No. 16 Arkansas opened the Red Storm Invitational Friday with two wins over host St. John's and Buffalo. The Hogs swept the Bulls in the first match of the day and dropped just one set to St. John's in the 3-1 nightcap victory.
The day was highlighted with graduate outside hitter Maggie Cartwright's performance in the first match. She racked up double-digit kills against Buffalo and registered the 1,000th of her career, the 19th Razorback in program history to achieve the feat.
Arkansas put up 17 blocks total over the two matches and had 16 service aces to seven by Buffalo and St. John's. Junior middle blocker Zoi Evans led the Arkansas defense with 11 blocks on the day, which included two solos in each match and a career high eight in the St. John's match. Graduate outside hitter Jill Gillen had seven of Arkansas' 16 aces and is now 10 away from the program career record of 160.
The match began back-and-forth, but St. John's broke through with a five-point run that gave the Johnnies an 11-7 lead in the first set. Arkansas called time and cut the deficit to two, but the Red Storm strong together five to push the advantage to 19-12 and the Hogs huddled again. Arkansas kept chasing but couldn't make up enough points and the home team took set one, 25-19.
The Razorbacks found themselves playing from behind again in the second set, they found a way to lock in and assembled a stunning 11-1 run that featured two aces from Gillen for a 19-11 lead. The teams traded points for a bit after that, but the Red Storm ran out of time. A St. John's attack error handed set point to the Hogs and a kill by Cartwright finished it 25-16 and tied the match 1-1.
Despite five straight points from St. John's to start the third, Arkansas recovered and quickly cut the deficit to two. The Johnnies kept the Razorbacks at bay but ran into four straight errors that tied it at 11-11.The Red Storm briefly grabbed the lead back, but Arkansas added five, which included two aces from Hannah Hogue, and went up 16-13. The Johnnies stayed persistent, but an 8-1 run, finished with a St. John's attack error, pushed the set to 25-17 and put Arkansas up in the match.
The home team didn't go quietly and there were nine ties midway through the set. The Red Storm began to pull away with a three-point streak, but Arkansas answered back with one of its own for a 15-14 edge. It stayed close and the score was tied another five times after that, which sent the Hogs to a timeout. Four straight points, spurred by two kills from Gillen, pushed it to set point for Arkansas, and while the Johnnies got one back, an attack error gave the Razorbacks the 25-21 set victory and 3-1 match win.
The Bulls kept things close to start, but the Hog offense quickly found their rhythm and Cartwright alone rattled off five kills early and Head had back-to-back aces for a 14-7 lead. Cartwright also pushed the Hogs to 20 points, which sent Buffalo to a timeout down by nine. Cartwright slammed down another immediately after, the 1,000th of her career, and the Hogs carried the momentum all the way through for a 25-14 set victory.
Buffalo settled in a bit in the second set and used a five-point run for a 10-9 lead. The teams traded four-point streaks shortly after, which gave the Bulls the lead again at 15-14. It didn't last long as the Razorbacks added three, and Buffalo huddled. The Hogs led by as many as seven, and while the Bulls briefly regrouped after a timeout, kills from Taylor Head and Sania Petties put the set away 25-19.
The Bulls didn't trail by more than three early in the third set, but a 7-1 run quickly shifted all the momentum the way of the Razorbacks and they led 19-11. Buffalo cut the deficit to six points but couldn't get much else going. Bulls attack errors bookended another four-point streak for the Hogs, and brought up set and match point. Buffalo got one back, but Gillen slammed a kill down to end it 25-15 and secured the sweep.
Arkansas closes non-conference play with the team's final match of the Red Storm Invitational against Bryant at 1 p.m. CT from Queens.