An audible sigh of relief could be heard Sunday afternoon when Arkansas’ name was called for the 2006 NCAA Volleyball Tournament. The Lady Razorbacks were selected to host first and second round matches. They welcome Missouri State, Oklahoma and Oral Roberts Friday and Saturday in Barnhill Arena.
Some of the Details
The Lady Razorbacks host Missouri State (26-8) at 5:00 p.m. Friday. Oral Roberts (26-8) faces Oklahoma (26-5) in the 7:00 p.m. match Friday. The winners meet at 7:00 p.m. Saturday.
A busy weekend for the Hog faithful
In addition to three volleyball matches this weekend, Arkansas hosts a women’s basketball game against Portland State at 7:00 p.m. Friday. The men’s basketball team is at home Saturday at noon followed by the SEC Football Championship game between Arkansas and Florida Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
Seniors make it four-for-four
The three-member senior class of Amy Allison, Kele Brewer and Denitza Koleva become the first Arkansas senior class in program history to reach the NCAA Tournament all four seasons. The senior class is 2-3 in the post-season and 81-47 during their four seasons.
Koleva earns SEC Second Team
Senior Denitza Koleva earned Southeastern Conference second team honors the league announced Tuesday. Koleva was Arkansas’ go-to player in every match finishing the year with a career-best .251 hitting percentage and 4.27 kills per game. Koleva hit .256 with 4.59 kills per game in SEC play. The SEC co-freshman of the year in 2003.
Clark makes a name for herself
Arkansas redshirt freshman Destiny Clark earned selection to the SEC All-Freshman team this year. Clark earned SEC freshman of the Week honors once in 2006 and set a school record with 18 blocks in a five-game match against Mississippi. The Manhattan, Kan., native hit .275 with 1.25 blocks per game in all matches and .256 with 1.26 blocks per game in SEC only contests.
Allison honored for good works
Amy Allison was selected to the Southeastern Conference Good Works team the league announced Monday. Allison, a Jenks, Okla., native, was honored for the second time in her career as the Lady Razorbacks prepare for their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance this Friday. Allison was honored for her commitment to community service in the Northwest Arkansas area. Allison’s service includes mission trips to Mexico with the River Oaks Christian Church. She also went on mission trips to Honduras in 2005 and 2006. Allison worked with underprivileged young with the Boys and Girls Club and participated in the Adopt-A-Family program. In addition, she has volunteered her time at the Battered Woman’s Shelter and helped feed over 300 families at a local youth center in Fayetteville. She attended the Conference of Champions and is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. She reads to area youth and assisted with a canned food drive in Northwest Arkansas.
Arkansas’ NCAA Tournament history
The Lady’Backs are 7-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 2-3 under this year’s senior class. Arkansas defeated then Southwest Missouri State, ranked 23rd, in Manhattan, Kansas, and lost to No. 6 Kansas State in 2003. The following year, Arkansas lost to No. 16 and host Missouri in Columbia, and returned to Columbia in 2005 with a win over St. Mary’s and a loss to No. 16 Missouri in the second round.
SEC goes deep again
The Southeastern Conference had a then-record six teams selected to the NCAA Tournament last year. The SEC bettered that this year with seven teams getting in. In addition to the Lady Razorbacks Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi and Tennessee were all selected to the tournament. Mississippi makes its first-ever post-season appearance. Florida is the only other league team hosting first and second round matches. The Gators are also hosting a Regional the following weekend.
How many from each conference?
The Pacific-10 Conference, the Southeastern Conference, and the Big Ten Conference led all conferences with seven teams selected. The Big 12 Conference landed six teams and four conferences have three teams represented in the bracket — the West Coast Conference, Big West Conference, Mountain West Conference and Big East Conference. Three teams, Penn State, Stanford and the University of California, Santa Barbara, have earned bids to all 26 championships. Five teams are making their initial appearances in the tournament: Saint Louis University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, St. John’s University (New York), University of Mississippi, and Belmont University.
How does the field shape up?
Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 33 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. The top 16 teams were seeded nationally and placed within four regions. The teams tabbed as the top four seeds were No. 1 the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; No. 2 Stanford University; No. 3 Pennsylvania State University; and No. 4 University of California, Los Angeles.
Team pairings were determined by geographical proximity, with the exception that teams from the same conference were not paired during the first and second rounds. In the 26-year history of the championship, 10 schools have been crowned champion, nine of which are in this year’s bracket, including the defending champion University of Washington. Additional past winners making the field are Stanford (1992, 94, 96, 97, 2001, 04), University of Hawaii, Manoa (1982, 83, 87), Long Beach State University (1989, 93, 98), UCLA (1984, 90, 91), Nebraska (1995 and 2000), University of Southern California (1981, 2002, 03), Penn State (1999), University of Texas (1988) and Washington (2005).
Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament
The Lady Razorbacks have made nine NCAA Tournament appearances and 11 post-season appearances in the 13-year history of the program. Arkansas advanced to the NIVC Tournament in 1994 and 1995 when the NCAA field was just 32 teams.
How deep can you go?
Arkansas has gone to the NCAA Regional just once in the 13-year history of the program. The Lady’Backs downed New Hampshire and Indiana at home in the first and second rounds before falling to Hawai’i in Gainesville at the Regional.
Home Sweet Home
The Lady Razorbacks have hosted first and/or second round matches three times, firs tin 1996 and again in 1997 and 1998. The Lady’Backs hosted and defeated Rhode Island in 1996 before falling in the second round to No. 4 Nebraska in Lincoln. Arkansas defeated UALR but lost to Notre Dame in 1997 and downed UNH and Indiana in 1998.
The friendly confines
Arkansas likes playing at home. The Lady Razorbacks are 10-3 this year playing in Barnhill Arena. The three losses came at the hands of No. 4 Florida, No. 11 LSU and Mississippi all of whom earned trips to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Arkansas entered the year with a 145-35 record in Barnhill Arena. Add to that this year’s 10-3 mark and the Lady’Backs are 155-38 in their home gym giving them an .803 home winning percentage.
Arkansas downed OU
Arkansas has faced Oklahoma once this year scratching out a five-game win in Norman in tournament action Aug. 25. The game scores were 30-28, 31-29, 20-30, 24-30, 16-14. Arkansas out-hit OU .196 to .169 behind a 17-kill performance from junior Jessica Dorrell. Denitza Koleva had 14 kills and 16 digs while Kele Brewer tallied 10 kills and six digs.
What about the others?
The Lady’Backs have not faced Oral Roberts or Missouri State this year. Arkansas is 9-5 lifetime against ORU and 9-2 against Missouri State although the Bears and Arkansas are 2-2 in the last four meetings with the two losses in Springfield, Mo.
Against the field
The Lady Razorbacks are 6-10 against this year’s field of 64. The Lady’Backs have wins over Kentucky, Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin, Sacramento State, Oklahoma and Alabama. The losses have come at the hands of Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida (2x), LSU (2x), Mississippi (2x), Alabama and Brigham Young.
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. Koleva has 1579 career kills. Teammate and fellow senior Kele Brewer soon followed with her 1000th kill in 2005 and is now 10th with 1185. Also climbing: Jessica Dorrell is 15th with 787, Amy Allison is 17th with 760 and Christina Lawrence is 20th with 513.
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 4.28 average. She also became the six player in school history to reach 1,000 career digs and is currently second all-time with 1540. Senior Denitza Koleva ranks fifth with 1045 career digs and senior Kele Brewer is 19th with 525 career digs.
Senior Amy Allison continues to move up the blocking records. Allison ranks eighth in block solos with 63. Senior Denitza Koleva is 18th with 18. Allison is fifth on the block assists list with 438, followed by Jessica Dorrell who is ninth with 304, Koleva is 13th with 239 and Christina Lawrence is 20th with 179. Allison leads the team in total blocks as well with 501 to rank fifth all-time. Dorrell is 11th with 314 and Koleva is 15th with 257.
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 15th in total blocks.