8, 4-2) is tied for second in the west with North Texas while Louisiana-Lafayette (10-11, 2-4) sits fourth.
Live stats (free) for both matches and a live video (subscription) links are available on the home page at UALRTrojans.com and on the volleyball schedule page. Tickets against the Red Wolves are $5 for adults and $4 for kids. For more information on this and season passes, please call 501-565-UALR.
If you are looking for the perfect definition of a streaky team, the Ragin' Cajuns might very well fit that bill. After dropping the first two matches of the season, it quickly rebounded with a four-match winning streak. ULL dropped the next four, followed by a winning five of the next six to get above .500. The Ragin' Cajuns are currently mired in a slump having lost four of the last five.
Do not let the ULL record fool you because it has plenty of closes matches. They have played and lost five matches that have gone the distance. Both teams have five common opponents with UALR a perfect 5-0 while ULL is 3-2. The two losses were five-set heartbreakers on the road (Florida Atlantic and North Texas).
The Rajin' Cajuns lead the SBC with 1.6 aces per set but is last in the conference with 1.57 blocks per set. Otherwise, ULL is middle of the road in pretty much every other category, including sixth in hitting percentage (.198) kills (12.58 per set) and digs (14.10 per set).
The Rajin' Cajuns like to spread the kills around as no player is in the top-10 of the conference but three ULL players average more than two a set. Junior outside hitter Lavinia Tataran leads the way with 2.55 kills per set, followed by senior middle Blair Claypoole (2.26) and sophomore outside hitter Kelly Wiesmann (2.14). ULL has three players in the top-10 in aces with senior setter Mandi Gavin second in the conference with 0.36 aces per set. Close behind is sophomore outside hitter Andrea Hole (0.33) and ninth is Tataran with 0.28 aces. Gavin is sixth with 9.22 assists per set while sophomore libero Caitlyn Auxilien is sixth with 4.13 digs per set.
Scouting Arkansas State
After a brief trip to Lafayette, La. over the weekend, UALR returns home to square off with its rival Arkansas State. Both have many common opponents with UALR 6-1 and ASU 5-2. ASU lost to North Texas and FIU among teams the Trojans have beaten while UALR lost to Troy in four this past Saturday (Oct. 6). ASU beat Troy in four the night before.
Arkansas State's strength seems to be offensive as it is second in kills (13.96 per set), just edging out UALR. However, the Trojans sit second in assists per set with the Red Wolves close behind (12.92). ASU is high in digs (15.01) but near the bottom of the conference in blocks (1.89) per set. However, the Red Wolves doubled up the block against Troy, 18-9 to win in four. UALR lost the blocks category 9-5 in a loss to Troy the following day.
Individually, ASU has four players average more than two kills per set, led by senior outside hitter Jasmine Terry (3.77 per set). She is also third in that category in the SBC. Junior middle Kelsey Sullivan averages 2.76 while sophomore outside hitter Taylor Szypulski adds 2.58. Senior Allison Kearney is third with 10.97 assists per set while junior libero Megan Baska is fifth with 4.19 digs per set.
Last Time Against Louisiana-Lafayette
LITTLE ROCK - The UALR volleyball team dropped its final match of the 2011 regular season Sunday (Nov. 13), losing at Louisiana-Lafayette 1-3 (25-18, 20-25, 23-25, 20-25).
Edina Begic led the team with 17 kills with Paige Gantar adding 16. Gantar also led the team in blocks with eight, including three block solos.
Emily Pepperman recorded a team-high of 18 digs and Daniele Souza Moura contributed ten digs in the loss.
In the first set, UALR jumped to a 3-0 lead on a kill by Kristi Block, a service ace by Allison Wyatt and a Louisiana-Lafayette error. After a kill by UL, the Trojans rattled off seven-straight points for a 10-1 lead. UL never recovered as the Trojans held the Ragin' Cajuns to 18 points and scored the final four points of the set winning on a UL error.
In the second set, UL opened on a 3-1 run with the Trojans' point coming from a kill by Begic. The Trojans pushed points tying the score at seven on a kill by Gantar and taking the lead on a Ragin' Cajun error. The score tied three more times, before UL recorded five-straight points including two UALR errors for the 18-13 edge. The Trojans did not recover scoring 20 points for the set as the Ragin' Cajuns won the set on a kill.
Both teams exchanged leads with the score tying several times to start set three. With the score tied at 12, a service ace by UL followed by a UALR error gave the Ragin' Cajuns the two-point edge. UALR pushed points cutting the score to 23-24 on back-to-back kills by Begic. A Trojan service error gave UL the set win.
