Lady’Backs host Arkansas Invitational
Arkansas officially opens home season hosting the Arkansas Invitational Thursday-Saturday in Barnhill Arena. The Lady’Backs welcome Sacramento State, Southeast Missouri State and Stephen F. Austin this weekend.
About last weekend
The Lady Razorbacks had a solid start to the 2006 season winning the Oklahoma Invitational. The Lady’Backs notched wins over Idaho, host OU and North Carolina.
Koleva earns MVP
Arkansas senior outside hitter Denitza Koleva was named tournament MVP last weekend leading the Lady’Backs to the title. Koleva hit .279 for the weekend with a team-leading 41 kills, a 3.42 kill-per-game average, 41 digs and 11 blocks. Koleva had 14 kills against both Idaho and Oklahoma and 13 against North Carolina.
The all-tournament team
Juniors Jessica Dorrell and Ashley Miller were also selected to the Oklahoma all-tournament team. Dorrell hit .263 with 40 kills, 3.33 kills-per-game, 17 digs and six blocks. Miller paced the team wit 53 digs including 25 digs in a three-game win over North Carolina. That is just one shy of the Arkansas three-game record that she holds.
More about Koleva
Denitza Koleva averaged a double-double for the weekend. She had 14 kills and 11 digs against Idaho, 14 kills and 16 digs against Oklahoma and 13 kills and 14 digs against North Carolina. She is averaging 13.67 kills and digs per match this year.
Miller honored by SEC
Junior Ashley Miller earned Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors the league office announced Monday. Miller, a libero from Vacaville, Calif., tallied a team-leading 53 digs leading Arkansas to a 3-0 start last weekend winning the Oklahoma Invitational. Miller earned all-tournament team honors helping the Lady’Backs to victories over Idaho, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
Miller had previously played left back but moved to middle back last weekend.
Miller’s weekend included 14 digs against Idaho in a four-game win and 14 against host Oklahoma in a five-game thriller. She tallied 25 digs in the three-game win over North Carolina, missing the three-game record of 26.
Miller has rewritten the Arkansas dig records since the NCAA implemented the libero position for collegiate volleyball in 1992. She holds the record for digs in a match with 32 set in a five-game win over Utah last year. She also holds seven of the top 15 marks including digs in a three-game match (26).
The junior holds the single-season dig record with 548 set last year and also holds the second-place mark with 510 as a freshman. She is one of just five players to record more than 1,000 career digs currently ranking fourth with 1111. She needs just 32 more to move into the number three spot all-time.
Arkansas in season openers
Arkansas is now 10-3 in season openers. Two of the three season-opening losses have come at the hands of ranked opponents (No. 2 Penn State and No. 14 Colorado State). The Lady’Backs are 5-1 when opening at home, 1-1 in away season openers and 4-1 on a neutral court.
Arkansas in home openers
The Lady Razorbacks are 11-1 all-time in home openers. The lone loss came in 2004 against Kansas in Barnhill Arena.
Arkansas added volleyball in 1994 and ran a 6-2 offense behind the setting and blocking skills of freshman Tina Rico. Rico ran the 6-2 for four seasons followed by setter Ning Zhao who also ran the 6-2.
Since Zhao Arkansas has set by committee running a 5-1 offense with two setters in the match. It appears to be more of the same in 2006 with sophomore Caira Daugherty and freshman Lindsay Scanlan sharing the duties in the Alumni match. Will the duo share setting duties all season? Stay tuned.
Ace, Ace, Baby
Arkansas’ serving is much stronger in 2006. The Lady’Backs have recorded 17 service aces already this year including 11 aces in the opener against Idaho. Even when the Lady’Backs don’t get an ace serve, the tough serve is taking opponents out of their offense.
Point me in the right direction
Arkansas has scored more points than its opponent this year. The Lady’Backs have outscored opponents 329-289 including a 90-72 margin in game one. Arkansas has outscored opponents 89-86 in game two, 80-71 in game three, 54-46 in the fourth game and, of course, 16-14, game five. Senior Denitza Koleva leads Arkansas in points per game with a 4.08 average. Junior Jessica Dorrell is second at 4.00 ppg.
Arkansas needed 58 kills and 130 attempts to win in four games against Idaho. The Lady’Backs only had one more kill, 59, in the five-game win over Oklahoma and actually had more kills, 60, in a three-game win over North Carolina.
About Sacramento State
Sacramento State enters the week with a 3-1 record with wins over Texas Tech, UTEP and Eastern Michigan. Their loss was to New Mexico State. The Hornets’ 3-1 record matches the team’s best start since the 1995 squad opened the year with a 4-0 record. The Hornets limited their opposition to a .120 hitting percentage during the tournament while averaging 18.21 digs per game.
Arkansas versus the Hornets
Arkansas trails the Hornets in the all-time series records, 0-1. The lone meeting was Sept. 16, 2004, Arkansas’ inaugural season, when the Lady’Backs fell, 3-0.
About Southeast Missouri State
It was a tough opening weekend for Southeast Missouri as the RedHawks opened 1-3 at the Ole Miss Invitational. SEMO fell to Pittsburgh, Mississippi and Arkansas-Little Rock with their lone win coming against Western Carolina. Senior Jamie Baumstark recorded a triple-double with 34 assists, 17 kills and 15 digs in Southeast’s 3-1 loss to UALR.
