FAYETTEVILLE - The University of Arkansas volleyball team begins its 2013 season Friday with day one of the Arkansas Invitational at Barnhill Arena. The season-opening event is the first of two home tournaments this season for the Razorbacks. The field for the Arkansas Invitational also includes New Mexico, Northwestern State and UMKC.
The Razorbacks' two-match opening day begins with an 11 a.m. (CT) matchup with Northwestern State. It will be the second meeting between the two programs with Arkansas knocking off the Lady Demons in four sets last year in Fayetteville. Arkansas will return to the court Friday at 7 p.m. to host New Mexico in the day's finale for the first-ever meeting between the two teams. The Lobos are one of three first-time opponents on Arkansas' 2013 schedule.
"It feels like it's about time to play somebody else," sixth-year head coach Robert Pulliza said. "Our players are excited to get going and as a staff, we're excited to see where we are as a team. We've had a really good preseason and have been doing some good things, so it's time to see what we can do."
The Arkansas Invitational will conclude Saturday with the Razorbacks playing UMKC at 1 p.m. Following the New Mexico-Northwestern State match at 4 p.m., a ceremony will be held to recognize the event champion and all-tournament team, including MVP and Outstanding Libero accolades.
Arkansas returns nine letterwinners from last season's team that advanced to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks list of returners includes Monica Bollinger, Liz Fortado, Emily Helm, Hayley Koop, Avery Lewis, Summer Morgan, Clarissa Pavey, Raymariely Santos and Ashley Vazquez. Redshirt freshmen Ana Sofia Jusino and Adrien Wohlschlaeger also return from last year's roster.
The Razorbacks welcome the top-ranked SEC and No. 16 national recruiting class to Fayetteville. Arkansas' group of newcomers features junior transfer Meredith Hays and freshmen Barbara Dapic, Blakelee Dunagin, Danielle Harbin, Breana Jones, Megan Mollett, and Savannah Voelzke. Hays was the 2011 WAC Freshman of the Year and a two-time All-WAC First Team performer during her stay at New Mexico State.
For both Friday matches, fans get in free when they show their ticket to Saturday's Arkansas-Louisiana football game. Pizza will be available for students during both matches. On Saturday, the Razorbacks' match will be free and open to all fans with no tickets required for the tournament finale.
Due to Saturday's football game, parking for fans will be located at Baum East (baseball parking lot on Razorback Road). From there, fans can ride the shuttle up to Gate 1 of Razorback Stadium and walk to Barnhill Arena. Shuttles begin at 11 a.m. Saturday. Fans will need to return to Gate 1 for the return shuttle to parking lot.
Single-match tickets are $4 and will go on sale one hour before first serve at the ticket window at Barnhill Arena. Throughout the season, fans 17 years and younger get in to all Arkansas volleyball matches for free. University of Arkansas students attending volleyball matches this season are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter the arena.
Season tickets for the 2013 campaign are still available, starting at $40 for general admission seats. Reserved seats will be sold for $50. For more information and to purchase season tickets, visit the Razorback Ticket Center, both online and at physical location at Baum Stadium, or call 1-800-982-HOGS (4647).
For more information on Arkansas volleyball, follow @RazorbackVB on Twitter.