The Horned Frogs topped the University of Arkansas Razorbacks 3-2 (26-24, 17-25, 26-24, 23-25, 15-12) in a nail-biting season opener Friday evening in the University Recreation Center.
The match came down to the final points, the lead constantly teetering between the teams each set.
Senior middle blocker Kourtney Edwards, who lead the team with 14 kills, acknowledged the inconsistent level of play, which kept the team from securing a solid lead.
“We just have to learn to focus more and stay consistent in the game and we’ll be fine,” Edwards said.
Edwards said the team needed to focus on one point at a time in order to be more successful in their two matches tomorrow.
Both teams fought point for point throughout the match. The Horned Frogs led Arkansas by six points during the fourth game, but then let the Razorbacks close the gap to 15-14. After a timeout, a kill by Edwards followed by an ace by senior libero Katelyn Blackwood broke the Arkansas scoring run.
The teams battled it out for the lead, but the university fell short in the end by two points after a controversial net call, which gave Arkansas the winning point.
In the fifth set, a strong front-row performance from sophomore middle blocker Kristen Hester, who racked up 11 kills and six blocks throughout the match, helped to bring home the win.
Head coach Prentice Lewis said she was pleased with Hester’s performance in the fifth set.
“She finally came out of her own and started to block some serious balls and do some great things,” Lewis said.
Sophomore setter Megan Munce, who is taking over this year for the university’s all-time assist leader, Nirelle Hampton, proved she can run the court and play with the confidence needed to be the starting setter. She tallied up 47 assists, seven kills and 12 digs while proving she’s not afraid to play aggressive and take control at the net. Lewis said Munce had a fantastic performance.
“There’s some things that she’s not great at yet, and then there’s other things, like just her hustle, (that) is tremendous,” Lewis said. “That’s what helps us win games. We end up running down ten more balls than we have in the past … it makes a big difference.”
Munce and Lewis agreed that the team’s weakest skill tonight was passing. Both said that the mental aspect of the game hindered players’ passing at times.
“When our passing is on, we are a great team,” Munce said. “We just need to shake off the last play and get the next one automatically.
Junior right-side hitter Christy Hudson also had a strong performance, scoring 12 kills and coming up with 19 digs.
The Horned Frogs’ opening-weekend tournament continues Saturday, when they will face Grambling State University and Loyola Maramount University.
Lewis said the team will have its hands full Saturday with both teams. Lewis said Grambling State has a very athletic team while Loyola Maramount has an all-around good volleyball team.