The University of Arkansas captured a pair of SEC Western Division wins with road victories at Mississippi State and Mississippi this weekend. The victories keep Arkansas in sole possession of the SEC Western Division’s top spot with two regular season league matches remaining.
Time’s getting tight
That’s right. Arkansas has just two regular season conference matches remaining before the SEC Tournament. The Lady’Backs travel for a midweek trip to LSU and host Kentucky Nov. 13 in the final match before the league tournament in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Brewer chasing 1,000
Junior Kele Brewer could become the second player this year to reach her career 1,000th kill. The Castroville, Texas, native enters the LSU match with 952, needing just 48 more to reach 1,000. She will join fellow junior Denitza Koleva who also reached her 1,000th kill this year. Koleva’s 1,000th kill came at Georgia.
1,000 another way
Sophomore Ashley Miller is also approaching 1,000 digs that is. The Vacaville, Calif., libero entered the Mississippi match with 975 needing just 25 more for 1,000. Miller will become just the sixth player in school history to reach her career 1,000th kill and is fully expected to set the career record before her four years at Arkansas are over. The current record is 1,659 digs held by Krystal Osborne and set during the inaugural four years of the program from 1994-97. Miller’s current pace will put her well beyond 2,000 career kills after her four-year career.
Arkansas celebrates the careers of a pair of seniors in the final home match of the 2005 season Sunday against Kentucky. The Lady Razorbacks honor senior setter Iva Docekalova and middle blocker Karla Crose for their contributions to the Cardinal and White.
About Iva Docekalova
A four-year starter and significant contributor for Arkansas, senior Iva Doceakova has served the team as both a setter and defensive specialist. Docekalova’s name is sprinkled throughout the record books at Arkansas. The Brno, Czech Republic, native ranks fifth for assists with 1680, ninth in assists per game with 3.55, fourth in service aces with 130, 11th in service aces per game with 0.27. Docekalova is first in total serves with 2,348, third in serving percentage with a .957 mark. She is tied for seventh in games played with 473 and is eighth in total matches played with 126. All numbers are prior to the LSU match.
About Karla Crose
Karla Crose transferred to Arkansas after one season at Indiana University. After redshirting the following year, Crose stepped onto the court becoming a solid middle blocker and go-to player for Arkansas. Although her career is far from over, the Lincoln, Neb., native finds herself well-represented in the Arkansas record books. Crose ranks 16th for career kills with 609, 20th in kills per game at 1.72, 17th in total attempts with 1510, 20th in hitting percentage with a .225 mark, 17th in assists with 104, tied for seventh in serving percentage with .947, tied for 15th in block solos with 20, sixth in both block assists with 382 and total blocks with 402. Crose is tied for seventh in blocks per game with 1.14, tied for 15th in games played with 354 and is 16th for matches played with 94.
SEC Tournament fast approaching
The 2005 Southeastern Conference Tournament is quickly approaching Nov. 18-20. The event is hosted by the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the CAVE.
The Final One
This is the final SEC Tournament that is currently scheduled. Next year, the league will play a double round robin schedule, facing each of the member teams (11, Vanderbilt does not have volleyball) twice in a home-and-away schedule. The extended league schedule will see Arkansas play conference opponents through the same weekend as the tournament is typically scheduled.
LSU comes to Fayetteville with a 19-6 overall record and a 9-5 mark in SEC play. The Tigers had won three in a row with home wins against Auburn and Alabama and a road victory at Mississippi but suffered a four-game loss at Mississippi State Sunday. LSU is Arkansas’ travel partner and has the same SEC opponent remaining on the schedule Kentucky. The Wildcats travel to Baton Rouge Friday and come to Fayetteville Sunday in the final league matches of the season.
Tigers at home
LSU opened its “home” season in Fayetteville using Barnhill Arena as a home venue the first week of conference play after Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of Louisiana. LSU played on their home court, the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, for the first time Oct. 14 with a three-game win over Mississippi State. The Tigers are undefeated in the PMAC this year in fact winning every match in three games. That includes victories over Mississippi State, Mississippi, Auburn and Alabama.
Lady’Backs versus the Tigers
The Lady Razorbacks hold a 22-3 series advantage over LSU and are on a two-match winning streak. Arkansas defeated LSU in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Gainesville, Fla., last year and downed the Tigers in four games in Fayetteville earlier this year. Arkansas’ three losses to the Tigers have all come in the Fran Flory era and two of the three took place in Fayetteville.
Last time out
Arkansas picked up a 26-30, 30-24, 30-27, 31-29 win over the road-weary Tigers in Fayetteville Oct. 5. The Lady’Backs were paced by Kele Brewer with 15 kills leading four players in double-figure kills for the match. Sophomore libero Ashley Miller recorded 24 digs while Denitza Koleva had 15. Arkansas had 20.0 team blocks paced by Amy Allison with one block solo and 12 block assists.
LSU had two players in double-figure kills led by Jelena Mijatovic with 22 kills to lead all hitters.
Kentucky enters the week with a 16-8 overall record and is 9-5 in SEC play enjoying one of the team’s best seasons in the SEC in recent years. The Wildcats were on a four-match winning streak until suffering a three-game loss against Tennessee Sunday by a combined six-point margin. The Wildcats are hitting .233 as a team paced by Danielle Wallace with a 4.33 kill-per-game average.
The Lady’Backs versus the Wildcats
The Lady’Backs are on the winning side of an 11-5 series against Kentucky but the Wildcats defeated Arkansas in four games earlier this year. Arkansas had won 11 in a row prior to this season’s loss in Lexington. Arkansas is 7-1 all-time against Kentucky in Fayetteville but only squeaked out a narrow five-game win in Barnhill last year.
