The First Serve
UALR (17-7, 9-3 Sun Belt) can clinch its third consecutive Sun Belt Conference Tournament appearance with a pair of wins this weekend. The Trojans take on ULM (5-22, 1-10) Friday night (Nov. 1) at 7 p.m. UALR concludes the weekend when it battles South Alabama (9-12, 4-7 SBC) Sunday (Nov. 3) at noon.
Cannot attend the matches this weekend? There are two ways you can follow all the action from the Jack Stephens Center. For live statistics (free), click here. For live video (subscription), you can click here.
• UALR (17-7, 9-3 Sun Belt Conference) looks to clinch a berth in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament when it takes on ULM (5-22, 1-10 SBC) on Friday (Nov. 1) at 7 p.m. and South Alabama (9-12, 4-7 SBC) on Sunday (Nov. 3) at 1 p.m.
• The Trojans have won the last 22 matches over ULM dating back to the 1992 season. UALR also has won the last 10 meetings in Little Rock, having lost the first home match to ULM (Northeast Louisiana) 3-2 at the Trojan Fieldhouse.
• In her last match at Arkansas State Wednesday (Oct. 30), junior Allison Wyatt took over at libero after the first set. She finished with 15 digs, five of which came in the fifth set.
• Junior Adisa Hodzic has double-digit kills in two of her last four matches and has six double-digit kill matches on the season.
• Freshman Kelsey Leech has started the last three matches at libero and has 47 digs in 12 sets (3.92 digs per set). She increased her digs per set average to 1.83, up from 1.46 in the first 21 matches of the year.
• After losing its first five, South Alabama has won four of its last six SBC matches.
UALR (17-7, 9-3 Sun Belt) looks to improve upon its 22-match winning streak against the Warhawks when the Trojans host ULM (5-22, 1-10) Friday night (Nov. 1) at 7 p.m.
The Warhawks comes at their opponents with a balanced attack as seven players average more than a kill per set. Hadley Swartz leads ULM with 2.49 kills per set. Blanca Ocana adds 2.25 kills per set while Hope Pawlik is third with 2.13 kills per set. Kayla Kane adds 6.69 assists per set while Marcela Araya is sixth in the SBC with 4.17 digs per set.
It will be the battle of opposites when UALR faces ULM. The Trojans are second in the conference in kills and assists (15.52 and 12.82, respectively) while the Warhawks are last in these two categories (10.87 and 10.08, respectively). ULM is seventh in aces per set while UALR is eighth, however, ULM holds a 1.10-0.98 advantage.
Losing the first match against ULM in Little Rock in 1991, UALR has won the last 10 home matches against the Warhawks.
Scouting South Alabama
While the Trojans faced a well-rested Jaguars team the first time around, it will be a different story on Sunday (Nov. 3) at 1 p.m. South Alabama (9-12, 4-7 SBC) will be playing a home match before making the journey to take on UALR (17-7, 9-3).
While South Alabama is fifth in the conference with a .206 hitting percentage, the Trojans hitter have the potential for a big match. UALR is second in the SBC with a .247 hitting percentage while the Jaguars are ninth in the conference by allowing teams to hit .216. South Alabama is fifth in the conference in kills (12.47), assists (11.58), blocks (1.91) and digs (15.02) per set.
Like ULM on Friday, South Alabama has seven players who average more than a kill per set. UALR and USA are the only teams with a pair of players in the top-5 in the conference in kills per set. Daniel Mechell leads the Jaguars and is third in the SBC with 3.65 kills per set while Jessica Mallory adds 3.33 kills per set (fifth in the SBC). Emily Hundt is seventh in the conference with 8.46 assists per set while Abby Baker is ninth in the SBC with 3.56 digs per set. Amber Wyatt is third in the SBC with 1.18 blocks per set.
Over its past six matches, USA has gone from 10th to seventh in the SBC.
Not Another Five
During the last two seasons, UALR has not gone more than four matches without playing five sets. So when the Trojans came into their match with Arkansas State (Oct. 30) having not played five sets in four matches, playing a fifth set seemed destiny.
However, the Red Wolves have a fifth set resume that compares to their rivals from Little Rock. It was UALR’s nine-match winning streak in conference play when playing five sets against ASU’s 6-0 record in 2013 when playing five sets (5-0 in SBC play). In the end, the Trojans prevailed 15-12.
In 2013, The first four matches that went the distance were in non-conference play. But UALR found itself in a familiar place on Sept. 29 in its home opener. UALR and Georgia State went to the fifth set, with the Trojans claiming a 15-12 win in the frame. The Trojans have won its last 10 SBC matches the have gone five sets. In those matches, junior Edina Begic is hitting .396 (44 kills and eight errors on 91 swings.) in the deciding set
UALR has also managed to rally from a two-set deficit twice in 2013 (at Rice Sept. 7 and against Georgia State Sept. 29). Before the year, the Trojans had not come back from down two sets since Sept. 4, 2009.
Another Week, Another Award
In a vote by the Sun Belt Conference volleyball coaches on Monday (Oct. 28), junior Edina Begic captured her sixth SBC Offensive Player of the Week honor of the season. Begic won the award after a two-week hiatus, having garnered the honor for five consecutive weeks from Sept. 9-Oct. 8.
With her sixth SBC Player of the Week award, the defending SBC Offensive Player of the Year has nine Player of the Week honors in her career.
Begic began the weekend by breaking her own school record for kills per set in a match. She had 28 kills in three sets (9.33 per set) in UALR’s straight-set victory over Troy on Oct. 25. She added 19 kills against UT Arlington on Oct. 26.
To read more, click here.
Trojan Rewind: Arkansas State
UALR found itself in familiar territory down two sets to one for the second straight year in Jonesboro, Ark., but like last year, the Trojans held strong. UALR took the final two sets and downed rival Arkansas State (11-16, 6-6 SBC) 28-26, 23-25, 11-25, 25-17, 15-12 Wednesday night (Oct. 30).
Arkansas State outhit UALR 63-58 in total kills and .202-.201 in hitting percentage, but the Trojans held strong with a 75-66 edge in digs and a 9-4 advantage on the block.
Individually, UALR was led by sophomore Sonja Milanovic’s 24 kills while junior Edina Begic added 23 spikes. Begic completed the double-double with a match-high 20 digs while freshman Kelsey Leech and junior Capri Rino had 11 digs each.
Junior Allison Wyatt, who took over at libero after the first set, provided a lift for the Trojans with five digs in the fifth set alone. She finished the match with 15 total digs, 11 of which came in the final three sets.
To read more, click here.
UALR puts its 10-match road winning streak on the line when it travels to Georgia State and Western Kentucky next weekend. The Trojans face GSU at 6 p.m. on Nov. 8 while finishes up the weekend against Western Kentucky on Nov. 10 at noon.