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Arkansas wraps up successful 2005 season

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas wraps up successful 2005 season

Jump to individual honors and awards
        The University of Arkansas volleyball team continued its tradition of success in 2005 winning a share of its 11th Southeastern Conference Western Division title and reaching the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in 12 seasons.
        The season saw the emergence of junior Amy Allison and redshirt freshman Christina Lawrence, both of whom established themselves in the SEC and in the nation leading Arkansas to a 21-12 record and an 11-5 mark in the league.
        The year began with three consecutive wins as the Lady’Backs captured the Arkansas Invitational title on their home court. Allison earned MVP honors with teammates Karla Crose, Denitza Koleva and Lawrence also selected to the all-tournament team. Lawrence also earned the inaugural SEC Freshman of the Week honor the following Monday.
        The schedule improved with Kansas State and Utah State at the C&C Services Invitational with Arkansas going 1-1 for the weekend. The Lady’Backs fell to Kansas State but rallied in five games downing USU.
        Koleva continued to play well and was again named to the all-tournament team along with sophomore Jessica Dorrell.
        Arkansas hit the road for the first away matches of the 2005 season at the Results Advertising Invitational in Springfield, Mo. The Lady’Backs opened with a heart-breaking four-game loss to the host but stepped up with a pair of wins the following day.
        Arkansas, trailing 0-2 against Utah, rallied winning the next three in a hard-fought come-from-behind win and then defeated Iowa State in the final match.
        Dorrell was again honored with an all-tournament team selection and libero Ashley Miller set the school record for digs in a match with 32 in the five-game win over the Utes.
        The Lady’Backs again took their 6-2 record on the road this time going West to San Diego for tournament play. Arkansas opened with a win over UNLV but dropped the next two matches to No. 18 San Diego and No. 25 Long Beach State. Miller was named to the all-tournament team.
        Arkansas returned home to Barnhill to begin SEC play with a new twist on the season. The Lady’Backs would host not only their conference opponent but would also serve as the home site for LSU and their opponent after hurricanes displaced the Tigers.
        Tennessee, who advanced to the NCAA Final Four, handed Arkansas its first SEC loss, but the Lady’Backs rebounded with a win over South Carolina to even their record.
        It was on to the Western Division with trips to Auburn and Alabama, both wins for Arkansas. The Lady’Backs got a 3-1 win over the Tigers and a 3-2 win at Alabama moving into the top spot in the division after the weekend of play.
        Allison posted a career-best 13 blocks in the win against the Crimson Tide and was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts.
        The Lady’Backs hit a snag mid-season falling in four at Kentucky and losing in five at home against St. Louis but rebounded with wins over Mississippi and Mississippi State in Barnhill Arena remaining near the top of the SEC Western Division race.
        A tough loss at fourth-ranked Florida was followed by a six-match win streak with victories at Georgia, against Alabama, Auburn and Oral Roberts at home and at Mississippi State and Mississippi.
        The Georgia victory featured an Arkansas block party with the Lady’Backs posting 23 team blocks – one shy of the school record.
        Allison earned her second SEC honor Oct. 19, while Lawrence was also honored the following week. Crose earned league defensive player of the week honors following the trip to the Magnolia State as Arkansas held on to sole possession of the SEC Western Division lead.
        Needing to win just one of their final two matches, Arkansas’ offense stalled and couldn’t come up with the W. The Lady’Backs fell at LSU and to Kentucky at home. The Tigers, who played an abbreviated schedule in Baton Rouge, were undefeated on their home court, not losing a single game all season.
        The losses dropped the Lady’Backs into a tie with LSU as the teams shared the division title.
        Because of the tie, Arkansas entered the SEC Tournament as the fourth seed overall behind Florida, Tennessee and LSU. The Lady’Backs defeated Kentucky in the first round and faced the fourth-ranked Gators on day two.
        Undaunted by the previous loss to Florida during the regular season, Arkansas pushed Florida to five games before falling, 13-15, in the final frame. The near-miss earned the Lady’Backs even more respect on the national scene and helped propel Arkansas into the NCAA Tournament.
        Allison earned SEC second-team honors and was named to the all-tournament team while Lawrence was selected to the league’s all-freshman team. Allison was also named to the SEC Good Works team for her contributions to the Northwest Arkansas community off the court.
        The Lady’Backs anxiously awaited their name during the selection show and was rewarded with a trip to Columbia, Mo., to face St. Mary’s (Calif.) in the first round. The SEC sent a league-best six teams into the post-season demonstrating the strength and improvement of the league’s members in recent seasons.
        Also earning post-season bids were Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, LSU and Kentucky.
        Arkansas opened the NCAA Tournament with St. Mary’s – a team that mirrored the Lady’Backs in many ways. Both squads were heralded as good blocking teams but Arkansas out-blocked the number two team in the nation 14.0-5.0 winning the match in three games.
        The Lady’Backs ended their season with a three-game loss to 10th-ranked Missouri on the Tigers’ home court.
        Allison continued to earn recognition with a selection to the AVCA All-Region team as an honorable mention pick. She and Koleva also earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honors as the season closed.


Individual honors and awards
Amy Allison
All-Region Honorable Mention
All-SEC Second Team
SEC All-Tournament Team
SEC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 6 [Oct. 3], Week 8 [Oct. 18])
SEC Good Works Team
ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District
Arkansas Invitational MVP
Finished second in the country in blocking

Karla Crose
 SEC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 10 [Nov. 7])
Arkansas Invitational All-Tournament Team

Jessica Dorrell
 
C&C Services Invitational All-Tournament Team
Results Advertising Invitational All-Tournament Team

Denitza Koleva
 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District
Arkansas Invitational All-Tournament Team
C&C Services Invitational All-Tournament Team

Christina Lawrence
 SEC All Freshman Team
SEC Freshman of the Week (Week 1 [Aug. 29], Week 9 [Oct. 31])
Arkansas Invitational All-Tournament Team

Ashley Miller
 
San Diego Tournament All-Tournament Team

Team
Finished 12th in the country in blocking
2005 Arkansas Invitational Title



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