TROY, Ala. – UALR (20-11) used a 12-0 run in the first set and held on for the win in the third, but Arkansas State (15-19) bounced back for the 12-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-21, 15-7 win Thursday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
The Trojans trailed 7-5 in the first set before a 12-0 run – 11 points off of junior Edina Begic’s serve – all but finished the set. Begic put herself on serve with a kill, and an ace and three Arkansas State errors put the Trojans up 10-7. Two kills by freshman Carolee Dillard, a block by Dillard and sophomore Sonja Milanovic and another ace put UALR up 17-7. It was the second-longest service run of the season, second only to Milanovic’s 12 points in the third set against La Salle on Sept. 21.
An attack error gave UALR the 13-point set win. Dillard had four kills on five attacks with no errors (.800 hitting percentage) in the first set alone.
For the match, Dillard had seven blocks while Milanovic closed out the season with a double-double 19 kills and a team-best 13 digs. Begic, who already holds the single-season record for kills, had 15 kills for the match to run her total to 634 spikes for the year.
UALR led set two 13-11 before a 5-1 run by the Red Wolves put Arkansas State up for good in the set and tied the match. The Trojans were called for being out of rotation and a Trojans error tied the set. Begic put UALR up one before a Kelsey Reis kill retied the frame. A service error put ASU up as the Red Wolves went on to win the set 25-19.
Set three saw UALR recapture the momentum coming out of the break. Holding a slim 14-13 lead, a Begic slam put junior Marleen de Zoete on serve. Dillard’s lone solo block and a kill from freshman Rachel Williams put the Trojans up 17-14. UALR held its three-point margin for the third-set win.
Williams tallied her lone double-digit match of the season with 11 kills while de Zoete ended her career with 52 assists in the match. She ends her career as the UALR leader in assists with 3,433.
Set four saw the Trojans fall behind 12-5 before scoring six unanswered. An ASU error put freshman Kelsey Leech on serve. A block by Milanovic and junior Adisa Hodzic, followed by a pair of kills by Milanovic forced an ASU timeout. An Arkansas State error and Hodzic kill brought the Trojans within one, but UALR could not climb any closer as a 25-22 set loss sent the match to the fifth.
The Red Wolves began the last set with three kills and never looked back, taking the finale by eight.
UALR managed to outhit its rivals .252-.219 and outblocked the Red Wolves 12-8, but Arkansas State answered back with a 57-56 edge in digs. Sadie Clark led ASU with 15 kills while Megan Baska finished with 21 digs.
Besides Begic breaking the single-season record for kills, de Zoete and Dillard also left their marks in the season annals. Dillard finished eighth in solo blocks (35), second in assisted blocks (125) and second in total blocks (160). De Zoete finished second with 1,376 assists in 2013, just 40 off of Sanda Dzile’s mark in 2006.
Milanovic finished the season with 494 kills, the sixth-most in UALR volleyball history.