FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – After sweeping the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens last week, the University of Arkansas volleyball team saw three Razorbacks earn four SEC Weekly Awards, as announced by the conference office on Wednesday afternoon.
Junior Lauren Evans earned the first SEC award of her career, recognized as the Defensive Player of the Week, classmate Gracie Ryan was named Setter of the Week and sophomore Jillian Gillen earned Offensive Player of the Week and was chosen from all weekly award winners as the overall Player of the Week.
The trio’s performances helped Arkansas defeat Georgia for the first time in Athens since 2016 and handed the Bulldogs their first series sweep of the 2020-21 season. It also marks the first time since 2018 that Arkansas defeated a team in straight sets on the road.
As a team, the Razorbacks tied their season high for number of kills in a three-set match, earning 47 on Friday night. Arkansas also set a new season-high for digs in a three-set match, accumulating 54 digs in the sweep.
Gillen and Evans were targeted a combined 77 times in serve receive this weekend and were a key part of Arkansas committing a season-low two reception errors in the week’s first match. Evans did not commit an error over 38 serve receptions on the weekend.
Gillen brought her A-game to Athens, outperformed her season average in every offensive category: kills per set, hitting percentage, assists per set and aces per set. She also contributed 22 total digs (3.14 per set) and two crucial solo blocks. In Thursday night’s win, she notched her 15th career double-double with 22 kills and 13 digs, while tying her career-high with four service aces.
Evans continues to be a defensive stronghold for the Razorbacks, officially recording double-digit kills in 11 of 12 matches over the course of the 2020-21 campaign. She tallied 27 digs in the series sweep, averaging 3.86 digs per set.
Ryan earned her sixth double-double of the season in Friday’s win, bringing her total to 13 career double-doubles in the cardinal and white. She has recorded 20+ assists in all 12 matches this season, ranking her second among all SEC setters in assists per set (10.41) and first for total assists (479). Ryan also held her own defensively registering 17 digs and eight total blocks during the series. The Florida native even notched a career-high five total blocks against Georgia on Thursday.
Arkansas will host Alabama next, as the Tide comes to town on Feb. 12 for a two-match series starting Friday night at 7 p.m. CT.
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