RAZORBACKS CELEBRATE SENIORSThe University of Arkansas volleyball team concludes the 2008 season Saturday hosting Ole Miss on Senior Day. The Razorbacks celebrate the accomplishments of seniors Christina Lawrence, Caira Dortch and Yun Tang who suit it up for the final time in the Cardinal and White.
ARKANSAS HOSTS OLE MISSThe Razorbacks take on Ole Miss in the final match of the year. Both the Razorbacks and the Rebels are below .500 and will not receive postseason bids so pride is on the line this weekend.
LAWRENCE GOING OUT WITH A BANGChristina Lawrence saved her best for last improving statistically in nearly every category this year. Lawrence embraced Arkansas’ new system in 2008 becoming a six-rotation player for the first time in her career. She enters the weekend with single-season career-bests for kills-per-set with a 3.29 average and digs with 90. She is just shy of her career numbers with kills leading Arkansas with 283 and a .302 hitting efficiency. Lawrence has posted 14 matches with double-digit kill totals and hit .360 (10-1-25) against No. 10 Florida, a mark that might be her career-best versus a ranked opponent. In addition, Lawrence has posted a career-best 12 digs against Tennessee-Martin, 29 kills and seven blocks against Mississippi State. Lawrence has had three double-doubles with kills and digs and became the 13th player in school history to record her 1,000 career kill this year.
DORTCH SAYS FAREWELLCaira Daugherty Dortch’s career at Arkansas has been one of adjustment. She began her career in 2005 as a defensive specialist before transitioning into a setter in Arkansas’ 6-2 offense in 2006. Then Daugherty put her volleyball career on hold in 2007 during which time she got married. The Springfield, Mo., native returned to the court in 2008 and has been both a defensive stopper and setter for the Razorbacks. Dortch enters the weekend with 84 career kills for a .219 hitting percentage. She has 1165 career assists and 463 career digs with the Razorbacks. Dortch had three matches with double-digit digs totals and tallied a career-best 23 digs against South Carolina. She got on the board with her first career block finishing with four against Virginia Tech this season.
TANG WRAPS UP CAREERSenior Yun Tang had just two short seasons at Arkansas but her time with the Razorbacks was impactful. Tang saw limited action in 2007 but vastly improved her numbers in 2008. She is hitting .183 with 108 kills, 1.23 kills-per-set, has 26 digs, 90 total blocks and 1.02 blocks-per-set all of which are single-season career bests. Tang tallied a career-best 10 against Mississippi State and hit a season-best .500 versus Ole Miss. She paced Arkansas in a pair of matches against Alabama and Mississippi State in mid-October hitting .412 in each match. In just two seasons, Tang has sprinkled her name in the record books ranking tied for 17th in block solos with 20 and she is 15th in career blocks-per-set with a 1.06 average.
YOU’RE IN…NO WAIT…I’M INArkansas’ starting lineup has been a bit of a revolving door this year as first-year head coach Robert Pulliza looks for that perfect combination. The Razorbacks have had 14 different starting line ups and no lineup has won more than two matches. Of Arkansas’ seven wins, Heather Royal is the only player to have started all of those matches. Christina Lawrence and Phoebe Bautista have started six of those and Yun Tang, Kristin Seaton and Kelli Stipanovich have five starts in the seven wins.
I WIN…NO YOU WINVolleyball is a battle of numbers and usually the winning team has better numbers…But not always. Arkansas tallied more or the same number of kills in seven matches this year but the Razorbacks did not win all seven matches. Arkansas had more kills (71-54) than Tulsa but lost and had fewer kills (57-61) at Auburn and won. Arkansas out-dug opponents five times winning three of those matches and out-blocked opponents and incredible 16 times including in all seven wins.
I LOVE YOU NUMBER EIGHTThe Razorbacks rank eight in Southeastern Conference matches in nearly every quarter. This week, Arkansas is eighth in hitting percentage, assists, kills, service aces and blocks this week.
ARKANSAS IN THE SECIndividually, the Razorbacks have several athletes ranked in the conference stats. In all matches, senior Christina Lawrence ranks sixth in hitting percentage and fifth in kills-per-set. Junior Lindsay Scanlan ranks seventh in assists. In league-only matches, Lawrence ranks 10th in hitting percentage and seventh in kps. Setters Scanlan and senior Caira Dortch rank eighth and ninth, respectively, in assists-per-set. Finally, senior Yun Tang is sixth in blocks-per-set.
ABOUT OLE MISSThe Ole Miss Rebels come to Fayetteville with a 13-15 overall record and a 9-10 SEC mark. Ole Miss is led by Regina Thomas hitting a team-best .309 on the year with 184 kills and 2.30 kills-per-set. Kate Norris leads the team with 308 kills and a 3.05 kps average.
ARKANSAS VERSUS THE REBELSThe Razorbacks have the series advantage leading 23-6 but it’s been all Ole Miss lately. The Rebels have won the last five meetings between these teams including a four-set 25-15,24-26,25-21,25-18 win in Oxford earlier this year.
ABOUT THAT FIRST MEETING Arkansas (5-16, 2-8 SEC) fell to the Rebels (9-10, 5-5 SEC) 15-25, 26-24, 21-25, 18-25 as both teams completed their first pass through the 11-team league schedule. Senior Christina Lawrence paced the Arkansas hitters with 10 kills and a .227 hitting percentage. She was the lone Razorback in double-digits. Senior Yun Tang hit .500 with six kills and four blocks and junior Kristin Seaton had eight kills and nine digs. The Razorbacks hit .144 as a team while Ole Miss bettered that with a .234 mark. The Rebels out-dug (62-54) and out-blocked Arkansas (7-6) in the win.
THIS AND THATArkansas’ only consecutive wins were Lamar (Sept. 12) and Tennessee-Martin (Sept. 13)…The longest losing streak of the year was a five-match streak. It happened twice: first to start the year (Aug. 29-Sept. 6) and again in SEC play (Sept. 26-Oct. 10)…Arkansas and head coach Robert Pulliza’s first win was a three-set victory at Georgia State…Pulliza’s first SEC win as a head coach came at Auburn (Sept. 19)…Arkansas swept both Auburn and Mississippi State this year beating both teams twice.