UTA volleyball falls in penultimate home match of 2019 season

Senior middle blocker Madison Hill spikes the ball during the match against Arkansas State University on Nov. 8 at College Park Center. Hill scored 15 points and recorded three blocks.

The volleyball team (15-11, 7-7) fell 3-2 to Arkansas State University on Friday at College Park Center.

Coming into the match, UTA was on a four-match winning streak with road wins in the Carolinas and Louisiana.

The loss evens out the Mavericks’ conference record and leaves UTA with two must-win matches in the next week to secure a top-eight seed at the Sun Belt Volleyball Championship tournament.

Head coach J.T. Wenger said the result was disappointing given how the stats and play favored UTA for the most part, but the five sets were a lesson for the team.

“It’s a match that we can feel good about the way we played,” he said. “We just gotta figure out how to grind out some more points at the right time.”

Statistically, UTA was superior in many areas. The Mavericks tallied 65 kills, one more than Arkansas State, and had a better hitting percentage, with 0.293% to the Red Wolves' 0.238%. UTA also shared the ball more, tallying 63 assists, seven more than Arkansas State.

Sophomore outside hitter Brooke Townsend said despite the numbers favoring UTA, it came down to the little things that went wrong for the Mavericks.

“We kind of got more scared and more timid towards the end,” she said. “We just need to remember to stay more aggressive and know that every little point matters, no matter how big of a lead we have.”

Two middle blockers, senior Madison Hill and sophomore Bre Walp, led UTA in kills, tallying 15 apiece, with Townsend notching 11 and senior outside hitter Petra Manderson hitting 10.

Two early points by Arkansas State were quickly negated by UTA as the set became a battled affair. The Red Wolves then took an 11-7 lead following some big kills, forcing the Mavericks to start playing catch-up.

Important kills from Hill helped UTA make it a one-point game at 17-16. Hill would hit seven kills in eight attacks in the set before Arkansas State ended on an 8-2 run to win the set 25-18.

UTA reacted swiftly from the first serve of the second set, taking a 10-5 lead. That cushion gave the Mavericks breathing room and allowed them to barrel down more kills, which the Red Wolves couldn’t handle as UTA won the set 25-15.

The third set started as another competitive outing, and neither team was able to pull more than three points clear. The Mavericks were able to find an outlet to give them a 16-12 lead and would go on to take the set 25-16.

With the match slipping away from them, Arkansas State came out with a 13-8 lead to put UTA on edge. With the Mavericks right on their heels, the Red Wolves took the spoils on a big rally to prevent a tied game and led 15-13.

It kept momentum in their favor as they claimed the set 25-22 and tied the match 2-2.

The fifth set became a grudge match of who could outlast the other, and Arkansas State came out on top 15-13.

UTA will return to its home court one final time this season to face the University of Arkansas at Little Rock at noon Sunday at College Park Center. The Mavericks’ final regular-season conference game will be played at Texas State University at 6:30 p.m. next Friday in San Marcos.



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