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2009 Review: Razorback Volleyball

2009 Review: Razorback Volleyball

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Behind the talents of its youngest roster since the program’s inaugural season, the University of Arkansas volleyball team made strides under second-year head coach Robert Pulliza. Picked to finish 10th in the Southeastern Conference in the preseason coaches’ poll, the Razorbacks exceeded expectations to post the sixth-best record in the league.

The Razorbacks finished the 2009 with a 13-18 record, a six-win improvement from the previous season, and in conference play, upped their win total by three to post a 7-13 mark. All this was done with a roster comprised of seven freshmen, three sophomores and two seniors; at any one time, the Razorbacks had as many as five freshmen on the court at the same time during SEC action.

Individually, the 2009 season represented the emergence of freshman outside hitter Jasmine Norton. The Rowlett, Texas, native became the sixth All-American in Razorback program history when she was selected as an Honorable Mention performer by the AVCA. In addition to her national recognition, Norton was named the South Region and SEC Freshman of the Year, earned a spot on the All-SEC Second Team and claimed All-South Region Honorable Mention accolades. Norton also set an SEC record by earning six league Freshman of the Week awards, all of which came during conference play.

Joining Norton in a show of the Razorbacks’ bright future was fellow freshman Amanda Anderson. The first commitment for Pulliza as Arkansas’ head coach, Anderson was also a member of the SEC All-Freshman Team, with Norton. The two Razorbacks are the seventh and eighth SEC all-freshman selections for Arkansas. During the non-conference season, Anderson earned all-tournament honors at the TCU Invitational and the Arkansas Invitational, the latter resulting in the 6-2 middle blocker being named the SEC Freshman of the Week.

The youth movement continued to shine with the play of Cassie Clarke. Clarke stepped in to start the final four matches of the season for the Razorbacks. In her second career start, she totaled 66 assists in a five-set win at Alabama, the most by an SEC player during the 2009 season.

The Razorbacks graduated two seniors, Lindsay Scanlan and Kristin Seaton, from the 2009 team as both players eclipsed career milestones during the season. At setter, Scanlan moved into third place all-time on the program’s list with 2,825 career assists. Seaton eclipsed the 600-kill mark and ended her career at Arkansas with 667 kills, moving into 19th on the program’s all-time list.

Four television appearances highlighted the Razorbacks’ conference schedule. Three of the four matches came against ranked opponents, including a five-set showdown with then-No. 19 LSU at Barnhill Arena. The Razorbacks battled back from a two-set deficit to force a decisive fifth and came up just short of the upset, but the television audience was witness to the budding talent of the young Arkansas team.

In reflection of the team’s play during the season, the Razorback fans created a high-energy environment inside Barnhill Arena. The atmosphere came to a peak when more than 1,000 fans witnessed Arkansas’ five-set win over Alabama. In the team’s longest match of the season, Arkansas rallied from a fifth-set hole and saved three match points before coming through for the victory. In addition to their home crowds, the Razorbacks played in front of 1,606 fans at Kentucky and 2,850 fans at Florida.

Building on his base of youth and talent, Pulliza added five players-Alexandra Fitzmorris, Haley Koop, Clarissa Pavey, Raymeriely Santos and Charmaine Whitmore-during the initial signing period. All five will join the Razorbacks as true freshman for the 2010 season. Arkansas also added Adriana Vazquez, a transfer from Hampton University, who joins the team for the 2010 spring season. With no seniors to graduate from next year’s team, future of Arkansas volleyball is now.

2009 Team Success

Had sixth AVCA All-American in program history (Jasmine Norton), first since 2006 season
Had second AVCA Region Freshman of the Year (Norton), first since 1999 season
Had fourth SEC Freshman of the Year (Norton), first since 2003 season
Had 21st player named either first- or second-team All-SEC (Norton), first since 2007 season
Picked up seventh and eighth SEC All-Freshman selections (Norton, Amanda Anderson)
Finished fourth in the SEC in hitting percentage and service aces
During conference play, finished second in total kills and fifth in kills per set
Posted No. 5 hitting percentage in program history (.430 vs. Grambling State, 8/29/09)
Tallied seven SEC weekly honors (Norton, six FOY; Anderson one FOY)
Increased kill total by more than 300 and hitting percentage by more than 30 points from 2008
Improved in every offensive statistic from 2008
Totaled 250 more digs than previous season

