The University of Arkansas volleyball team opened the 2005 season Aug. 9, with photos and physicals and began two-a-day practices the following day. Two-a-days continue through this week with the team changing into their normal season practice schedule once classes begin.
Seniors Lead Lady’Backs
The Lady Razorbacks are paced by a pair of seniors this year in Karla Crose and Iva Docekalova. Crose is the team’s leading returning middle blocker and ranked 47th in the country last year in blocks per game. Docekalova shared time at setter last year and will again contribute both as a setter and defensive player in 2005.
And the winner is…
Arkansas returns four athletes who have been recognized by the Southeastern Conference in the last two seasons. Juniors Kele Brewer and Denitza Koleva were both members of the all-freshman team in 2003 and Brewer earned SEC all-tournament team honors last year. They are joined by Ashley Miller and Jessica Dorrell, both of whom were on the SEC all-freshman team last year.
Lady’Backs open 2005 with back-to-back tournaments
The University of Arkansas opens the 2005 season with back-to-back home tournaments beginning with the Arkansas Invitational this weekend. Arkansas welcomes Belmont, Memphis and North Texas Friday and Saturday in a round robin event in Barnhill Arena. The Lady’Backs host the second annual C&C Services Invitational Sept. 2-3, hosting Kansas State, Nicholls State and Utah State.
Are you new?
The Lady’Backs will have five new faces on the court in 2005 – kind of. Christina Lawrence will be on the floor for the first time after redshirting last year. Lawrence is a 6-1 outside hitter from nearby Sullivan, Mo., and should make an immediate impact on the team.
Sophomore setter Nicole Martin is also new to the fans but not to the team. Martin transferred to Arkansas in January and has worked out with the Lady’Backs all spring and summer.
This year’s other new faces include Fort Smith, Ark., native and Arkansas All-Star MVP Kristin Seaton, Caira Daugherty and Destiny Clark. All three will fight for playing time early this season.
Lady’Backs welcome Alumni
The Lady Razorbacks are hosting an Alumni scrimmage Sunday, Aug. 21, at 1:30 p.m., in Barnhill Arena. Several former players are slated to attend this informal practice. It is just a practice but fans and media are welcome to attend.
About the Arkansas Invitational
The Lady Razorbacks host the Arkansas Invitational this weekend. The event is a good one for Arkansas to get its feet wet but the Lady’Backs will have their hands full with a couple of unknowns. Arkansas is facing Belmont and Memphis for the first time in program history and have met North Texas just twice in 11 seasons. On the plus side, Arkansas hosted Memphis in spring tournament action getting a sneak peak at this year’s team.
The Belmont Bruins were picked second with one first-place vote in the Atlantic Sun preseason poll after posting a 21-8 overall and 8-2 conference record in 2004. The Bruins return all six starters from last year’s squad that won their most matches (21) since moving to Division I. Deane Webb, the 2004 A-Sun Coach of the Year, counts three all-conference and three all-freshman selections from last season on his roster paced by Freshman of the Year setter Colleen Nilson and outside hitter Lindsay Cleveland whose 4.25 kills per game were a big reason the Bruins led the league in kills.
Arkansas Versus Belmont
This is the first meeting between Arkansas and Belmont in program history.
The Tigers return to the court after a 27-10 season to face Arkansas for the first time in program history. Memphis has a lot on its young plate after a Conference USA shake up. The league lost perennial powers Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette, but welcome Rice, Marshall and SMU. The Tiger program, which has been picked to finish third overall in the C-USA preseason poll, will be young at setter but have several go-to players on the court.
Arkansas Versus Memphis
This is the first meeting between Arkansas and Memphis in program history.
About North Texas
The North Texas Mean Green return eight letterwinners from a young 2004 squad that managed just seven (7-23) wins. UNT notched six of the seven victories in Sun Belt Conference action finishing 6-9 in the league and fifth overall in the West.
Arkansas Versus North Texas
Arkansas is 2-0 lifetime against North Texas. The Lady Razorbacks defeated the Mean Green in three games in Fayetteville in 2002, and notched a four-game win over UNT in tournament action in Springfield, Mo., in 2003.
Arkansas leads 2-0
9-6-02 Fayetteville W 30-16, 30-23, 30-18
9-6-03 Springfield W 30-24, 30-21, 28-30, 30-17
C&C Services up next
Arkansas hosts the second annual C&C Services next weekend with Kansas State, Nicholls State and Utah State. The Wildcats reached the NCAA Tournament second round and finished the year ranked 23rd in the country.
Two on the road
The Lady’Backs follow up with back-to-back road tournaments at the Results Advertising Classic in Springfield, Mo., and the San Diego Invitational in San Diego, Calif. See the schedule on page one for more information.
Until we meet again
Chris Poole, along with several other coaches, will host a weekly press conference every Tuesday at 2:00 p.m., in the Barnhill Arena Media Room. The Women’s Communications Office staff will send a reminder email to area media and let you know who is scheduled to attend or if there are any changes. If you have questions or would like to sign up to receive the email, please contact the WCO.