The end is near
Arkansas has just four regular season matches remaining in the 2006 season. The Lady’Backs travel to No. 11 LSU for a mid-week tilt in Baton Rouge, La., followed by the final home match with Alabama Nov. 12. Arkansas travels to Mississippi on Nov. 17 and is at Mississippi State Nov. 19.
Arkansas’ “new” season
The Lady Razorbacks went through the first 10 SEC matches with a disappointing 3-7 record. The team re-dedicated themselves to the season and are 5-1 in the second half or “new” season. Arkansas has avenged losses to Kentucky, No. 25 Tennessee and Auburn during the stretch.
Back-to-back ranked opponents
Arkansas faces No. 7 Florida and No. 11 LSU in back-to-back matches against ranked teams. It’s the first time this year the Lady’Backs have played ranked teams in consecutive.
15 wins a milestone
Arkansas defeated Auburn Friday for the program’s 15th win of the 2006 season. Arkansas has won at least 15 matches in each season since the program’s inaugural year in 1994. The Lady’Backs were 16-14 in 2000 marking the lowest win total for a single season. The Lady’Backs are looking to surpass that 16-win mark yet this season.
Speaking of milestones
The Lady’Backs entered the 2007 season with a 288-129 overall mark and a 144-40 mark in SEC matches. Arkansas’ 15 wins this year bring the all-time record to 303-138 all-time and their 8-8 league record improves the all-time SEC numbers to 152-48.
Allison has good week
Senior Amy Allison collected a career-best 17 kills against No. 7 Florida Sunday. Allison had a solid weekend hitting .429 for two matches with 30 kills and 16 blocks. Allison leads the starters with a .311 hitting percentage – a career-best for the Jenks, Okla., native as well.
Denitza Koleva posts good numbers
Senior Denitza Koleva’s season numbers are good enough to earn her post-season honors this year. Koleva started the season with six consecutive double-doubles, had a run of 10 consecutive double-doubles and has posted double-doubles in 18 of Arkansas’ 23 matches this year. She is hitting a career-best .257 and had a career-best 29 kills and 64 total attempts against Kentucky. She had a career-best four service aces against North Carolina and 22 digs at Auburn.
Another feather for Koleva
Denitza Koleva became just the seventh player in school history to record her career 1,000th-dig. Koleva reached the mark with her 14th dig against No. 7 Florida Sunday, Nov. 5. Koleva is just the fifth player in school history to have both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in her career.
Jessica Dorrell has had some highlights
Junior Jessica Dorrell tallied a career-best 18 kills and 46 total attempts against Stephen F. Austin and had 18 digs against Sacramento State. She has moved around in the lineup due to injury and illness but is back in her normal position so look for more good numbers.
Ashley Miller’s diggin’ it up
Junior Ashley Miller has again been solid at libero for Arkansas. The Vacaville, Calif., native set a school record with 36 digs in a win over Mississippi. She has had double-digit dig totals in 22 of Arkansas’ 23 matches and is currently averaging 4.66 digs per game – a mark that is also a career-best.
Lawrence better with each match
Redshirt sophomore Christina Lawrence improves with each match she plays. Lawrence posted a career-best five digs in a win at Georgia and had a career-best 13 block assists against Mississippi. She is also hitting a career-best .278 this year.
NCAA announced some numbers
The NCAA recently released the first RPI ranking and the Lady’Backs are 29th on the list. Only two other SEC teams are ahead of Arkansas. They are Florida at No. 8 and LSU at No. 11. This is the only NCAA RPK that will be announced during the season. Seven SEC teams are in the top 64. See the list on the right.
How does that compare?
Arkansas has kept a close watch on the unofficial Rich Kern RKPI rankings published weekly by a volleyball insider. The RKPI closely mirrors the NCAA RPI although the formula is not exactly the same. Arkansas ranks 28th in the RKPI this week.
Several Lady Razorbacks are climbing in the record books. The complete career top 10 is listed later in this release. Here’s a couple key categories of note.
Senior Denitza Koleva became the 10th player in school history to record her career 1,000th kill last year and she has steadily moved up the top 10 list into the number two spot becoming just the second player in school history to surpass 1500 career kills. Teammate and fellow senior Kele Brewer soon followed with her 1000th kill in 2005 and is now 10th with 1180. Also climbing: Jessica Dorrell is 16th with 757 and Amy Allison is 17th with 734.
Junior Ashley Miller is on track to completely rewrite the Arkansas dig records. Miller holds the single match record with 36 set against Mississippi in 2006 and ranks first in career digs per game with a 4.29 average. She also became the six player in school history to reach 1,000 career digs and is currently second all-time and is on pace to rank first by the end of the 2006 season. Senior Denitza Koleva is the only other Lady’Back to rank in the top 20. She is seventh with 1002 career digs.
