Arkansas opens SEC play this weekThe Lady Razorbacks open Southeastern Conference play this weekend hosting SEC West-leading Ole Miss who is 10-1 on the year on Friday at 7:00 p.m. The weekend continues with LSU Sunday. The Tigers are 8-1 and in second place in the SEC West.
Non-Conference schedule over – almost Arkansas’ 2007 non-conference schedule seemed to fly by. The Lady Razorbacks played to a 6-4 non-conference mark. After starting the year 6-1, Arkansas dropped its last three non-SEC matches. The Lady’Backs have one more non-conference match remaining during the regular season. Arkansas hosts Connecticut Nov. 24, prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament.
Dorrell makes it three in a row Senior Jessica Dorrell made it three in a row earning all-tournament team honors at the Varney’s KSU Invitational. Dorrell earned tournament MPV honors at both the Arkansas Clarion Inn Invitational and the Jefferson Cup. Dorrell leads the team with 168 kills, 4.42 kills per game and is hitting .299 for the year.
Arkansas enjoys SEC openers – sort of The Lady Razorbacks have a 7-6 record in SEC season openers. Although its nice to have more wins than losses, the Lady’Backs are just above .500 in the first league match of the year. On the plus side, however, is that despite the slow start, Arkansas finishes well having won 11 SEC Western Division titles.
Is it better at home? A little. Arkansas is 4-3 in SEC home openers and 4-2 in the first SEC road match of the season.
SEC starts strong The Southeastern Conference is out to a great start in 2007. The league has a combined 76-26 record for the non-conference schedule. The Eastern Division is 36-7 paced by Florida who is 7-0. The Gators are closely followed by Georgia who is 8-1. The Bulldogs were in the Eastern Division basement last year. The Western Division has played more matches and has a 40-19 (.678) mark. Arkansas’ Friday night opponent, Ole Miss, leads the West with a 10-1 mark followed by Sunday’s foe LSU at 8-1. Auburn is third with an 8-3 mark followed by Arkansas, Mississippi State and Alabama. The Crimson Tide are the only team in the SEC to start the year below .500. Alabama is 3-6 this year.
Miller gets recordSenior Ashley Miller started the season with 1556 career digs and was in second place among all of Arkansas’ players. Miller surpassed the previous mark in the first game against No. 22 Kansas State and finished the weekend in the top spot. Miller has 162 heading into the start of SEC play giving the Vacacaville, Calif., native 1,7181 career digs. The previous record was 1,659 held by Krystal Osborne (1994-97). Osborne played in 543 career games and was a member of the inaugural team in 1997 – before the collegiate game recognized the libero position.
Also moving on up Senior Jessica Dorrell is just outside the 1,000-kill milestone. The Aledo, Texas, native heads into the Ole Miss/LSU weekend with 971 career kills and ranks 12th all-time.
Also a good number Arkansas has used two setters to run the offense for several seasons and not since the first four years of the program have the Lady Razorbacks had a setter who set nearly every ball for four seasons (Tina Rico). That being said, reaching statistical milestones as a setter is difficult when you split time. Both of Arkansas current setters, Nicole Martin and Lindsay Scanlan, are approaching, and surpassing, the 1,000-assist milestone. Although no where near the record of 5,886 assists held by Rico, 1,000 is still a good number. In fact, only six setters have 1,000 or more assists. Martin slid over 1,000 career assists during the Northern Iowa match and has 1,008 entering the start of SEC play. Scanlan stands at 898, nearing the 1,000 mark.
Dorrell ranks among SEC leadersSenior Jessica Dorrell ranks second in the SEC this week for kills per game. The Aledo, Texas, native is averaging 4.42 kpg trailing Georgia’s Maria Taylor who leads the league with 5.54. KILLS (Minimum 2.00 per game)
By the wayArkansas faces the SEC Player of the Week in LSU’s junior outside hitter Kyna Washington. But wait, Ole Miss’ libero senior Tara Langley, is the SEC Defensive Player of the Week as well.
The 6-1 startArkansas was 6-1 to start the year, dropping the opener to Georgia Tech before winning its next six contests. The Lady’Backs were also 6-1 to start last season winning the first six before losing to No. 16 BYU at Kansas in tournament play. Arkansas has started the year 7-1 three times, 1996, 1999 and 2002.
