FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Tennessee State University volleyball team fought hard at Arkansas on Friday but dropped the season-opener 0-3.
The Tigers (0-1) battled against the Razorbacks (1-0) in a hostile environment at Barnhill Arena. Senior Naomi Wells led the team with a double-double in kills (10) and digs (10). Arkansas seemed surprised in the first set by the Tigers heart.
“We fought a good fight,” head coach Kathy Roulhac said. “I felt like we beat ourselves with the unforced errors. I saw a lot of heart from our team, though, and that’s encouraging going forward.”
TSU took the first set straight to the wire. Senior Ileanushka Maldonado came up with a few key digs to keep points alive. She finished with 11 on the night, seven of those in the first set. Freshman Carla Grayson showed her potential as the middle blocker, racking up three blocks on the set. Fellow freshman Samantha Beltran added to the first set magic with five assists and four digs.
The Tigers went into the intermission with heart as Beltran (7) and sophomore Taylor Patterson (8) combined for 15 assists in the half. Patterson also added points through her serving with a pair of aces. Junior Haley Hampton had four kills to add on to the effort.
Hampton’s four kills turned into seven as she attempted to lead the Tigers to a set victory in the third, but Arkansas completed the match victory. Beltran finished off her collegiate debut with 14 total assists to lead TSU while sophomore Arijana Anderson joined in the scoring with five kills of her own. Maldonado (11) paired with Wells as the two Tigers with double-digit digs. Patterson and junior Madison Halterman helped out on defense with five and six digs, respectively.
The Tigers will look to get into the win column tomorrow with two chances. Michigan beckons at 1:00 p.m. and Stephen F. Austin waits in the wings at 4:30 p.m. Both games will have free audio broadcasts that will be made available through TSUTigers.com.
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