The University of Arkansas is coming off a tough weekend at the San Diego Tournament going 1-2 against some top teams. Arkansas defeated UNLV in three but fell to No. 18 San Diego and No. 25 Long Beach State. Sophomore libero Ashley Miller was selected to the all-tournament team.
Miller continues to play well
Sophomore libero Ashley Miller set a Lady’Back record with 32 digs in a five-game, come-from-behind win over Utah two weeks ago and continued to play well last weekend at San Diego earning her first all-tournament team selection. The Vacaville, Calif., native tallied 36 digs and averaged 3.60 digs per game over the weekend. She leads the team with 184 digs and has recorded double-digit digs in all but one match (No. 25 Long Beach State, 7) this year.
Line Up Shake Up
The Lady Razorbacks had been pretty steady with the starting lineup until the San Diego weekend. A knee injury to senior setter Iva Docekalova prior to the trip saw head coach Chris Poole lift her from the court completely against UNLV, instead using freshman Caira Daugherty as the other setter in the 6-2 offense. Docekalova returned to the lineup against No. 18 San Diego but junior Kele Brewer moved into the starting lineup in an effort to throw off the Toreros. Changes continued on Saturday against Long Beach State when Arkansans Kelli Cole and Kristin Seaton earned starts.
Arkansas out-does opponents
Arkansas has been solid in nearly every statistical category this year. The Lady’Backs have out-hit opponents .257-.194, with more kills; 628-609. The Lady’Backs have almost the same assists (553-554), more digs (608-599) and more blocks (130.0-74.0) this year.
Speaking of Opponents
Arkansas has again embarked on a challenging schedule this year and their opponents are playing well. Here are a few interesting notes about recent or upcoming opponents. LSU defeated No. 8 Notre Dame in five games, while No. 16 Tennessee lost twice (Ohio and Purdue) to unranked teams in three games. Utah, a team Arkansas beat in five, defeated No. 17 Santa Clara in five, while Iowa State, a team Arkansas defeated in three games, defeated No. 18 Texas in four. Finally, Arkansas downed Utah State in five and USU defeated No. 24 UC Santa Barbara in five this weekend.
#8 Notre Dame lost to LSU 2-3
#16 Tennessee lost to Ohio 0-3
#16 Tennessee lost to Purdue 0-3
#17 Santa Clara lost to Utah 2-3
#18 Texas lost to Iowa State 1-3
#24 UCSB lost to Utah State 2-3
The Western Wall of Arkansas
Always a strong blocking team, the Lady’Backs have worked hard early this year to maintain that reputation. The Lady’Backs have out-blocked opponents 130.0 to 74.0 with 222 block assists and 19 solos to their opponents 114 and 17 respectively.
More on the block
Junior Amy Allison leads Arkansas in blocking with 68 total blocks and a 1.74 block per game average. Senior Karla Crose is second with 51 blocks (1.24 bpg) followed by sophomore Jessica Dorrell with 45 (1.10 bpg). Freshman Christina Lawrence checks in with 29 total blocks (0.76 bpg) while junior Denitza Koleva has 27 (0.6bpg).
Sharing the setting
Arkansas has been running a 6-2 offense rotating setters this year. Senior Iva Docekalova and sophomore transfer Nicole Martin have split time as the team’s setter and both have played very well. Martin has a slight statistical edge with 250 assists and a 6.10 assist-per-game average while Docekalova checks in with 238 assists and 6.26 apg. Martin has gotten all 11 starts but the duo have been on the court about the same amount of time.
Lady’Backs in the SEC West
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 in SEC Openers
SEC openers have been tough on Arkansas but the Lady’Backs have a slight, 6-5, edge over the competition. Arkansas dropped the opener last year to fifth-ranked Florida in Barnhill and the Lady’Backs are 5-1 when the SEC opener is at home. The Lady’Backs have faced Alabama the most in the league opener with a 2-1, followed by a 1-2 mark with Kentucky and a 2-0 mark with LSU. Arkansas is 0-2 in SEC openers against the Gators and 1-0 against Tennessee when they meet in the first conference match of the year.
1994 at Kentucky L 3-0 2000 at Alabama L 3-2
1995 Alabama W 3-0 2001 at Kentucky W 3-0
1996 at Kentucky L 3-1 2002 at LSU W 3-1
1997 Alabama W 3-0 2003 at LSU W 3-1
1998 Tennessee W 3-0 2004 No. 5 Florida L 3-1
1999 at No. 6 Florida L 3-0
About No. 16 Tennessee
Tennessee vaulted to No. 16 in the AVCA poll last week but suffered a pair of 3-0 losses to unranked Purdue and Ohio. Tennessee enters the weekend with a 6-3 overall record with their lone top 25 win coming against No. 21 Missouri in three. The Lady Vols are hitting .267 as a team paced by a .385 mark from middle Kristen Andre. Yuliya Stoyanova leads the team with 108 kills and a 4.32 kill-per-game average while Sarah Blum is the blocking leader with 31 total blocks and a 1.24 block-per-game average.
Arkansas versus the Lady Vols
Arkansas leads the all-time series record against Tennessee 12-5 but the Lady Vols have won two in a row with victories in Knoxville and at the SEC Tournament last year. Arkansas is 7-1 against Tennessee in Barnhill Arena.
About South Carolina
South Carolina got a new coach is Nancy Somera to start the year and the Gamecocks have responded with a 7-3 record heading into SEC play. The Gamecocks opened the year with five consecutive wins and are hitting .274 as a team. Shonda Cole leads the team with 167 kills and 4.91 kills-per-game this year.
Arkansas versus the Gamecocks
The Lady’Backs are 10-6 lifetime against South Carolina but dropped the last meeting in three in Columbia, S.C., last season. Arkansas is 4-2 against SC in Barnhill.
The Lady Razorbacks host LSU this weekend serving as the Tigers “home” venue. LSU typically competes in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center but the PMAC and surrounding areas are still being used for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. LSU hosts South Carolina at 4:00 p.m. Friday followed by a 10:30 a.m. match with No. 16 Tennessee on Sunday.
Lady’Backs Return to Airwaves
Arkansas volleyball returns to the airwaves again this year both on the internet and on KXUA, 88.3 FM. Arkansas is set to go live on KXUA at Auburn and Alabama next weekend. The matches this weekend with Tennessee and South Carolina are scheduled for an internet broadcast.
Southeastern Conference play continues for Arkansas with the Lady Razorbacks traveling to Western Division rivals Auburn (Sept. 30) and Alabama (Oct. 2) this weekend. Those matches will air live on KXUA, 88.3 FM.