Senior Amy Allison continues to move up the blocking records. Allison ranks tied for eighth in block solos with 60. Senior Denitza Koleva is 18th with 18. Allison is fifth on the block assists list with 430, followed by Jessica Dorrell who is ninth with 301, and Koleva who is 13th with 235.
Allison leads the team in total blocks as well with 490 to rank fifth all-time. Dorrell is 12th with 31 and Koleva is 15th with 253.
Digs and Kills
Athletes who finish their careers in the top 10 statistically in any given category can look back on their accomplishment with satisfaction. Arkansas has several players who rank in the top 10 in more than one category – specifically kills and digs. Senior Denitza Koleva is the most recent addition to the list.
How about three?
If you look at the note above, you realize what an exclusive group it is to rank in the top 10 for both digs and kills. What if you throw in service aces? Kim Storey, Denitza Koleva, Jamie Rohme, Krystal Osborne and Yarleen Santiago remain.
That’s too much!
Let’s add total blocks. Kim Storey and Yarleen Santiago are the only two Lady’Backs in the history of the program to rank in the top 10 in all four categories. However, Denitza Koleva, Jamie Rohme and Krystal Osborne are all in the top 20 for total blocks with Koleva (the only current player on the list) ranking 17th in total blocks.
Selection Show Sunday
The NCAA will announce the 2006 NCAA Tournament field in a televised selection show Sunday, Nov. 26. Details of time and channel have not yet been announced.
LSU begins the week with a 21-4 overall record and a 13-3 SEC record. The Tigers’ three conference losses have come at the hands of Florida twice and at Alabama. LSU’s only other loss came against second-ranked Penn State earlier in the year. LSU is hitting just .206 in SEC play this year compared to a .224 SEC hitting percentage for Arkansas but the Tigers are nearly unbeatable at home (Florida is the lone home SEC loss in nearly two seasons). Marina Skender leads the Tigers with 233 kills and 4.09 kills per game. Skender is hitting .194 for the year. Other players to watch include Kyna Washington with 219 kills and 3.84 kpg and Lauren DeGirolamo who leads the team with a .292 average in SEC matches.
Arkansas versus the Tigers
Arkansas leads the all-time series record with the Tigers 22-5 but LSU has won the last two downing Arkansas in Fayetteville earlier this year.
The last time out
FAYETTEVILLE University of Arkansas senior Amy Allison had a career-best 14 kills and hit .571 but 10th-ranked LSU got a four-game win over the Lady’Backs in Barnhill Arena Wednesday.
Arkansas (10-5, 3-4 SEC) fell 24-30, 30-20, 26-30, 30-32 to the Tigers (15-1, 7-0 SEC).
Allison paced the team with her .571 hitting percentage. She added three blocks in the loss. Senior Denitza Koleva added 18 kills and 16 digs while senior Kele Brewer tallied 11 kills and hit .257 in one of her best matches of the year.
The Tigers had four players in double-figures led by Kyna Washington with 19 in the win.
It’s Senior Night
Arkansas hosts Alabama Sunday, Nov. 12 in the final regular season match of 2006. The Lady’Backs celebrate senior night recognizing the accomplishments of seniors Amy Allison, Kele Brewer and Denitza Koleva will be honored before the match.
The only senior class
This year’s senior class has a chance to do something no other senior class has. They could be the first to reach the NCAA Tournament each of their four years. The classes of 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005 all went dancing three times during their careers and the classes of 1997, 2002 and 2003 all went twice. There were no seniors on the team in 1994 or 1995 and the class of 1996, lone senior Denise Baez, made three post-season appearances but two (1994 and 1995) were at the NIVC Invitational in Kansas City, Kansas. The class of 1999 would have also made four trips to the NCAA Tournament but those graduates did not compete at Arkansas four seasons. Senior Sandy Martin was a two-year transfer and senior Yarleen Santiago only played three seasons of collegiate volleyball.
Alabama enters the week with a 15-10 record and a 10-6 SEC record. The Crimson Tide are out-hitting opponents .223 to .175 and out-blocking them 2.7 to 2.0 blocks per game. Bama is paced by Crystal Hudson who leads the team with 380 kills, 3.92 kills per game, a .404 hitting percentage and 1.13 blocks per game. Bridget Fuentez is also important to the offense with 355 kills, 3.78 kpg and a .204 average.
Arkansas versus the Crimson Tide
Arkansas is 24-3 lifetime against Alabama but dropped the most recent contest in Tuscaloosa earlier this year.
Last time at Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. The University of Arkansas suffered a three-game Southeastern Conference loss at Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday.
The loss drops Arkansas to 10-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC while Bama improves to 10-6 and 5-2 with the 22-30, 18-30, 25-30 win. The Crimson Tide win snaps a nine-match winning streak for the Lady Razorbacks against Alabama and is the third consecutive loss for Arkansas.
”It was a very disappointing match tonight,” said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. “We were completely out of sync the whole match.”
Arkansas finished the match without a block and hit just .128. Senior Denitza Koleva had a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs. She hit .385 for the match.