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No. 9 Hogs fend off Tigers to conclude regular season

3 days ago
Arkansas Athletics
Photo: Arkansas Athletics

Despite being down 2-1 in the match, No. 9 Arkansas found a way to battle back against the Auburn Tigers on their own court and came away with a 3-2 victory on Friday.

The match was the last in the regular season for the Hogs, and pushed their record to 25-5, 15-3 in the SEC. It's the first time since 1999 Arkansas has posted 25 regular season wins, and the Hogs can finish no lower than third in the conference after being picked fifth in the preseason coaches poll.

Four Razorbacks had double-doubles in the match: Taylor Head, Jill Gillen, Maggie Cartwright and Hannah Hogue. Head led the offense on the night with a team-high 23 kills and 17 digs, while Hogue notched a career-high 61 assists and added 12 digs.

Gillen came into the match needing just seven kills to surpass 2,000 in her career and did so easily by the second set, she now sits at 2,009 overall and is just the second Razorback ever to record 2,000 kills.

Head also reached a new milestone as she entered the program top five in career kills and now has 1,485.

Junior middle Sania Petties was a weapon both offensively and defensively for Arkansas all night as she had 14 kills on a blistering .444 hitting percentage, and also posted five blocks. Junior libero Courtney Jackson had a season-high 28 digs in the match that kept Arkansas alive at many points.

Set 1

The match was tight to start with nine ties through the media timeout at 15 points. From there, the Tigers began to roll and scored seven of the next 10 points, which put them up 21-18 and sent the Hogs to huddle. Arkansas wasn't able to forge a big enough comeback after that, and the home team used a kill to put the first away 25-21.

Set 2

The Razorbacks started the second on a 5-0 tear with three kills from Gillen and two from Cartwright, which sent Auburn to a timeout. The Tigers began to settle in and were able to cut the deficit to two, but the Hogs kept pushing right back. Auburn called time down five, but it was no use as Arkansas rattled off three straight for a 10-point edge. The Tigers got two back, but an Auburn error closed the second 25-16 in favor of Arkansas and evened the match.

Set 3

Arkansas jumped out to an early 6-3 lead off of kills from Petties and Head, which the Hogs held until midway through the set as Auburn tied it at 11-all. The teams kept it close from there, but Auburn took back the lead and extended it to three at 17-14, which forced a Razorback timeout. The Hogs managed to come within two, but the Tigers thwarted any long attempts at a rally made by Arkansas and finished it out with two straight points for a 25-19 set victory and 2-1 match advantage.

Set 4

With their backs against the wall, the Razorbacks still found themselves chasing to start until they broke through with a 6-2 run for a 10-7 lead. It didn't hold long as Auburn came back to tie it at 10-10, but the Hogs kept pushing and an error and kill by Cartwright made it 14-11 in favor of Arkansas. After a Tiger timeout, the Razorbacks kept them at bay and led by as many as five. Auburn passed the 20-point threshold with a kill and spoiled Arkansas' set point, but a kill from Head made it 25-21 and forced a deciding fifth set.

Set 5

Arkansas got the first two points of the fifth, but Auburn just as quickly answered back and took a 3-2 lead. The Hogs responded with a kill from Cartwright and got four of the next five for a 7-4 advantage that forced Auburn to call time. The Tigers then found a rhythm and suddenly it was tied 8-8 as the teams switched sides. From there, Arkansas pulled ahead five times, only for Auburn to tie it at each opportunity. At 15-15, Petties seized an opportunity and laid down her 14th kill, and an Auburn error got the two Arkansas needed to win with a 17-15 set victory and 3-2 match win.