STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Razorback volleyball team found itself down two sets early in Saturday's match at Mississippi State, but clutch performances across the lineup and a kill by sophomore, Jillian Gillen helped Arkansas secure the comeback win in five-sets. The Hogs return to Fayetteville sweeping State in the opening series of the season.
- Liz Pamphile 17 kills (.517 hitting %), nine blocks
- Jillian Gillen 16 kills, 15 digs
- Taylor Head 13 kills, 20 digs
- Gracie Ryan 58 assists, 20 digs
The Turning Point
Trailing the Bulldogs by two sets, the Razorbacks sparked a rally late in the third set to tie the score at 23 points apiece. Mississippi State would see five match points taken away by Arkansas had a response to each Bulldog attack. The Razorbacks took their first lead of the set with a Hailey Dirrigl kill, now ahead of State, 30-29 and facing their own set point. A Mississippi State overpass would come within reach of Pamphile and she slammed it down to give Arkansas the set win, starting the Hogs comeback journey.
The fourth and fifth sets were both battles for the Hogs, coming down to the final points of each set. Tied at 23 points each, it would be Pamphile again who would step up for Arkansas, earning the kill off the assist from Ryan and giving the Razorbacks a 24-23 lead. On the next play, libero Lauren Evans would set freshman Head for the attack and her kill would put Arkansas one set closer to victory.
It was Mississippi State that stormed out to a lead in the fifth set, leading 10-8 after a Razorback attack error and successful Bulldog attack, but the Hogs continue to battle, never letting Mississippi State maintain control of the set. After Pamphile tied the score at 13-13 with a kill and assist from Ryan, Gillen fired off back-to-back kills to secure the win for the Razorbacks.
Hear from the Hogs
"Today's win was big for us," said junior setter Gracie Ryan. "We didn't have the most consistent game today and we recognized that, but this won't be the last time we face a five-set adversity in the SEC so it was important for us to keep digging deep and prepping ourselves to fight more five-set games such as this one. In the high-pressured moments, we remained really stoic which carried us all the way to the end."
"Today was not my best day, but I am so happy to have this gritty group of girls behind me," said sophomore Jillian Gillen. "This team is extremely supportive of one another and I think that's really special. To be able to fight through that third set with the game on the line after starting off slow is a big deal. I'm so proud of the team we will become this year. This is only the beginning and we have more to give!"
"Road wins are tough," head volleyball coach Jason Watson said. "I am so proud of our team for finding a way. We have work to do and now we get a bye week to do just that, I feel we have a lot more room for improvement over the length of the season and I'm excited to see how we grow week after week."