LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Junior setter Marleen de Zoete broke the Trojans school record for assists in the first set, but UALR (15-5, 7-1) lost to Western Kentucky (17-5, 7-1 Sun Belt) 28-26, 25-20, 25-21 Friday night (Oct. 18) at the Jack Stephens Center.
With UALR trailing 22-21 in the first set, de Zoete’s set found classmate Edina Begic to knot a tight first frame. Her 11th assist of the set put her ahead of former Trojan Iva Adzic (2,924 assists, 2002-2005).
The Trojans managed to outhit Western Kentucky .300-.275 in the first, but the Hilltoppers ended the match out-slugging UALR .274-.214. WKU also recorded 53 kills compared to 40 for the home team. UALR won the battle of the block 12-6.
UALR was led by sophomore Sonja Milanovic’s 12 kills while Begic added 11 and a team best seven digs. Sophomore Adisa Hodzic had seven kills and only one error on 13 swings (.462 hitting percentage) while de Zoete finished the match with 34 assists.
Western Kentucky had a trio of players reach double-digit kills with Paige Wessel hitting 14 kills on 27 swings with four errors (.370) while Heather Boyan added 13 kills and only three errors on 22 swings (.455 hitting percentage). Melanie Stutzman had a match best 44 assists and four kills on six swings for a match high .667 percentage. Ashley Potts tallied for 14 digs.
Western Kentucky scored the first three points of the match on kills by Janee’ Diggins and Boyan. With UALR trailing 8-6, Milanovic found the court on an attack followed by a pair of Trojan assisted blocks (Dillard-de Zoete and Milanovic-Dillard) to give UALR its first lead of the night. Both teams never led by two the rest of the set. A Stutsman ace and Wessel kill put WKU up 21-19 and UALR called a timeout.
Out of the break, Stutsman served into the net and a Milanovic kill tied the set at 21. Both teams sided out before a kill from freshman Rachel Williams put UALR back up 23-22. Tied at 24, junior Allison Wyatt dug out the serve but everyone overran the ball as Western Kentucky got its first set point. Two Trojan attack errors gave WKU the first set 28-26.
Set two started fast for UALR. Begic and de Zoete wrapped kills around a Western Kentucky attack error to go up 3-0. A pair of assisted blocks by Dillard-Begic and de Zoete-Dillard put UALR up five before WKU even scored a point. A Wessel kill stopped the runs, but a Begic kill and solo block, coupled with a Western Kentucky error put the Trojans up 8-1 and forced the visitors’ second timeout.
Down 16-11, Western Kentucky responded with eight unanswered to take the lead in the set for good. Wyatt hit a service error and a Noelle Langenkamp kill and WKU block cut the lead to 16-14 and forced a UALR timeout. A Kaelin Grimes ace and another Hilltopper block tied the set. Kills by Wessel and Lagenkamp around a Begic error put WKU up 19-16. The Hilltoppers took the set by five.
UALR fell behind 15-10 in set three before a 5-1 run put the Trojans down one in the third set. Williams started the UALR rally with a kill and a pair of de Zoete-Dillard assisted blocks cut the deficit to two. Haley Bodway stopped the run with a kill for WKU, but UALR responded with a Dillard kill and a Western Kentucky miscue to pull within 16-15. Western Kentucky scored the next four points and never trailed by less than three en route to a 25-21 set win.
UALR returns to action Sunday when it hosts Louisiana at noon. The Ragin’ Cajuns improved to 14-8 and 4-4 in conference action thanks to a 3-2 win over Georgia State Friday night.