The University of Arkansas won a share of their 11th SEC Western Division title in 12 seasons despite dropping the final two matches of the regular season. Arkansas shares the title with LSU and enters the 2005 SEC Tournament as the fourth seed. The Lady’Backs face Kentucky in the first round.
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 Kentucky match with 968, needing just 32 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 reached her career 1,000th-dig this weekend against Kentucky. The Vacaville, Calif., libero entered the match with 990 career digs needing just 10 more for 1,000. Miller became 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.
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.
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 chasing a milestone, nearing 2,000 career assists. The Brno, Czech Republic native has 1714 career assists heading into the SEC Tournament. 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 132 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 2377 in her career for a .958 service percentage.
Allison and Crose push blocking records
Amy Allison currently ranks tied for 11th for career block solos with 35 prior to the SEC Tournament. She is eighth overall for block assists with 313 and ninth for total blocks with 348. Allison is fifth for blocks per game averaging 1.23 for her career.
Senior Karla Crose is also moving up the blocking records list ranking tied for 13th with 21 block solos, sixth for block assists with 389 and she is tied for fifth for total blocks with 410 for her three-year career as a Lady’Back. She is tied for seventh for blocks per game with a 1.19 bpg average.
The Western Wall
Arkansas has had 23 of their 29 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 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 9-1 (Auburn [2x], Alabama [2x], LSU, Miss [2x] and MSU [2x]) this year bettering the numbers to 118-8 for a .943 winning percentage.
Double Me Up
Junior Denitza Koleva leads the team with 24 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 17 of Arkansas’ 29 matches this year with double-doubles (kills and digs) in 15 matches as well.
More about doubles
Several other Lady’Backs have had double-digit kill totals in multiple matches this year. Kele Brewer is second on the team with 15, followed by Christina Lawrence with 13. Jessica Dorrell, Carla Crose and Amy Allison each have nine matches with double-digit kills.
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 26 of Arkansas’ 29 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.
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.
NCAA Selection Show up next
The NCAA will air the 2005 NCAA Volleyball Selection show Sunday, Nov. 27, sometime between 1:30-2:30 Central ESPNews.
The championship provides for a field of 64 teams. Sixteen first- and second-round matches will be played December 1-4. All first- and second-round matches will be played at the site of participating institutions. Winners will advance to four regional tournaments, December 9-10, at Maples Pavilion, Stanford University,host; Qwest Center Omaha, University of Nebraska, host; Rec Hall, Pennsylvania State University, host; and G. Rollie White Coliseum, Texas A & M University, host. The four regional winners will meet for the championship December 15 and 17. Third-place matches will not be played at any session of the tournament. Competition will be single-elimination, best three-of-five-game matches.