UALR Travels to Rival Red Wolves in Critical SBC West Tilt
Courtesy: UALR Sports Information
          Release: 10/26/2012
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First Serve

UALR (10-12, 6-4 Sun Belt) starts a critical four-game stretch in Sun Belt West play when it travels to rival Arkansas State (16-10, 6-4 SBC) Sunday (Oct. 28) at 2 p.m. The winner retains a one-match lead in SBC West play with three conference matches to play. Live stats will be available by going to the UALR schedule page.

The Trojans trail the Red Wolves 46-15 in the all-time series, but UALR did claim a win in one of the biggest matches between the two squads in Jonesboro, Ark. In the 1996 Sun Belt Conference Tournament Final, the Trojans avenged a straight-set defeat earlier in the season at the hands of ASU with a 15-9, 12-15, 15-10, 16-14 victory on Arkansas State's home court. The win awarded the Trojans its first NCAA tournament appearance, a feat they would repeat three times in the next four years.

The contest is the only one on the week for the Trojans as they host Louisiana-Lafayette for senior night next Sunday (Oct. 4) before finishing up on the road at ULM (Oct. 9) and at North Texas (Oct. 11).


Scouting Arkansas State

The two teams that were the toast of Sun Belt Conference volleyball in the 90's (ASU and UALR combined for eight of the 10 SBC Tournament Championships that decade) square off in what may be the most important meeting in years. The winner leads the Sun Belt West and will at minimum have a magic number of one in order to clinch a spot in the 2012 SBC tournament.

Both teams enter Sundays match neck and neck in terms of stats.  UALR holds the slight edge in hitting percentage (.227-.208), blocks (2.06 per set to 1.92) and digs (15.51 per set to 15.01). However, Arkansas State holds minor edges in assists per set (12.97-12.73), kills per set (13.89-13.35) and opponent hitting percentage (.208-.235). In the first meeting (Oct. 16) with virtually all stats equal, the Red Wolves gained an advantage in kills (48-34), off the dig (58-48) and in attack percentage (.298-.128).

Individually, UALR must neutralize a potent front line of the Red Wolves where four different players average more than two kills a set. Senior outside hitter Jasmine Terry leads the team and is sixth in the Sun Belt with 3.56 kills per set. Terry will get her swings but easily leads the team in attack errors (180) and does not have a high attack percentage (.166). She only had eight kills in the first meeting. The challenge with be to hold off a pair of seniors in middle Kelsie Hodges and setter Allison Kearney. Kearney leads the with a .343 hitting percentage and had six kills and only one error on 12 swings (.417) earlier this month against the Trojans. Hodges, who is third in the conference with a .336 average, was even more potent with 12 kills and only one error on 20 swings (.450) against UALR.

Kearney leads the team and is second in the conference with 11.02 assists per set. Junior libero Megan Baska is fifth in the conference with 4.34 digs per set.


Last Time against Arkansas State

LITTLE ROCK - UALR could not overcome a big deficit in set one and big Red Wolves' service rallies in sets two and three gave Arkansas State the 25-22, 25-19, 25-17 win over the Trojans Tuesday Night (Oct. 16) at the Jack Stephens Center.

For the match, UALR was outhit .298-.128 and outdug 58-48. The Trojans did win the battle of the block 7-6.

UALR sophomore Edina Begic registered another double-double with 13 kills and 11 digs while senior Daniele Souza Moura added a team-high 12 digs. Sophomore Adisa Hodzic contributed nine kills and six blocks.

Arkansas State's Allison Kearney added her own double-double with 40 assists and 10 digs while Kelsie Hodges registered 12 kills. Megan Baska added a match-high 17 digs.

UALR trailed 15-9 in the first set before going on a 7-2 spurt to pull within one.  Begic registered a pair of kills to start the run before ASU answered back to stop Souza Moura's serve. A Hodzic kill and an Arkansas State error cut the deficit by one more before another side out made it 17-13. An error put Begic on serve and an ace and another Red Wolves' error cut the deficit to one. The visitors called timeout before Begic erred on her serve coupled with three more ASU points made it 21-16.

The Trojans put together one last rally for the set, but a costly error stopped the momentum. Down 22-17, Souza Moura got a kill and a solo block brought the home team within three. UALR looked as if it won the next point but after a lengthy discussion the Trojans were called for being out of rotation. ASU went on to win the set by three.

Set two stood tied at three before Arkansas State tallied a point on its next four serves before UALR forced a side out. The Red Wolves capped the 8-3 run with an ace. The Trojans cut it to 14-11, but ASU answered with a 4-0 run to take control. ASU captured the set by six.

UALR took a 12-9 lead in the third, but the Red Wolves went on a 12-0 run on Shelby Crncic's serve and went on to record the straight-set sweep.


