Arkansas hosted the Arkansas Challenge this week with ACC foes GeorgiaTech and NC State going 2-0 defeating both opponents in four sets 3-1.
The Razorbacks notched their second top ten opponent of the season and wanted to prove the win over Washington wasn’t a fluke and they did not disappoint with a 3-1 win over No. 7 Georgia Tech. This was the first ranked win over another ranked team in over 20 years. Arkansas then followed up the performance with another 3-1 win over NC State.
The Razorbacks coming into Thursday’s matchup against the Yellowjackets were riding a six game sweep streak and knew it would be a tall task to win the match much less sweep, but Arkansas came in on a mission and behind the efforts of Jill Gillen and Hailey Dirrigl took down No. 7 Georgia Tech in four sets ending their sweep streak.
Gillen lead the team with 18 kills and 12 digs giving Jill her first double double of the year. Dirrigl added 12 kills and had a .423 hit percentage leading the team in that category. Arkansas had four key blocks and Hannah Hogue led the team with 18 digs.
Arkansas set the tone early in set one taking a 10 point lead 20-10 and Tech couldnt get any closer than seven and Arkansas took the first set 25-16. The second set was a back n forth battle but Tech went on a 6-1 run and pushed the lead to 12-7 Arkansas couldnt get the lead back giving them the set 25-23. Arkansas quickly took back the mometum with a 4-1 run but the Yellowjackets sent on a run of their own taking a 15-12 lead. Taylor Head led the charge of four straight kills to give Arkansas a 21-19 lead and went on to win the set 25-22 after a Cartwright set point. The final set of the match the Razorbacks werent going to be denied as they raced out to a 20-11 lead and staved off a huge Tech run to win 25-20.
Coach Watson after the game (credit Paul Boyd) “Its been nice. T (Taylor) has been carrying us a little bit. I thought Jill was very good tonight and I thought Maggie and Hailey Dirrigl was unbelievable. She had to take some big swings against 17 (Bergman) who is a really, really good volleyball player. We had to run points when she was in the back row knowing they were going to run points when she was in the front. it became a little bit of a rotation deal. I thought we gave ourselves a lead in the fourth but when she came back we gave up some points because she’s just that good. I thought the gap was just too big that we could hang on there.”
Watson went on to say “ Im happy for the kids who have been in this program for a long time. They’ve weathered the some storms and had to go through some stuff and kept coming back and playing and I’m so proud of them. I think what we can take is it’s another significant win. We’re just going to keep talking about significant wins, significant wins, significant wins because that’s what was hammered over us last year”
After another 3-1 win over NC State on Friday evening Arkansas gets ready for SEC play as they go on the road Wednesday to play LSU before coming back to Barnhill on Saturday to face Ole miss. The Razorbacks move to 9-1 on the season and look to keep climbing in the rankings next week.