About ArkansasThe University of Arkansas captured a pair of SEC Western Division wins with home victories over Alabama and Auburn in Barnhill this weekend. The victories, combined with an Alabama loss at LSU Sunday, moved Arkansas into sole possession of the SEC Western Division’s top spot with four regular season league matches remaining.
Lawrence honored by SECRedshirt freshman Christina Lawrence was selected as the SEC Freshman of the Week it was announced Monday. Lawrence tied her career-best with 17 kills against Alabama and added 12 against Auburn in a pair of wins. It is the second time this season Lawrence has been honored by the conference office. She was also selected in week one after a solid showing at Arkansas’ opening tournament. Amy Allison has also been twice named SEC Defensive Player of the Week this year.
Time’s getting tightThat’s right. Arkansas has just four regular season conference matches remaining — five total matches left before the SEC Tournament. The Lady’Backs host non-conference Oral Roberts Tuesday in a break from league action but then have three in a row on the road traveling to Mississippi State and Mississippi this weekend followed by a mid-week trip to LSU. Arkansas hosts Kentucky Nov. 13 in the final match before the league tournament in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Big week in the SECIn addition to Arkansas victories over Alabama and Auburn, a couple of other SEC teams notched important wins. Tennessee upset No. 4 Florida in five games in Knoxville allowing the Lady Vols to move to 9-3 in the SEC — tied with Arkansas. Tennessee would have an advantage over Arkansas as the Lady Vols downed Arkansas in Fayetteville in the first league match of the year. Also notching a big win was Georgia who downed South Carolina in five games. The Bulldog win moves Georgia to 3-9 and drops Carolina to that same record in conference play but gives UGA the upper hand as both teams fight to make the SEC Tournament.
But First…First things first – Arkansas hosts Oral Roberts on Tuesday. The Lady’Backs break from league action hosting a very good Golden Eagle team. ORU comes to Fayetteville with a 17-8 record and a 9-1 mark in the Mid-Continent Conference. The Golden Eagles are hitting .220 as a team paced by Ori Zuzic, Jackie Oliverira and Kim Snow. Zuzic leads the team with 409 kills and a 4.09 kpg average. Oliverira has 283 kills and a 2.98 kpg average followed by Snow with 223 kills and a 2.61 average. Defensively, ORU is averaging 2.00 blocks per game and 15.72 digs per game.
More about ORUAlthough Arkansas leads the series 8-5 all-time, it’s only been recently that the Lady’Backs have had any success against ORU. When Arkansas added volleyball in 1994, ORU played as an independant and was a regular on the NCAA Tournament sceen.
Another way to get 1,000Sophomore Ashley Miller is also fast-approaching 1,000 — digs that is. The Vacaville, Calif., native enters the ORU/Magnoia State week with 932 career digs, needing just 68 more for the magic number. Should she reach 1,000, Miller will be the sixth player in that exclusive club joining Krystal Osborne, Yarleen Santiago, Kim Storey and Tina Rico. Osborne holds the record with 1659.
A helping handSenior 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 on the verge of a record-setting season nearing 2,000 career assists. The Brno, Czech Republic native has 1626 career assists heading into the ORU match. 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 129 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 2291 in her career for a .957 service percentage.
Allison and Crose push blocking recordsAmy Allison currently ranks 12th for career block solos with 31 prior to the ORU match. She is ninth overall for block assists with 294 and 10th for total blocks with 325. Allison is fifth for blocks per game averaging 1.21 for her career.Senior Karla Crose is also moving up the blocking records list ranking sixth for block assists with 364 and she is seventh for total blocks with 384 for her three-year career as a Lady’Back. She is seventh for blocks per game with a 1.14 bpg average.
The Western WallArkansas has had 19 of their 24 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 is third in the country with a 1.86 block-per-game average last week.
About Mississippi StateMississippi State enters the week 11-9 overall and 2-8 in the SEC and fighting for a spot in the league tournament. This is a must-win match for State with just four league matches remaining. State is hitting .209 as a team paced by Orshi Kriegel and Rachel Cooper, the only two players with more that 200 kills this year. Miss State has two conference wins coming against Auburn and in-state rival Mississippi. The Bulldogs and Rebels met mid-week before Arkansas travels to the Magnolia State.
Arkansas versus the BulldogsArkansas is a perfect 24-0 against Mississippi State including a three-game win in Fayetteville earlier this year. The Lady’Backs are 11-0 in Starkville although State pushed Arkansas to five last year after the Bulldogs won the first two games. Arkansas rallied winning the next three to remain unbeaten against the Bulldogs. This year, Arkansas won in Fayetteville, 30-22, 30-24, 30-28.
About MississippiMississippi began the season strong winning six of their first nine matches of the year. A win over Arkansas State was followed by eight consecutive losses and the Rebels have lost 14 of their last 15. Their lone win came against Auburn and stands as their only SEC win of the year. The Rebels are hitting just .184 as a team paced by Nikki Hill and Jaclyn Toohey, both averaging more than three kills per game. Arkansas and Mississippi have already faced each other once this year with Arkansas winning in three games, 30-21, 30-27, 30-18, in Barnhill.
Arkansas versus the Lady RebelsArkansas has a 22-1 series advantage over the Lady Rebels with the lone Mississippi win coming in 1996 in Oxford. Arkansas has won the last 16 in a row and is 9-1 in Oxford.
Arkansas against the Bulldogs and RebelsThis year’s senior class (Iva Docekalova and Karla Crose) are a perfect 13-0 against Mississippi and Mississippi State. Docekalova played as a freshman in 2002 helping Arkansas to a 4-0 mark meeting each team twice during the regular season. Crose redshirted that season after transferring in from Indiana. Arkansas was 4-0 in 2003 and 3-0 last year. The Lady’Backs, due to a change in the SEC schedule, only faced Mississippi once last year. Add to that a pair of wins this year in Fayetteville with two more to play on the road this season.
Arkansas picked to win SECThe 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 and the SEC Western DivisionThe 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 a perfect 7-0 (Auburn [2x], Alabama [2x], LSU, Miss and MSU) this year bettering the numbers to 116-7 for a .943 winning percentage.
Double Me UpJunior Denitza Koleva leads the team with 20 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 14 of Arkansas’ 24 matches this year with double-doubles (kills and digs) in 12 matches as well.
More about doublesJessica Dorrell has posted nine matches with double-digit kills. Christina Lawrence has had 10, Amy Allison nine, Kele Brewer 13 and Karla Crose eightmatches with double-figure kill totals.
A double in another wayJunior 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 itSophomore Ashley Miller has posted double-digit dig totals in 22 of Arkansas’ 24 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 last week.
Moving on upArkansas remained in third place in this week’s AVCA regional rankings (see complete list on next page). The Lady’Backs trail No. 4 Florida and Tennessee but are ahead of the rest of the Southeastern Conference in the standings.
Also upArkansas has also moved to No. 29 in the RichKern.com RKPI rankings. The RKPI is not the official rpi rating used by the NCAA but uses a similar formula and is widely used until NCAA Tournament time.
Turkey Day surpriseArkansas 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.
Up NextArkansas continues its SEC schedule traveling to Mississippi State Nov. 4, Mississippi Nov. 6 and LSU Nov. 9. Arkansas concludes the SEC regular season hosting Kentucky Nov. 13, in the final home match of the year.