About the University of ArkansasArkansas opened Southeastern Conference action with a split against a pair of Eastern Division opponents. The Lady’Backs fell in four to fifth-ranked Florida Friday and followed up with a convincing three-set win over Georgia Sunday.
Hey, get in the gameArkansas head coach Chris Poole has had the opportunity to play 12 of 13 players on this season’s roster. The only player not to see court time is redshirt freshman Christina Lawrence. The Lady’Backs have used five other freshman in the lineup and Poole likes the confidence of the newcomers. Jessica Dorrell has been among the team’s leaders on the offense. She ranks among the team leaders with 96 kills and a 2.34 kill per game average in her first season of collegiate play. Amanda Eskridge has been seeing more court time as well. She has 135 assists and three blocks. The other freshmen are all defensive specialists. Kelli Cole, Ashley Miller and Ashley Wiechman have all contributed this year.
First honor of the yearJennifer Haaser earned Green Mill Restaurant Classic all-tournament team honors at Wichita State last weekend. It is the first honor of the year for the Lady’Backs. It is the fifth all-tournament team honor for the Fort Smith, Ark., native. Haaser earned all-tournament team honors at the 2001 SEC Tournament as well as the Morning News Invitational (2002), the SMS Fall Invitational (2002) and the Quality Inn Tiger Invitational (2003).
Make it two in a rowHaaser continued to play well at the C&C Services Invitational earning her second all-tournament team selection in row. Haaser hit .300 with 44 kills and a 4.00 kill per game. She also had 15 digs and 22 blocks for Arkansas.
Can you dig it? Freshman Ashley Miller paced the Lady Razorbacks with a career-best 26 digs against Houston at the C&C Services Invitational. That ties the Vacaville, Calif., native for sixth all-time and is also sixth in four game matches at Arkansas. She stepped up again against No. 5 Florida recording 25 against the Gators.
Amy in the sky with diamondsSophomore Amy Allison snuck up on No. 9 Illinois hitting a career-best .647 against the Illini. Allson did not commit a hitting error and finished the match with 11 kills in 17 attempts.
Better blocking for ArkansasThe Lady Razorbacks stepped up witha season-best 18 blocks against No. 9 Illinois at the C&C Services Invitational Sept. 17-18. It was the fourth time in nine matches Arkansas has posted double-digit block totals. The Lady’Backs recorded 10 in the opener against Kansas and had 11 at No. 22 Santa Clara. Arkansas has 13 blocks against Houston in the first match of the C&C Services Invitational followed by the 18-block performanced against No. 9 Illinois. The Lady’Backs were again in double-digits to open SEC play with 15 against Georgia.
About the team recordThe 3-8 start is the worst start in the 11-year school history. Arkansas was 2-6 in both 2000 and 2001. Arkansas finished the 2000 season with a 16-14 record while the Lady’Backs were 21-12 in 2001.
Tough schedule to start the yearThe Lady Razorbacks open 2004 with nine of their 10 first opponents ranked or getting votes in the USA Today/American Volleyball Coaches Association. Here’s a look at how those 10 teams have faired to date.
|No. 21 Kansas||10-2 overall, 1-2 in Big 12|
|Pacific||7-3, 2-1 Big West, defeated No. 18 LBSU, votes in preseason poll|
|No. 17 Santa Clara||7-2, moved up to No. 17 from No. 21 this week|
|Michigan State||5-5, 0-2 Big Ten, votes in preseason poll|
|No. 3 Washington||10-2, 2-0 Pac-10, defeated No. 2 USC, No. 10 UCLA|
|Wichita State||7-4, 4-0 in Missouri Valley, votes in preseason poll|
|Ball State||7-6, 1-1 Mid-Cont., got votes in preseason poll|
|Houston||1-9, lost nine straight|
|No. 13 Illinois||9-2, 1-1 Big Ten|
|No. 5 Florida||10-1, 2-0 in SEC|
Home on the RangeBarnhill Arena has always been a friend to Lady Razorback teams. Since its birth as one of the top basketball facilities to its new home for volleyball and gymnastics Barnhill has provided its teams with winning records. The Lady’Back volleyball team is 126-30 (prior to the Mississippi match) in Barnhill all-time. Arkansas’ best season at home was a 17-2 season in 1998 – the year the Lady’Backs reached the Sweet 16 in the postseason. The Lady’Backs have never had a losing season in Barnhill and are 2-4 this year.
Longest home stand of the yearThe C&C Services Invitational marked Arkansas’ return to Barnhill Arena after two weekends on the road. It also signaled the start of the longest home stand on the year. Arkansas hosted the C&C Services Invitational Sept. 17-18, followed by the start of Southeastern Conference action last weekend with No. 5 Florida and Georgia (Sept. 26). The home stand ends this weekend with Mississippi (Oct. 1) and Mississippi State (Oct. 3).
