Alabama won a five-set thriller Friday night against Arkansas, coming back from a 2-1 match deficit to win on senior night.
Alabama (20-12, 7-11 SEC) won the opening set, 25-13, before Arkansas (11-17, 5-13 SEC) answered with a 25-20 win to even the match. The Razorbacks took a 2-1 match lead with a 25-23 win in the third before the Crimson Tide responded with a convincing 25-10 win to send it to a deciding fifth set. Alabama trailed at the mid-set switch but made a late push to win, 15-10, and claim the five-set victory.
Celebrating senior night, Quincey Gary tallied a career-best 33 digs, pushing her final career total to 1,485, which ranks third in UA history. Fellow senior Cidavia Hall finished with a career-best .706 hitting percentage, with 13 kills and just one error on 17 swings. Junior Alexa Tomlak, who will be earning her degree his year, got the Foster Auditorium crowd on its feet with a service ace in the very first rally of the match.
Three Tide players finished in double figures in kills, led by junior Ginger Perinar with 17, followed closely by sophomore Doris Carter with 14 and Hall with 13. Freshman Mylana Byrd paced the offense with a career-best 28 assists, with sophomore Meghan Neelon posting 26 assists and 15 digs for her ninth double-double.
Trailing 7-6 early in set one, Alabama scored four-straight to start a 9-3 run that put the Tide ahead 15-10 at the media timeout. Alabama led by the same margin four points later and then a long rally helped by some stellar back-row defense ended in a kill from Carter to put the Tide ahead 18-12 and Arkansas called a timeout. A 4-1 run further extended the lead to 22-13 before the Razorbacks’ second timeout and Alabama closed it out with three unanswered points to win, 25-13.
The opening half of the second set was a back-and-forth affair, with five lead changes and 11 tie scores before Arkansas led by two at the media timeout, 15-13. Later tied at 16-16, the Razorbacks tallied three in a row before Alabama took a timeout trailing 19-16 and then spent its second soon after, down 22-17. The Tide answered back with three unanswered to draw within a pair, forcing Arkansas to call a timeout with its lead trimmed to 22-20. The Razorbacks ended the frame with three-straight to win, 25-20, and even the match at 1-1.
Alabama rebounded quickly after the set loss, starting the third on a 5-1 run. After increasing its lead to five points, 9-4, a 5-0 run from the visitors tied the set up at 9-9. A kill from junior Hayley McSparin put the Tide back in front and the home team remained ahead at the media timeout, 15-12. Three-straight after the break tied it at 15-15 and the Arkansas eventually pulled ahead 20-18 before Alabama spent its first timeout. A pair or Razorback points further extended their lead to 22-18 and, after Alabama’s second timeout, a 3-1 run from the home team made it a two-point game and Arkansas was forced to call its own timeout leading 23-21. The Razorbacks reached set point on the next rally but the Tide scored back-to-back points to stay alive, forcing Arkansas to call a timeout at 24-23. The Razorbacks held on to win the set, 25-23, and take a 2-1 match lead.
Needing to win the set to keep the match going, Alabama opened up the fourth with six unanswered points and Arkansas burned an early timeout. A service ace from sophomore Kaylee Thomas and kill from Carter extended the run to 8-0 before the Razorbacks scored their first point of the set. The lead eventually stretched to double digits, 12-2, and continued to pile it on, moving up 19-5 before Arkansas called its final timeout. It was all Alabama from that point on, with the Tide winning 25-10 to force a deciding fifth set.
Arkansas had the early momentum in the fifth, leading 6-2 before Alabama called a timeout. Alabama fought back to tie it at 7-7 but a kill gave the Razorbacks the one-point advantage at the mid-set switch. Trailing 9-8, a kill from Hall and an Arkansas attack error put the Tide in front, 10-9, and Arkansas took a timeout. The Razorbacks spent their final timeout trailing 13-10 and a kill from Carter and ace from Thomas closed it out as the Tide rallied to win the set, 15-10, and the match, 3-2.