FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Tennessee at Martin volleyball team fell 3-0 this evening to the Arkansas Razorbacks (16-25, 18-25, 19-25) in the season-opener for both teams at Barnhill Arena.
Freshman Amanda Crask registered team-highs in kills (eight) and assists (21) for the Skyhawks, who started four freshmen tonight against the formidable Southeastern Conference opponent. Fellow freshman Shelby Hoskins tallied six kills, while Dallas Zimmerman, Kelly Hogan and Emily Keaton each amassed four kills apiece. Defensively, senior Kasey Elswick was responsible for 15 of the team’s 32 digs.
“Arkansas was very physical and we just couldn’t match them,” UT Martin head coach Darrin McClure said. “The young kids played well – I was especially impressed with Amanda. Today was a learning experience – we will get better."
In the first set, UT Martin fell behind 4-0 before a Hoskins kill made the score 7-4. The Razorbacks would stretch their lead out to nine at 15-6 but the Skyhawks clawed back for three straight points and eventually got within four points at 17-13 on yet another kill by Hoskins. However, Arkansas would end the set on a 4-1 run to take the first set by a 25-16 margin.
The freshman trio of Hoskins (three), Crask (two) and Lynsey Hazelwood accounted for six of UT Martin’s nine kills in the first set.
The Skyhawks overcame an early deficit in the second set to take leads at 4-3 and 5-4. After a kill by Hogan knotted the score at 6-all, Arkansas reeled off seven straight points until a kill by Emily Keaton made the score 13-7. UT Martin’s freshmen would keep the score close late, as Hazelwood, Zimmerman, Crask and Hoskins each notched a kill during a 4-1 Skyhawk run. However, time ran out on UT Martin’s comeback in a 25-18 loss.
The Skyhawks tallied 11 kills and hit .167 in the second set, led by five players with two apiece. Elswick snagged six digs in the set to pace the UT Martin defense.
Crask had two early kills in the third set, pulling the Skyhawks within a single point at 5-4. Crask’s third kill of the set sliced UT Martin’s deficit to 11-9, but the Razorbacks would score five of the next seven points to open up a 16-11 lead. Soon thereafter, consecutive kills by Crask and Hogan made the score 18-16 and forced Arkansas to burn a timeout. A Crask service ace kept the margin at two (20-18), but Arkansas ended the set on a 5-1 run to win 25-19.
The freshman duo of Crask (four kills, .571 attack percentage) and Zimmerman (three kills, .750) led the way for UT Martin in the third set.
UT Martin will conclude the Arkansas Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 25 with a pair of early afternoon matches. The Skyhawks will take on Kansas at 1:30 p.m., followed by a quick turnaround against Northwestern State at 4:30 p.m.