KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The 21st-ranked Tennessee Lady Vol volleyball team defeated Arkansas (31-33, 25-19, 25-21, 25-14) in a four-set showdown Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tennessee's (9-2, 1-0 SEC) defense shut down Arkansas (10-2, 1-1 SEC) as it limited the Hogs to a .087 hitting percentage and had 21 total blocks as a team. UT's 21 blocks are tied for the fifth-most in program history during the rally-scoring era.
Natalie Hayward played brilliantly for the Lady Vols in the victory, recording nine kills, 38 assists and a career-best 19 digs. Hayward also hit a career-high .750.
Breana Runnels led Tennessee with 15 kills, while Ava Bell recorded 11 of her own.
The defense was led by Danielle Mahaffey who set a career-high with 12 total blocks. Morgahn Fingall also set a new career-high in blocks as she finished with nine.
Madison Bryant recorded a team-high 22 digs in the victory.
In a back-and-forth first set, Arkansas outlasted Tennessee, winning 33-31. The Lady Vols' offense struggled to get going in the first, committing 11 attack errors and hitting just .052. UT tallied eight blocks in the set to keep themselves alive.
Arkansas' Jillian Gillen totaled seven kills in the opening set and scored the final kill that won the first for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas quickly jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the second set, but Tennessee fought back and rallied to win the set 25-19. Tennessee stifled the Razorbacks attack, holding them to a .051 hitting percentage.
UT earned another five blocks in the set, while Runnels and Bell each tallied four kills to lead the Lady Vols to the second set win.
The Orange & White prevailed in the third set, beating the Hogs 25-21 behind another four kills from Runnels and Bell and six blocks.
Hayward notched five of her nine kills in the fourth set as she led UT to a 25-14 victory in the match-clinching set. Tennessee hit a blistering .500 and held the Razorbacks to a .033 hitting percentage in the final set.
Tennessee returns to the court Sunday to close out its two-match series against Arkansas. First serve is set for noon ET. The match can also be seen on SEC Network.
Kills - Breana Runnels (15)
Assists - Natalie Hayward (38)
Digs - Madison Bryant (22)
Blocks - Danielle Mahaffey (12)