Moving On Up

A trio of Trojans have their eyes on the career record book, including a pair of sophomores.

Having broken the record her junior season, senior Emily Pepperman has 1,566 digs for her career and moved into the top five in the Sun Belt record book (rally scoring). With 330 digs this year, she is 28 digs away from reaching the top-10 in single-season digs all four years at UALR.

Sophomore Edina Begic has 891 kills for her career and 459 this season. Through nine less matches than in 2011, she has surpassed last year's total of 432. She is 105 less than the single-season record and if she averages more than 26 kills over the final four matches, she will eclipse the mark of 564 kills by Ivana Vracar in 2003 (30 matches).

Sophomore Marleen de Zoete is eighth with 1,812 career assists and only need 39 more this season to reach the top 10 in the single-season annals.


I'm Going Home

Despite being only two hours from her hometown of Jonesboro, sophomore Allison Wyatt only gets to go home once during that season. Unfortunately for her, it is only for a few hours and it is to play volleyball when rivals UALR and Arkansas State meet up for their annual contest at the Convocation Center.

You can read more about Wyatt by going to the UALR Forum by clicking here.

The Compton Coaching Tree

When you have coached at an institution for 25 years, there is no shortage of good players that come through a program and later become head coaches. However, head coach Van Compton may be able to lay claim to one of the best former player/assistant in the country in Danijela Tomic.

After playing for the Trojans for the 1995 and '96 seasons (earning Second Team All-SBC honors both years), she was an assistant coach for UALR from 1997-2002. After a short stint as an assistant at LSU, she took over the reins at FIU and took the Golden Panthers from SBC cellar dweller to one of the best teams in the conference. 

During her seven year stint with FIU, Tomic's squads claimed two regular season SBC Championships and NCAA appearances in 2008 and 2009. Tomic herself claimed SBC Coach of the Year honors in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Having moved on to Bowling Green after the 2011 season, she is making waves in her first season in the Mid-American Conference. With a 14-8 overall record and 9-1 MAC mark, the Falcons and Ohio are tied atop the conference standings. As luck would have it, Ohio hosts Bowling Green Saturday.


Give Me Five

With four of 10 SBC matches going five sets, nine of UALR's 22 matches this year have gone the distance. With still a minimum of four matches left, UALR has already played the most five-set matches since the 2003 season.

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 in three of the first four SBC matches to even its record. With its thrilling 3-2 win over Middle Tennessee Friday (Oct. 19), UALR moves back above .500 in said matches since the first day of the season.

The Trojan record for five-set matches in a season is 10 in 2003 (9-1). UALR played nine in 1999. Arkansas State has only gone the distance once and beat Southeast Missouri State on Oct. 2.


(Service) Runs Aplenty

UALR service runs have come at critical times to help win sets. In fact, the Trojans have won five or more points on their serve nine different times in Sun Belt play. Not only have UALR won all those matches, it would go on to win every one of those sets. In every SBC win except North Texas, a Trojan has had a service rally of at least five points in some set.

The largest service run came from sophomore Marleen de Zoete in the fifth set against FIU (Sept. 21). Tied 2-2, de Zoete delivered nine straight points. The last five all came off the attack of classmate Edina Begic. She followed that up two days later against Florida Atlantic to help UALR stage a comeback and win the crucial third set. She helped turn a 12-8 deficit into a 13-12 lead for UALR. de Zoete also accomplished a six-point rally in the sixth set against South Alabama.

Tied with de Zoete is senior Emily Pepperman with three such rallies. She did it twice against FIU, helping UALR out to 7-0 and 6-0 leads, respectively, in the first and third sets. She also did it in the fourth against South Alabama (Oct. 5).

Sophomore Allison Wyatt waited until the ninth SBC match to accomplish this feat twice but was it ever big. With the second set tied at 16 against Middle Tennessee and UALR down by a frame, Wyatt helped deliver six points on her serve. She followed that up with five points in the fourth. While not five points, she came up big against North Texas (Sept. 29) with four-straight points to help UALR turn a 7-6 deficit into a 10-7 lead in the fifth.

Begic has one five-point service rally in the third set against ULM. She helped slam the door against the Warhawks by turning a 16-10 lead into a dominating 21-10 advantage.


Next Up

UALR finishes out the home schedule with a critical SBC West showdown against Louisiana-Lafayette next Sunday (Nov. 4) at 2 p.m. at the Jack Stephens Center. Following the match, the Trojans like to commemorate the accomplishments of a great senior class that consists of Emily Pepperman, Sawyer Schaedig, Daniele Souza Moura and Eva Xie.

Full Arkansas State Notes Full Arkansas State Notes
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