Volleyball tops Arkansas

TUSCALOOSA -- The Alabama volleyball posted a hard-fought and impressive 3-1 Southeastern Conference victory over Arkansas in the squad's regular season finale on Sunday afternoon. With the win the Crimson Tide earned its 20th win of the season and 10th SEC victory of the year marking the second season in a row that Alabama has accomplished those feats.

Alabama improved to 20-7 overall and 10-5 in SEC play with the 22-30, 30-25, 30-25, 30-25 win over the SEC Western Division champion Lady Razorbacks (18-10, 12-3). The victory was also just Bama's second in the all-time series with Arkansas.

"I was most impressed with the way we bounced back after such a disappointing showing on Friday night," said UA head coach Judy Green. "I thought today we just played hard and determined and our players made the plays they needed to for us to win. I hope that his gives our players the confidence they need to realize how good a team we are. The key to our victory was our passing and serving. I also can't say enough about the play of Erin Heffner. She was a monster on the court. This is a huge win as we head into the SEC Tournament and the start of our postseason play."

Erin Heffner, a freshman from Ft. Wayne, Ind., and the current SEC Player of the Week, lived up to her billing as she finished the match with a career-best 26 kills to lead a potent Tide offense that clicked at a .297 pace. Sophomore Jennifer Bibber joined Heffner in the 20-kill club pounding out 23 in the match.

The entire match was evenly contested with the largest lead for either team being Arkansas' game one eight-point victory margin. Both teams played at a high level on both sides of the net with the Lady 'Backs hitting .313 for the match with 58 kills. Alabama finished with 72 kills and earned a 54-43 win in the dig category. Arkansas held a 13-6 margin in total blocks but Bama countered the Lady Razorbacks strong net play with aggressive serving.

Arkansas got out of the blocks first in game one opening up a five-point lead at 10-5. The Lady Razorbacks maintained that margin for much of the frame as the Tide struggled to find an offensive flow. The Tide trimmed to Arkansas lead to just three points at 20-17 but the Lady 'Backs connected for 16 kills with just two errors en route to the game won victory.

Alabama fell behind again early in the second stanza but quickly fought back to earn its first lead of the contest. A five-point spurt by the Tide sparked a surge of confidence and Alabama would never give back the lead in the second game. UA lead by as many as seven points late in the game before Arkansas charged back but the Tide proved to strong earning the victory and squaring the match a one game apiece.

Game three was a highly competitive frame with both squads seeming to grab hold of the momentum at different times. Arkansas held a five-point lead at 15-10 but the Tide rallied to knot the score at 20 before the pair settled into a side-out battle for several possessions. With the score tied at 25, Alabama ran off the final five points behind a pair of aces by Erin Price to capture the game victory and take a 2-1 lead in the match.

The Crimson Tide and Lady Razorbacks treated the fans to a clinic on high-powered offensive volleyball in the fourth game as both squad's attacked at over a .300 clip. Bama hit .333 in the contest while Arkansas operated at a .400 pace. The difference in the match was Alabama's ability to score from the service line where the Tide posted five aces in the game. Shelly Adamcik's aggressive serving sparked a five-point run by UA late in the game as the Tide held on for the important victory over a nationally-recognized program.

In addition to Bibber and Heffner's play, Erin Price finished the match with 15 kills, four aces, 11 digs and two blocks. Heffner earned her 12th double-double of the season with her team-high 12 digs. Kenna Milner also tallied double-digit digs with 11. Setter Bridget Studnicka ran the Tide's offensive plan to near perfection getting the Bama outside hitters in great spots to score.

The Crimson Tide now heads into its first postseason action of the year at the 2001 SEC Volleyball Tournament. The SEC Championship is being held in Knoxville, Tenn. It begins on Friday, Nov. 16 and the Tide (#5 seed) will meet #4 seed LSU at 4:30 p.m. ET in the opening round. The match marks the third meeting of the season for the Tide and Tigers. Alabama will look to avenge a pair of regular season losses to LSU.

                       G1 G2 G3 G4
Alabama (20-7, 10-5)   22 30 30 30
Arkansas (18-10, 12-3) 30 25 25 25

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