Lady’Backs open at Sooner Legends Nike InvitationalArkansas officially opens the season at the Oklahoma Tournament facing the host Sooners, Idaho and North Carolina.Arkansas in season openersArkansas is 9-3 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 3-1 on a neutral court.Arkansas downs Alumni in threeThe Lady Razorbacks notched a hard-fought three-game win over the Arkansas Alumni Saturday in Barnhill Arena. Senior Denitza Koleva led all hitters with 16 kills, while redshirt freshman Destiny Clark added 12. Junior Jessica Dorrell was the other Lady’Back in double-digits with 10. Freshman Catherine Fowler paced the team with eight total blocks in the scrimmage victory.Setter SwitchArkansas added volleyball in 1994 and ran a 6-1 offense behind the setting and blocking skills of freshman Tina Rico. Rico ran the 6-1 for four seasons followed by setter Ning Zhao who also ran the 6-1. Since Zhao Arkansas has set by committee running a 5-2 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.About OklahomaOklahoma finished last season with a 7-22 record and an 2-18 mark in Big 12 play. The Sooners return six starters and 11 letterwinners to a very deep team. The Sooners return five seniors this year – the most ever under the current head coach.OU’S Santos Honored EarlyOklahoma senior Eliane Santos was selected to the preseason All-Big 12 team The 6-5 middle blocker was picked by the league’s head coaches and was one of 13 players voted to the squad.Arkansas versus the SoonersArkansas leads the all-time series record 2-0 and won the last meeting in 2002 in three games.About IdahoIdaho went 16-14 and 8-8 in the Western Athletic Conference last year under sixth-year head coach Debbie Buchanan. The Vandals return nine letterwinners and five starters from a year ago.Arkansas versus the VandalsThe is the first meeting between Arkansas and Idaho.About North CarolinaNorth Carolina reached the first round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago, finishing with a 23-10 record. The were 18-4 in Atlantic Coast Conference action and return 10 letterwinners and four starters from 2005.Arkansas versus the Tar HeelsArkansas trails in the all-time series 0-1 with the Tar Heels winning the only meeting in 2003 in four games.The home openerArkansas returns home hosting the Arkansas Invitational Aug. 31-Sept. 2, welcoming Sacramento State, Stephen F. Austin and Southeast Missouri StateArkansas in home openersThe Lady Razorbacks are 11-1 all-time in home openers. The lone loss came in 2004 against Kansas in Barnhill Arena.New-look SEC scheduleThe 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 scheduleTelevision 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 MatchesThe 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 to the right.In SEC-Only MatchesArkansas 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’BacksArkansas 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…Kill RecordsArkansas 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 1,139 and Brewer at 1,012 as the season begins. Koleva ranks ninth while Brewer is 11th all-time.Dig RecordsAshley 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 fifth all-time for career digs (1,058) and is one of just six Lady’Backs who have more than 1,000 career digs.Injury bug bites earlyArkansas 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.Lady’Backs, Poole ready for start of seasonAs the 2006 season approaches and a new senior class steps into the limelight, we find that their goals are really no different than the countless classes that came before them. Get to the next level. The difference this year at Arkansas is that the senior class has done something about that goal. They have re-dedicated themselves to an off-season training program in the hope of leading this year’s edition of the Arkansas volleyball team one step further. Arkansas put a solid season in the books last year with the program’s ninth 20-win season in 12 years of volleyball. The team won a share of the Southeastern Conference Western Division title for the 11th time and earned the program’s eighth selection to the NCAA Tournament – the 10th post-season trip in program history. In addition, individual honors were numerous highlighted by another solid blocking effort as Arkansas finished first in the SEC and 12th in the nation with 3.28 blocks per game. Last year’s rising junior Amy Allison also led the SEC and was second in the country as an individual in blocking with 1.83 bpg and returns this year as a senior with bigger goals in mind. This year’s senior class also includes a pair of outside hitters in Kele Brewer and Denitza Koleva. Their storied careers were successful from the first moment the duo set foot on campus. Koleva earned SEC Freshman of the Year honors and both have earned multiple individual honors. The senior class has amassed a 65-35 record and a 36-12 SEC mark winning 75 percent of their league matches. They have helped Arkansas to the three NCAA Tournament appearances reaching the second round twice and captured three SEC Western Division titles, reaching the finals of the SEC Tournament in 2003. Despite all of the success, this year’s team wants even more and the corps of senior leadership combined with a hungry underclassmen base is bound to help Arkansas reach this year’s goals.