Arkansas volleyball finishes historic season with Elite Eight appearance and two players headed to the pros

Arkansas was one of only six schools to have more than one person chosen in the inaugural pro draft.
Arkansas’ Jill Gillen, right, hits the ball toward Nebraska’s Andi Jackson (15) and Bergen Reilly (2) during the first set of an NCAA women’s college volleyball tournament quarterfinal, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald via AP)

The Arkansas Razorbacks volleyball team finished the season with a four-set loss to No. 1-ranked Nebraska in the NCAA Tournament regional final matchup in Lincoln, Neb. on Saturday.

It was the program’s first-ever Elite Eight appearance.

The Razorbacks concluded an historic year with a 28-6 record, the most wins since 1999. The team also achieved several other milestones, including a No. 8 ranking, their best SEC record since 2003 at 15-3, and an 18-2 start to the season, their best 20-match start ever.

Jill Gillen, in her final match as a Razorback, contributed significantly with 14 kills, four aces, and nine digs. Maggie Cartwright, another graduating hitter, had 11 kills, including a crucial set point in the third set, along with 10 digs for a double-double performance.

Senior Taylor Head had a notable performance with 10 kills and a team-leading 18 digs, showcasing her skills on both offense and defense for Arkansas.

Both Gillen and Cartwright earned spots on the All-Tournament Team after impressive showings in regional play.

Gillen and Cartwright headed to the pros

Two days after the final match, Gillen and Cartwright were selected in the inaugural Pro Volleyball Federation Draft.

The new league will begin play in January with seven teams, including the Atlanta Vibe, Columbus Fury, Grand Rapids Rise, Omaha Supernovas, Orlando Valkyries, San Diego Mojo, and Las Vegas Thrill. Teams in Kansas City and Indianapolis will join the federation in 2025.

Gillen was chosen first in the second round as the eighth overall pick by Omaha, but was later sent to Orlando as part of a two-player trade. Cartwright was taken first in the fourth round as the 22nd overall pick by Omaha.

Arkansas was one of only six schools to have more than one person chosen in the inaugural draft, which included players from 25 collegiate programs.