2009 Individual Achievement#1 Phoebe Bautista

Career-high 33 digs against Auburn (11/20/09), the second-most in program history; most since transition to 25-point sets
Also had matches of 27 and 29 digs this season
Finished eighth in SEC with 3.94 digs per set

#2 Lindsay Scanlan

Moved into No. 3 on Arkansas’ all-time assists list (2,825 assists)
Had a career-high 60 assists against Alabama (10/9/09); the fourth most by an SEC player this season
Also posted career highs in kills, attempts, hitting percentage and digs
Totaled six double-doubles

#3 Kendall Cleveland

Came off the bench to post career-high 12 kills against Alabama (10/9/09)
Bettered that performance in Arkansas’ next match with 14 kills against Mississippi State (10/11/09)
Missed the final 11 matches of the season with knee injury

#4 Cassie Clarke

Totaled career-best 66 assists against Auburn (11/20/09); the most by an SEC player during this season
Also had first career double-double against Auburn, adding 12 digs to her assist total
Started the final four matches of the season and average 10.35 assists per set

#5 Jasmine Norton

Led the SEC with 4.44 kills per set during conference play
Finished 38th and 41st nationally in points per set and kills per set, respectively; fifth among all freshman in both categories
Had four of the top 10 kill totals in the SEC during the season
Tied for league high with 29 kills against No. 19 LSU (11/8/09), the ninth-best performance in program history; most since transition to 25-kill sets
One of two players in the conference with a 20-20 effort (24 kills & 21 digs at Alabama, 11/15/09)
Averaged a double-double (17.75 kills & 10.5 digs) in SEC matches
Finished third in the SEC with 0.30 aces per set
Six-time SEC Freshman of the Week

#7 Amanda Anderson

Led the team in hitting percentage
Named to all-tournament teams at TCU Invitational and Arkansas Invitational
SEC Freshman of the Week (Sept. 7)
Career-best 15 kills against Auburn (11/20/09) and seven blocks at Auburn (10/4/09)
Tallied 15 matches with a .300 hitting percentage or better, including career-best .636 clip against Grambling State (11/29/09)
Career-high seven blocks at Tulsa (9/8/09) and Auburn (10/4/09); tied for highest on team during the season

#9 Allison Johnson

Career-high seven kills against Auburn (11/20/09)
Career-best four blocks against No. 19 LSU (11/8/09)
Posted career-best .545 hitting percentage at South Carolina (10/25/09)

#11 Janeliss Torres-Lopez

Led the team in blocks
Career-best eight kills at Auburn (10/4/09)
Career-best seven blocks against UTA (9/1/09); tied for highest on team during the season
Posted 1.000 hitting percentage on six attempts against East Carolina (9/5/09)

#13 Mackenzie Rhea

Season-high 12 digs in SEC opener against South Carolina (9/18/09)
Had four matches with 10 or more digs during the season
Earned a spot in the starting lineup in the last five matches of the season

#14 Kelli Stipanovich

Tallied career-high .800 hitting percentage at No. 17 Kentucky (9/27/09)
Hitting performance against the Wildcats represented highest by an SEC player during a conference match
Career-high seven blocks-three solo-in season finale at Ole Miss (11/25/09); tied for highest on the team during the season
Season-high 17 kills in season finale against the Rebels (11/25/09)
Finished second on the team with 2.48 kills per set

#15 Kristin Seaton

First career double-double at Virginia Tech (9/5/09) with 14 kills and 14 digs
Also posted career-high six assists against the Hokies (9/5/09)
Had double-double with 13 kills and 10 digs against No. 19 LSU (11/8/09)
Season-high 18 kills in home finale against Georgia (11/22/09)
12 matches with 10 or more kills during the season

#22 Katelyn McCarthy

Career-high 15 digs against South Carolina (9/18/09) and at Ole Miss (11/25/09)
Three matches with 10 or more digs
Earned nine starts during the season

Sports Category : Volleyball (W)