Balanced offense lifts Razorbacks to 3-2 win over Bulldogs

The No. 23 Razorbacks entered Sunday’s game looking to react after being swept for the first time this season the night before, and the Hogs did just that with a 3-2 win over the State Bulldogs. from Mississippi.

The home side won the first set as on Saturday, but Arkansas took a 2-1 lead after three. A late Bulldog comeback sealed a four-set final 25-23 for Mississippi State and tied the game, but the Razorback offense was unstoppable and hit a blistering .615 in the fifth for the first win in five. Arkansas sets this season.

The Hogs are now 11-3 this season and 2-2 in the SEC. Mississippi State is also 2-2 in the conference and 9-5 overall.

Arkansas’ offensive play was as even as it gets in Sunday’s series finale, and four Hogs recorded 10-plus kills with Jill Gillen, Taylor Head, Hailey Dirrigl and Maggie Cartwright. Gillen led the way with 16, while Head was close behind with 12 kills and 10 digs for a double-double. Dirrigl also had a dozen wins on 24 hits with just one error for a .458 hit percentage.

Graduate middle blocker Tatum Shipes had a big impact on both sides of the ball that day with a record six blocks and three service aces, and a record seven kills.

Set 1
The opening set started close between the two teams, but the Bulldogs pulled away with a 10-5 run and went up five at media timeout. They nailed two more runs for a 17-10 advantage, prompting Arkansas to call time. Mississippi State held a seven-point lead as the Bulldogs moved past 20 points, and the Hogs responded with just two more points. An Arkansas service error then closed the opening frame 25-15 in favor of MSU.

Set 2
There were six draws midway through the second set with neither team giving the other much leeway, but a 4-0 Hog run spurred by a Maggie Cartwright kill and capped by a ace Gracie Ryan made 13-10 Hogs. Mississippi State regrouped with a timeout, but Arkansas held control and didn’t let the Bulldogs cut the lead to less than two. The Hogs hit 20 first with a Cartwright kill, and the home team regrouped again. Ryan responded with another ace, and while the Bulldogs added a pair of runs, three straight Arkansas wins finished second 25-19 for the Razorbacks and tied the game at 1-1.

Set 3
The Hogs wasted no time in the third set and immediately went on the gas for an early 5-1 lead. Mississippi State couldn’t generate momentum after a timeout, and the Razorbacks continued to surge with a 7-2 streak capped by back-to-back aces from sophomore setter Hannah Hogue. The Bulldogs again called time 12-3, but couldn’t put up more than two runs at a time, allowing the Razorbacks to stay in full control. Arkansas never led by less than five after that, and a Gillen kill sent the set point up. Mississippi State recovered one thanks to a service error, but Dirrigl had a kill for the 25-18 victory and a 2-1 lead at Arkansas in the game.

Set 4
The home team’s early errors gave Arkansas a 6-3 cushion in the fourth, but the Bulldogs added three straight to tie and started again at 8-8. A 3-0 Hog run sent the Bulldogs into a group, and while they came a few times, Arkansas extended the advantage to four at 19-15 with two kills from Head and one from Dirrigl . Mississippi State wanted time after that, but Arkansas held steady and pushed the lead to 22-19 on a Gillen kill. The Bulldogs then responded with four straight points and took a narrow 23-22 lead. Arkansas equalized again, but a service error put the set point in MSU’s hands, and the Bulldogs finished it 25-23 with a kill and forced a fifth set.

Set 5
MSU got the first point in the deciding set, but Arkansas settled in and quickly took the lead on a four-point run, kicked off by a Dirrigl kill. Abigail Archibong gave Arkansas a five-point advantage with a kill and the Razorbacks led 8-3 at the media break. Shortly after, the Bulldogs scored three unanswered runs and Arkansas called time with a comfortable 12-8 lead. Gillen then added a pair of wins to bring it to match point, and Head closed the door in the fifth set 15-8 for the 3-2 win in the Arkansas game.

No. 23 Arkansas hosts No. 18 Kentucky (8-5, 3-1) for a pair of SEC games this weekend at Barnhill Arena. The series opener is scheduled for Friday, October 7 at 7 p.m. with Saturday’s game at 5 p.m. Both games will be broadcast live on SEC Network Plus. Tickets are available online or in person through the Razorback Ticket Center. Adult tickets are just $5 and kids 17 and under get in free.

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