Arkansas versus the RedHawks
The all-time series is tied at one match each. Arkansas won the most recent meeting, 3-1, Aug. 30, 2002.
About Stephen F. Austin
Junior Traci Rohde lead the SFA Lady Jacks to a pair of victories and the tournament championship at the Hilton Albuquerque Tournament, hosted by the University of New Mexico, last weekend. Rohde notched a career-high 22 kills in SFA’s 3-1 win over Utah State (30-27, 30-20, 28-30, 30-11) Saturday morning, then put away 15 kills in the Ladyjacks’ title-clinching 3-1 win over host team New Mexico (30-19, 30-16, 28-30, 30-17) in the nightcap. The victories improve SFA’s record to 3-0 for the year. Setter JJ Jones and Rohde earned all-tournament team honors while SFA’s Lauren Railley was tournament MVP.
Arkansas versus the Ladyjacks
Arkansas leads the all-time series 3-0 against SFA. The Lady’Backs won the most recent meeting, 3-0, Oct. 16, 2000.
New-look SEC schedule
The Southeastern Conference schedule changed this year and teams will play a double-round robin. Each SEC team plays a home-and-home with the other 10 conference schools, so Arkansas travels to each of the other 10 schools this year and all travel to Fayetteville. The change brings the number of conference matches to 20, up from 16 last year.
As the season continues
Arkansas hosts a tournament the second weekend of the season. It marks the 12th time in 13 seasons the Lady’Backs have hosted a regular-season tournament. The break came in 2003. The Lady’Backs host Sacramento State, Southeast Missouri State and Stephen F. Austin in the home tournament. Arkansas is 0-1 against Sac State (1994), 1-1 against SEMO and 3-0 against SFA.
Arkansas next travels to Kansas for tournament action facing BYU and host Kansas in a pair of afternoon matches.
Another tough schedule awaits
Arkansas faces nine NCAA Tournament teams this year. The schedule is highlighted by Tennessee who reached the semifinals before being eliminated by eventual national champion Washington. Florida advanced to the elite eight and the perennial powerhouse Gators are loaded for the 2005 season. North Carolina, Sacramento State, Kansas, BYU, Kentucky, LSU and Alabama all reached the NCAA Tournament but fell in the first round.
Another note about the schedule
Television and a special promotion changed the start time of a pair of Southeastern Conference road volleyball matches.
The Lady Razorbacks travel to SEC Western Division rival Alabama on Oct. 6 in a match that was slated for a 7:00 p.m., start. That start time moved to 6:00 p.m. to accommodate the FSN (FOX Sports Net) broadcast of the match.
In addition, Arkansas’ match at Florida on Oct. 13 has been moved from a 6:00 p.m., start to 7:30 p.m., as the Gators combine the match with the first basketball practice of the season.
As last season ended…
Here’s a recap of where the Lady’Backs ranked in the final team and individual stats and standings for the SEC in 2005.
In All Matches
The Lady’Backs finished the year ranked first in blocks per game last year with a 3.28 average. Arkansas was fourth in win-loss percentage (.636), fifth in hitting percentage (.231), sixth in kills (14.86) and opponent hitting percentage (.197), seventh in assists (13.22), eighth in digs (14.72) and 11th in service aces (0.97).
Amy Allison ranked first in blocks per game in all matches averaging 1.83. Karla Crose finished her career last year and was ranked sixth (1.28), Ashley Miller ranked fifth in digs per game (4.31). Allison finished the year ranked second in the nation in blocks per game as well. See the chart at the top of this page.
In SEC-Only Matches
Arkansas was again first in SEC-only matches for blocking with a 3.26 bpg average. Arkansas ranked fourth in win-loss percentage (.688), fifth in opponent hitting percentage (.195) sixth in kills (14.56) seventh in digs (15.11), hitting percentage (.204) and assists 12.97) and 11th in service aces (1.00).
Allison again paced the league in blocks with a 1.88 bpg average. Crose was seventh (1.22). Miller ranked sixth in digs (4.29) and Denitza Koleva was eighth in service aces (.33).
Strong blocking leads Lady’Backs
Arkansas finished the year ranked 12th in the nation in blocks per game (see the chart at the bottom of the page). The Lady’Backs averaged 3.28 blocks per game as a team paced by senior Amy Allison (see the chart).
As the season begins…
Arkansas begins the year with a pair of Lady’Backs who have eclipsed the 1,000-kill plateau. Seniors Denitza Koleva and Kele Brewer both bettered the mark with Koleva at 1,180 and Brewer at 1,042 as the season begins. Koleva ranks ninth while Brewer is 11th all-time.
Ashley Miller has re-written the dig record books. She holds the school record for single match digs (32 vs. Utah) and the top two marks for individual in a single season (548, 2005; 510, 2004). Miller ranks fourth all-time for career digs (1,111) and is one of just six Lady’Backs who have more than 1,000 career digs.
Injury bug bites early
Arkansas is suffering a bit from the injury bug as the preseason practices begin. Sophomore Christina Lawrence had surgery on the second day of practice after tearing her meniscus. She is expected to be sidelined three weeks and the team is looking forward to a possible return the second week of the season.
Sophomore Kristin Seaton was lost for the season after an ATV accident this summer. She will redshirt this year but return to campus to attend classes.
Senior Denitza Koleva has been slowed with a toe injury that continues to improve each day and senior Amy Allison has been sidelined with back spasms. She is day-to-day.