In set four, both teams opened with points, until a UL service error sparked a 2-0 run by the Trojans. UALR held the lead for the majority of the set, but the Ragin' Cajuns pushed points tying the score at 20 on a UALR attack error. UL then scored the remaining five points including two UALR errors for the set and match win.
Last Time against Arkansas State
LITTLE ROCK - The UALR volleyball team lost to in-state rivals Arkansas State 1-3 (19-25, 28-26, 17-25, 16-25) at the Jack Stephens Center Friday (Oct. 14).
Edina Begic led the team with a career-high of 32 kills and also recorded eight digs, while Emily Pepperman led the team in digs with 18. Marleen de Zoete led the team in assists with 51, and Kristi Block recorded a team high of six blocks.
The Trojans recorded 28 attack errors to Arkansas State's 19 and recorded ten receiving errors to ASU's zero.
Both teams exchanged points to open the first set, before an Arkansas State (16-6, 7-1 SBC) attack error sparked a 4-0 run for the Trojans including two kills by Eva Xie. UALR maintained the lead, until the Red Wolves pushed points tying the score at 16 on a Trojan error. Both teams scored, before a UALR attack error sparked a 5-0 run by ASU. The Trojans didn't recover scoring 19 points as the Red Wolves won the set on a UALR attack error.
Set two started with both teams scoring, before Arkansas State took the 4-1 advantage. UALR pushed points tying the score at four on an ASU error and taking the lead on back-to-back kills by Begic. The score tied four more times, before the Red Wolves gained the edge.
With the score 24-18 set point in ASU's favor, a kill by Begic sparked a 7-0 run by the Trojans to tie the score at 24 all. Both teams exchange leads, before an ASU service error and attack error gave the Trojans the 28-26 set win.
ASU opened the third set on an 8-0 run. The Trojans' scored the team's first point on a kill by Alexis Hein. UALR never recovered scoring 17 points as the Red Wolves won the set on a kill. The score tied twice in set four with the lead staying in ASU's favor. The Red Wolves scored as many as five-straight points holding UALR to 16 and winning on a Trojan attack error.
Give Me Five
With three of six matches going five to begin Sun Belt play, eight of UALR's 18 matches this year have gone the distance. With still a minimum of eight matches left, UALR has already played the most five-set matches since the 2006 season (eight). After beating Austin Peay in five in the second match of the season, UALR lost the next four. That all changed in SBC play when it beat FIU, Florida Atlantic and North Texas in five sets to even its record.
The Trojan record for five-set matches in a season is 10 (2003). UALR played nine in 1999 and now five times UALR has played eight.
On the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana-Lafayette is 0-5 in matches that go the distance and has lost three matches after leading 2-0.
More Than Meets the Eye
By now, everyone is well aware of sophomore Edina Begic and the fact she leads the nation in both points (6.06) and kills (5.37) per set. But it truly takes a team effort for an individual to put up the numbers Edina currently has.
A great kill all starts with a great pass. As a team, UALR is currently second in the conference with 15.75 digs a set. Senior Emily Pepperman, the UALR career leader in digs, currently leads the team, is eighth in the conference and 175th nationally with 4.03 digs a set. Begic is second on the team while sophomore Allison Wyatt is third with 2.70 digs. Senior Daniele Souza Moura, sophomore Marleen de Zoete and freshman Tyler Davis all have multiple double-digit dig matches.
Along with a great pass, it takes a great assist. De Zoete fits the bill as she is second in the SBC and 38th in the nation with 11.07 assists per set. Earlier this year, she tied a school record and recorded the most assists in a match (71) in five years among SBC volleyball players.
Begic is not even the only Trojan hitter having a great season. Senior Eva Xie is turning in her best season of her career with 2.85 kills per set, half a kill better than her sophomore season. She has double-digit kills in 12 matches this season, including the last three. Sophomore Adisa Hodzic is third on the team with 2.24 kills per set, hitting double-digits in four of six conference matches. Even Souza Moura is turning in her best season in kills (1.52), blocks (0.90) and assists (0.88) per set.
Stepping Up In The SBC
After starting 4-8 to begin the season, UALR began conference play with five-straight wins. Both team and individual numbers are on the rise. UALR is averaging more than 14 kills per set, compared to 13.5 in non-conference. The Trojans are hitting .266 in the SBC, compared to .225 before conference play.
Individually, Edina Begic (5.58-5.33) and Eva Xie's (3.12-2.71) kill numbers are up. Both players hitting percentage is over .300 in conference play. While second in the conference overall, Marleen de Zoete leads in just SBC matches with 11.69 assists per set.