About MississippiIt was a milestone afternoon for one Lady Rebel despite a tough loss to South Carolina Sunday, as Elena Garcia broke the 1,000 mark in digs for her career in the second game of the match. Ole Miss (7-6, 0-2 SEC) fell to the Gamecocks 3-0 (26-30, 25-30, 24-30) in the most aggressive match for the Lady Rebels since the opening weekend of play when Ole Miss claimed the Magnolia Invitational. Garcia led the Lady Rebels with 11 digs on the night, pushing her career total to 1,005 digs. Jaclyn Toohey led the Ole Miss attack with 12 kills on the day, as she hit .345 for the match. Arkansas versus the Lady Rebels Arkansas has always played well against Mississippi. In fact, the Lady’Backs own a 20-1 all-time record against the Lady Rebels with Mississippi’s only win coming in a five-game match in 1996 in Oxford. Arkansas has won 14 in a row including the last two meetings in three games.
About Mississippi StateMississippi State is coming off a big weekend to open SEC play. The Bulldogs traveled to South Carolina and stunned the Gamecocks in three on USC’s home court Friday. The win snapped a 12-match Carolina winning streak and was just the second time the Bulldogs have won their SEC opener. The Bulldogs concluded the weekend with a three-set loss at No. 24 Tennessee in Knoxville.
Arkansas versus the BulldogsOne of the few teams that has never defeated Arkansas, the Lady Razorbacks hold a 21-0 series advantage over Mississippi State. Arkansas has won 17 of those meetings in three games but State pushed Arkansas to a fourth game last year in Starkville. MSU is much improved entering the weekend with an 8-6 overall record and a 1-1 SEC mark.
A look at the numbersArkansas’ numbers continue to improve as the season progresses. They will again have their hands full this weekend as Southeastern Conference play continues with Mississippi and Mississippi State. Here’s a quick numerical comparison between the three teams.
One, Two, Three, Four, FiveThe Lady Razorbacks have played two five-game matches this year and are 1-1 in those contests. Last year, Arkansas was 3-1 in five-game matches. The Lady’Backs are 26-25 all time (25-24 prior to the 2004 season) in five-game matches.
Career Records WatchJennifer Haaser, the lone senior on the Lady’Backs’ team this year, continues to climb up in the career records lists. She reached the 1000th career kill mark against Illinois Sept. 18th and is currently ninth with 1031 career kills. She ranks 10th for total attempts with 2531, eighth with 91 service aces, tied for third with 82 block solos, fourth in block assists with 432 and fourth for total blocks with 514. Other Lady’Backs in the top 10 include Denitza Koleva who is 15th in kills with 487, Kele Brewer who is 17th in kills with 397 and Karla Crose who is 20th with 261. Koleva is 10th in total attempts (1381) and Brewer is 12th (1181). Setter Iva Docekalova ranks sixth iin assists (560) and is seventh in service aces (92). She is third in sapg (0.33) and first in service attempts (1389) followed by Haaser in second (1239).
Arkansas picked to defend Western titleThe University of Arkansas volleyball team was selected to defend its Southeastern Conference Western Division title in a vote of the league’s coaches. Arkansas has dominated the Western Division winning nine of 10 possible titles. The Lady Razorbacks have been selected to win the West in 10 of 11 preseason polls earning nine first place votes and tallying 58 points. (See page two for the complete SEC preseason poll.)
All-Conference returners lead teamThe Lady Razorbacks return three all-SEC selections from a year ago. Back is lone senior and two-time all-SEC selection Jennifer Haaser. Sophomore Denitza Koleva was a second-team selection was the SEC co-freshman of the year last season while teammate Kele Brewer earned selection to the first-ever all-SEC team.
Poole begins 11th seasonArkansas head coach Chris Poole begins his 11th season as the only skipper the program has ever known. The Heber Springs, Ark., native has amassed a 252-108 record at Arkansas including a 123-29 record in Southeastern Conference play.
Lady’Backs dominate SEC Western DivisionTo say Arkansas is successful against Western Division teams is a bit of an understatement. Since adding volleyball in 1994 the Lady Razorbacks have won nine of 10 SEC Western Division titles (surrendering the crown to Alabama in 2000). Arkansas has a 93-6 record against the West during the regular season and is a perfect 7-0 against divisional opponents at the SEC Tournament. The Lady Razorbacks were perfect against the West the previous two seasons with a 10-0 record in 2002 and a 9-9 mark last year. The Lady Razorbacks lead in nearly every statistical category as well. Here’s a quick look:
Speaking of the SECThe Lady Razorbacks finished the year ranked in every statistical category in the Southeastern Conference last year. Arkansas was first in the league in blocking averaging 3.21 blocks per game in 2003. The Lady Razorbacks were second in hitting with a .275 mark, in opponent hitting percentage at .169, in service aces with a 2.13 sapg mark and in win/loss percentage with a .938. Arkansas was fourth in assists averaging 14.05 apg, third in kills with a 15.84 mark and sixth in digs with a 14.22 average.
Up NextThe Lady Razorbacks host Mississippi Oct. 1 followed by Mississippi State Oct. 3, ending the longest home stand of the year. Arknasas has back-to-back road weekends approaching traveling first to Auburn (Oct. 8) and Alabama (Oct. 10), followed by an Eastern Division swing at Georgia (Oct. 15) and No. 5 Florida (Oct. 17).