MOBILE, Ala. – UALR junior Edina Begic became the first player with 30+ kills in a four set match for the second year in a row as UALR (9-4, 1-0 Sun Belt) fought off South Alabama (5-6, 0-1 SBC) 25-23, 18-25, 25-21, 27-25 Friday night (Sept. 27) in the conference opener for both teams.
UALR improves to 14-9 all-time in its first SBC match of the season.
South Alabama threatened to push the game to five sets when it was holding a 23-20 lead in the fourth. Begic put herself on serve with a kill, followed by a solo block and kill by sophomore Sonja Milanovic that tied the set at 23. Another Milanovic kill put the Trojans on set point, but kills from USA’s Mechell Daniel and Deanna Canfield put the home team on set point. Begic tied the match at 25 on her 31st and final kill of the match. A solo block by redshirt freshman Carolee Dillard gave UALR another set point in did not waste as a Milanovic spike ended the thrilling frame and match.
Both teams had 60 kills in the match, but UALR was able to get an edge on defense 58-56 on digs and 8-5 in blocks. The Trojans also outhit the Jaguars .273-.248.
Begic began the night with 11 kills in the first set en route to 31 kills for the match. Combined with nine errors on 63 swings, she hit .349. Begic completed her eighth double-double of the season with a team-best 12 digs.
Junior Marleen de Zoete added 50 assists and three kills on nine attacks with no errors. She is hitting .464 her last four matches (13 kills and no errors on 28 attempts). Milanovic had four kills while freshman Kelsey Leech tied Begic with 12 digs. Junior Allison Wyatt contributed 11 digs.
Daniel led USA with 20 kills while Mallory Moore chipped in 14 spikes. Emily Hundt recorded the double-double with 42 assists and 14 digs. Abby Baker had a match best 20 digs.
The Trojans trailed by three on numerous occasions but hung around and surpassed South Alabama by the end of set one. USA led 19-17 when the Trojans tied it up with a de Zoete kill and a South Alabama error. Both teams traded points before UALR was able to break the Jaguars on a junior Adisa Hodzic-Begic block and a Begic kill. South Alabama was able to save one set point before a Milanovic kill ended the frame. Begic had 11 kills in the set while Dillard recorded kills on both attack attempts.
Set two saw South Alabama answer back. USA held a slim 16-15 lead until a 7-0 run by the home team all but tied the match. Moore put Daniel on serve with a kill before a pair of spikes by Amber Wyatt put USA up four. Canfield added a pair of kills and two errors by UALR put South Alabama up 23-15. Moore ended the frame with a kill as USA won by seven. South Alabama had its best hitting set of the match with 17 kills and only one error on 29 attempts (.552 hitting percentage).
UALR fell behind three early in the third set but took control thanks to de Zoete’s overhand serve. The home team clung to an 11-9 lead but put de Zoete on serve with an attack error. De Zoete tied the match on an ace and an attack error by the Jaguars and a kill put UALR up 13-11. The Trojans were able to score a point on 5-of-6 of the final scoring rotations and went on set point at 24-19. USA saved two set points, but a Jaguars error ended the third set to set up a thrilling final frame.
UALR returns to action Sunday (Sept. 29) at noon when it hosts Georgia State (5-10, 0-1 SBC). First serve against the Panthers is set for noon. Georgia State lost to Arkansas State in five sets Friday night.