Arkansas’ 2007 season bestsAs the season is just underway, Arkansas has set a couple of season-bests. The season-best for kills is 80 in the five-game win over Pepperdine. Arkansas also recorded 198 total attempts and 72 assists against Pepperdine as well. The season-best for aces is 19 (NSU), digs is 78 (FSU) and blocks is 15.0 (3x, FSU).
Dorrell hitting the ball wellWe noted earlier that senior Jessica Dorrell was hitting the ball well. She has recorded double-figure kills in each of Arkansas’ matches with a career-best 26 kills in the win over Pepperdine. She has also hit better than .300 in three matches this year.
Arkansas has one of its biggest classes of newcomersThe Lady Razorbacks welcome a class of six newcomers to start the 2007 season. Although the six are new to the fans and media, a couple are pretty familiar with the team. Yun (Karen) Tang, Sarah Freudenrich and Heather Royal all joined the team at semester in January and have gone through the spring workouts. Phoebe Bautista, Lauren Feilding and Hillary McCormick all arrived on campus this summer and worked Chris Poole’s summer camps.
Arkansas is the SEC’s odd team outThe SEC has 11 teams that sponsor volleyball (Vanderbilt does not have a team). Each year there is one team who does not rotate through the conference schedule with a travel partner. This year, that team is Arkansas. As a result, the Lady Razorbacks do not play a mid-week conference match. In fact, Arkansas has only one match this year that does not fall on a weekend and that is a Tuesday match against Oral Roberts Aug. 28. It also means that instead of facing Mississippi and Mississippi State in the same weekend or Alabama and Auburn, the schedule is much more varied – and travel is much more interesting.
Another SEC reminderThe SEC eliminated the conference tournament last year instead opting for a double-round robin format in which teams play each other twice during the course of the season. That format continues for the 2007 season.
Poole returns for 14th seasonArkansas head coach Chris Poole enters his 14th season at the helm of the Lady Razorbacks. Poole is the only coach Arkansas has ever known and he has guided the Lady’Backs to a 309-146 (through 9/9/07) record during his tenure. Holly Watts returns has Poole’s associate head coach and the Lady’Backs welcome the addition of Gokhan Yilmaz who joins the team as an assistant coach this fall.
Challenging schedule awaitsArkansas faces a tough non-conference schedule before jumping into the teeth of the Southeastern Conference rotation in mid-September. The Lady’Backs open with a home tournament followed by a match with NCAA Tournament participant Oral Roberts Aug. 28. Back-to-back tournaments following with the Lady’Backs traveling to Virginia for the first time in program history. They face Temple, Norfolk State and Virginia. Next the Lady’Backs head to Manhattan, Kan., for tournament play facing the host Wildcats along with Fresno State and Northern Iowa. The Lady’Backs then begin a home-and-away series with each of the SEC teams. Seven SEC teams including Arkansas made trips to the NCAA Tournament last year and most return significantly more offense than Arkansas. Those teams are Ole Miss, LSU, Alabama and Tennessee who, along with Arkansas, made it to the first round; Kentucky who advanced to the second round and Florida who was a regional finalist.
Arkansas picks up TV matchAlthough the Lady Razorbacks were not selected for an SEC match of the week, Arkansas is still making a television appearance. Sun Sports will pick up the Fayetteville match between the Lady Razorbacks and Florida. More details will follow on the times and talent.
Can I get on the internet please? Every Lady Razorback volleyball match will be carried on the internet in some capacity this year. Every Lady Razorback home match will have live stats, a live audio broadcast and a live video broadcast of the event. Fans can find those at LADYBACKS.COM. All road SEC matches will have audio on LADYBACKS.COM and most will have live stats on either the host site or LADYBACKS.COM. The radio broadcasts for all road SEC matches can also be heard in the Fayetteville area on KXUA, 88.3 FM.
Lady’Backs tabbed third in SEC WestArkansas was picked to finish third in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division the league office announced Tuesday, Aug. 14. Arkansas finished the year 16-13 last year and made its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006. The Lady’Backs return 10 players from last year’s team and welcome six newcomers for the 2007 season.