The volleyball team (10-3) finished their nonconference schedule 10-3 after winning two of their three games at the Arkansas State Invitational Sept. 13-15.
The Sugar Bears dropped the first contest to the host Red Wolves (8-5) three sets to one. The opening set went back and forth between the teams, seeing eight ties and three lead changes with neither team gaining more than a 3-point lead.
ASU pulled away earning the match point of the first set with an 8-3 run to end the set 26-23.
They were able to carry that momentum into the second set and built a 10-6 lead. However, the Sugar Bears made a push of their own to tie the set at 11 after sophomore defensive specialist Emily Doss served an ace.
The Red Wolves returned fire later in the set and used a 4-0 run to take the set
25-18 despite UCA getting 6 kills from senior middle blocker Savanah Allen and 5 from senior outside hitter Haley Tippett.
Arkansas State took the early lead in the third set once again, but this time UCA retaliated and held on for the match point 25-19. Senior Samantha Anderson led the Sugar Bears in the set, hitting 50 percent, collecting 9 kills and scoring the final 2 points of the set.
After falling to a 23-19 deficit in the fourth set, UCA showed its capability of pulling off the comeback with a 3-1 run. However, a kill from ASU senior outside hitter Carlisa May stopped the comeback and sealed the game.
In the next contest, the Sugar Bears bounced back with a 3-0 victory over Jackson State University (1-12). It was a dominant win for UCA as they held the Lady Tigers to a hitting average below 12 percent.
The opening set was the most compelling, featuring six ties and three lead changes. After JSU took a 14-13 lead, the Sugar Bears caught fire with a 12-2 run. Senior outside hitter Kellen Dunn finished the set with 4 kills while Doss collected 9 digs.
The next two sets swayed heavily in UCA’s favor. They dominated early with a 16-7 lead and ended up hitting over 50 percent. They went on to take the set 25-11, giving UCA the 2-0 lead.
The Sugar Bears opened the third set with fire in their eyes, taking the first 9 points and building a 14-1 lead. This set up UCA for the win and helped them earn their fifth sweep of the season.
It was a hot game for Anderson, reaching a match-high 15 kills while hitting over 60 percent.
UCA’s final matchup was against Southern Illinois University (4-9). UCA delivered a host of good performances in this one: Dunn had a match-high 14 kills, with Tippett and Anderson both adding 12. Junior Elizabeth Armstrong tailed a match-high 43 assists. SIU took the first set 25-18 after capitalizing on early errors by UCA. Despite the Sugar Bears playing through those errors to retake the lead, a 10-3 run by SIU would be too much to overcome.
The second set was neck-and-neck opening with four lead changes and five ties. After a 6-6 tie, 2 straight service aces from redshirt freshman Ravin Rhodes sparked a 5-0 run for the Sugar Bears.
SIU responded by trimming the lead to three, but again UCA held on to their advantage by running off another 5-0 stint. An error from SIU sophomore Maggie Nedoma gave UCA the match point and tied the game 1-1.
Errors would cost SIU again in the third set after taking a 10-9 early lead. After a 4-0 run from UCA, two straight errors assisted the Sugar Bears in building an 18-13 lead. Later in the set, a pair of kills from Dunn and Anderson gave UCA the match point with a final score of 25-20.
The fourth and final set began in back-and-forth fashion like the others, but three straight attack errors from SIU pushed the UCA lead to 13-9. The Salukis were unable to get any closer as the Sugar Bears used a 9-4 run to end the set and the match, including 3 straight kills from Anderson.
The Sugar Bears will return to action Sept. 22, begining conference play at Stephen F. Austin University (13-2) and looking to stop their 10-game winning streak.