Last Time Out
Kentucky handed Arkansas a four-game, 27-30, 30-24, 21-30, 25-30, loss in Lexington earlier this year. Dentiza Koleva and Christina Lawrence paced Arkansas with 17 kills each, a career-best for Lawrence, but Arkansas couldn’t overcome the Wildcats.
The SEC Tournament
The SEC saw a change in 1994 when the Lady Razorbacks added volleyball. The league split into Eastern and Western Divisions with five teams in the East and six in the West. All 11 SEC teams went to the tournament until 1999, when the league again made a change taking only the top eight teams.
Arkansas in the SEC Tournament
The Lady’Backs have been the number two seed in the SEC Tournament in nine of 11 previous tournaments. The Lady’Backs surrendered the No. 2 seed in 2000 when Alabama won the Western Division title and Arkansas was a three seed last year when the SEC made a change and the Western Division winner was no longer automatically the second seed. This year, Arkansas may win the West but Tennessee, with the same record, might be the second seed by virtue of winning the tie-breaker (the Lady Vols defeated Arkansas in the opening conference match of the year).
Arkansas likes the finals
The Lady Razorbacks have reached the finals of the SEC Tournament in eight of 11 appearances facing Florida in each of those championship matches. Arkansas lost in the first round of the tournament in the program’s inaugural year in 1994, falling to Kentucky in five games in the opener. Arkansas was bounced early by Tennessee in the first round in 2000 and lost again to the Lady Vols in the second round last year.
A helping hand
Senior setter Iva Docekalova has played setter and defensive specialist and has run both a 5-1 and a 6-2 offense in her four seasons at Arkansas. Despite the changes in her role, she too, is on the verge of a record-setting season nearing 2,000 career assists. The Brno, Czech Republic native has 1680 career assists heading into the LSU match. She will become the fourth player to reach that milestone joining Tina Rico, who leads all setters with 5,886, Ning Zhao and Roberta Tarnauskaite.
Another record for Docekalova?
Iva Docekalova is also one of the team’s top servers and is currently fourth on the all-time service ace list with 130 unreturnable serves. The record is 160 held by Tina Rico in 539 games over her four-year career. Docekalova also holds the record for most service attempts with 2291 in her career for a .957 service percentage.
Allison and Crose push blocking records
Amy Allison currently ranks 12th for career block solos with 32 prior to the LSU match. She is eighth overall for block assists with 306 and ninth for total blocks with 338. Allison is fifth for blocks per game averaging 1.22 for her career.
Senior Karla Crose is also moving up the blocking records list ranking sixth for block assists with 382 and she is sixth for total blocks with 402 for her three-year career as a Lady’Back. She is tied for seventh for blocks per game with a 1.14 bpg average.
The Western Wall
Arkansas has had 22 of their 27 matches with double-digit blocks this year highlighted by 23.0 team blocks at Georgia in a five-game win. Arkansas traditionally is a solid blocking team ranking in the top 50 in the country for blocks-per-game and this year is no exception. Arkansas ranked 12th averaging 3.34 in last week’s NCAA rankings with the new numbers due out midweek. Junior Amy Allison leads Arkansas and was second in the country with a 1.86 block-per-game average last week.
Arkansas picked to win SEC
The University of Arkansas was voted to tie LSU for the 2005 Southeastern Conference Western Division title in a poll from the league’s coaches. Arkansas received five first-place votes while LSU garnered six. Florida was again selected to win the SEC Eastern Division title and the overall title despite dropping two matches to upstart Tennessee last year and surrendering the titles. (see the poll on page 3).
Arkansas and the SEC Western Division
The Lady Razorbacks have dominated the SEC Western Division since adding volleyball in 1994. Arkansas was 109-7 all-time against the Western Division entering the year and is a perfect 7-0 (Auburn [2x], Alabama [2x], LSU, Miss and MSU) this year bettering the numbers to 116-7 for a .943 winning percentage.
Double Me Up
Junior Denitza Koleva leads the team with 21 matches with double-digit kill totals. Her season best 27 kills came against nationally-ranked Kansas State where she hit .442. Koleva has also had double-digit digs in 15 of Arkansas’ 24 matches this year with double-doubles (kills and digs) in 13 matches as well.
More about doubles
Jessica Dorrell has posted nine matches with double-digit kills. Christina Lawrence has had 10, Amy Allison nine, Kele Brewer 13 and Karla Crose nine matches with double-figure kill totals.
A double in another way
Junior Amy Allison has recorded five matches this year with double-digit block totals highlighted by a career-best 14.0 at Alabama. She followed up with 13.0 against LSU in the very next match and had 13.0 against SLU.
I can dig it
Sophomore Ashley Miller has posted double-digit dig totals in 23 of Arkansas’ 25 matches. Miller’s high is a school-record 32 digs against Utah in a five-game win at Missouri State in tournament action the third weekend of the year. Miller has been at plus 20 digs in nine matches and collected 29 at Georgia last week.
Moving on up
Arkansas remained in third place in this week’s AVCA regional rankings (see complete list on next page). The Lady’Backs trail No. 4 Florida and Tennessee but are ahead of the rest of the Southeastern Conference in the standings.
Arkansas has also moved to No. 24 in the RichKern.com RKPI rankings. The RKPI is not the official rpi rating used by the NCAA but uses a similar formula and is widely used until NCAA Tournament time.
Turkey Day surprise
Arkansas was scheduled to host Tulsa over the Thanksgiving break in a single match Nov. 26, but the Golden Hurricane are unable to attend. The match has officially been cancelled with no make up or replacement scheduled.
Arkansas continues its SEC schedule traveling to Mississippi State Nov. 4, Mississippi Nov. 6 and LSU Nov. 9. Arkansas concludes the SEC regular season hosting Kentucky Nov. 13, in the final home match of the year.