In its return home, the volleyball team (8-5, 3-1) picked up a pair of nail-biting fifth-set victories over the weekend at College Park Center.
Match No. 1: UTA 3, Arkansas State University 2
In the opening minutes of the first set, the Mavericks took an early lead over the Red Wolves with a 5-1 run. The Red Wolves responded with a run of their own to tie the set at 7-7.
As both teams battled for control, UTA jumped ahead with a 8-3 run to bring the score to 15-10 in favor of the Mavericks.
Arkansas State responded in a fighting effort to bring the score to 24-21, but a kill from junior middle blocker Madison Hill cemented the set one victory for the Mavericks.
The second set started right where the first set left off as the Mavericks quickly jumped ahead 6-2. The Red Wolves limited the Mavericks, responding with four points to knot the set at 8-8.
UTA later pushed its lead to 15-10, forcing Arkansas State into a time out. After the break, the Red Wolves came back to tie the set at 24-24, outscoring UTA 14-9. Two back-to-back kills by ASU’s Peyton Uhlenhake ended the set in favor of the Red Wolves, bringing the match score to 1-1.
After dropping the second set, the Mavericks continued to implement their game plan against Arkansas State, taking control early. Head coach J.T. Wenger said the plan was to contain ASU's senior Carlisa May, the Sun Belt Conference's Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
Both teams traded points as the Mavericks fought to retain their lead.
The Red Wolves attempted to duplicate the same performance that secured them a win in the second set, but the Mavericks answered back every time to stay at an advantage.
The Mavericks secured the set 25-20, inching closer to the match victory as they brought the score to 2-1.
The fourth set started in unfamiliar territory for the Mavericks as the Red Wolves opened the set with a 12-6 run.
As UTA attempted to take the lead, Arkansas State continued to add on to its advantage, eventually securing the set 25-15, bringing the match score to 2-2 and forcing a fifth set.
The fifth and final set saw a battle between two determined teams.
Both squads came out with a competitive drive that saw no lead greater than three in the set.
At 14-13 UTA, with both teams exchanging leads and the match on the line, junior outside hitter Kylie Jedlicka came down with the kill to secure the win for the Mavericks.
“One thing that stands out is our resilience in this one,” Wenger said. “We battled back, we were up, we were down, we were up, we were down, we were able to come up on top.”
Match No. 2: UTA 3, University of Arkansas at Little Rock 2
In the first set, the Mavericks jumped out to an early 9-5 advantage over the Trojans.
Little Rock called a timeout so the Trojans could regroup, after which the team bounced back with a 5-2 to bring themselves within one.
The Trojans came close to tying the score, but the Mavericks responded with two quick points to add on to their lead.
With each team battling for the go-ahead, Little Rock took advantage of two UTA errors to take a 19-17 lead.
The Mavericks called a timeout, but the Trojans returned from the break to extend their scoring run to 6-0, bringing the score to 22-17.
With Little Rock three points away from the set win, UTA responded with a run that brought the score to 23-21 in favor of the Trojans.
Taking control of the set, the Trojans scored two points to end the set 25-22 and establish a 1-0 match lead.
UTA entered the second set with with a 7-3 run. The Trojans then responded with a 4-0 run to tie the score at 7-7.
UTA would not allow Little Rock to take control of the match as the Mavericks tied the score at 14-14. The Mavericks kept their momentum going, eventually jumping ahead 21-17.
The lead seemed to make the difference as UTA closed out the set with a score of 25-21, tying the match score at 1-1.
In the third set, with each team fighting for control, Little Rock was the first to jump ahead.
The Trojans continued their dominating play as they used a 5-0 run to push their advantage to eight points.
The Mavericks fought back to narrow the deficit, bringing the score to 14-11.
Little Rock didn't let the pressure of losing their large lead affect its play. The Trojans continued to dominate, taking the set and bringing the match score to 2-1.
The Mavericks took an 8-3 head start in the fourth set, refusing to face defeat. UTA continued to add on to its lead as Little Rock trailed 13-5.
Putting up a fight, the Trojans brought themselves within four after their 9-5 run made it 18-14.
As the competition rose, Little Rock took advantage of an error to tie the set at 21-21.
UTA then took a two-point lead, but an attack error by senior middle blocker Zhanelle Geathers brought Little Rock within one.
Geathers later redeemed herself with a kill to give the Mavericks the set four win and knot the match score at 2-2.
After dropping the fourth set, the Trojans came out with a 4-0 run to take the early lead in the fifth set.
UTA countered the Trojans with a 10-6 run of their own to tie the game 10-10. Wenger said the fans gave the volleyball team an incredible experience with the way they cheered for the girls to persevere.
Both teams wouldn't let up the fight as they continued their back-and-forth battle until UTA broke away to claim the victory with a final score of 15-13 and match score of 3-2.
Freshman outside hitter Brooke Townsend finished as the match leader in kills with 18.
“It was just really great to be able to contribute to the team,” Townsend said. “Giving everything for my team and kinda working together with it no matter what the situation was.”
The Mavericks finished the weekend undefeated, bringing their win streak to three games.
“Anytime you win, I guess that'd be three in a row now, in this league, especially against all west conference teams, that's a big deal,” Wenger said.
Next up, the Mavericks will head south to face Texas State University at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in San Marcos, Texas.