Winners of five in a rowArkansas lost its first Southeastern Conference match of the year to then-fifth-ranked Florida Sept. 24, in Barnhill Arena. The Lady’Backs have since won five in a row, three at home and a pair on the road. Arkansas has SEC wins over Georgia, Mississippi, Mississippi State, at Auburn and at Alabama.
How the West was won Arkansas finds itself on top of the SEC Western Division standings for the second consecutive week after wins at Auburn and at Alabama. The Lady’Backs at 5-1 in the SEC, have wins over four divisional teams (Mississippi, Mississippi State, Auburn and Alabama) this year. Alabama is second in the West with a 303 record followed by Louisiana State and Mississippi State both with 2-4 records. Auburn and Mississippi are both 1-5 in the league this year.
Dorrell dominates the Heart of DixieFreshman Jessica Dorrell played well in Alabama last weekend helping Arkansas to wins over Auburn and Alabama. Dorrell paced Arkansas with 12 kills and hit .474 while recording a career-best seven blocks at Auburn. She stepped up again at Alabama with 13 kills, a .667 hitting percentage and two blocks leading the Lady’Backs to the four-game win. She hit .568 for the weekend in one of her best all-around series.
First Game BluesArkansas has only won the first game of the match four times all year. The Lady’Backs won game one against Michigan State but lost the match. They won game one against No. 5 Florida but also lost the match. Arkansas notched a game-one win against Georgia and again against Mississippi winning both of those matches.
Splitting TimeArkansas has recently switched to a 6-2 offense with six hitters and two setters in the lineup. The setting tandem of junior Iva Docekalova and freshman Amanda Eskridge has been good for both players as the hitting efficiency continues to improve. Docekalova has recorded 449 assists this year and is averaging 7.74 assists per game while Eskridge has 213 assists and a 5.20 apg average.
Can You Dig It? Freshman Ashley Miller stepped up early in her career and currently leads the Lady’Backs with 195 digs and a 3.31 dig per game season. Junior Iva Docekalova is chasing Miller with 121 digs and a 2.09 dpg average.
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 fared to date.
|Kansas||10-6 overall, 1-6 in Big 12; in and out of poll|
|Pacific||10-3, 7-1 Big West, votes in poll; won seven in a row|
|No. 15 Santa Clara||11-3, 2-1; ranked 15th this week|
|Michigan State||6-8, 1-5 Big Ten, votes in preseason poll|
|No. 1 Washington||13-0, 6-0 Pac-10, moved to No. 1 last week|
|Wichita State||12-4, 7-0 in Missouri Valley, votes in poll|
|Ball State||11-6, 5-1 Mid-Cont., got votes in preseason poll|
|Houston||4-12, 3-1 Conf. USA|
|No. 23 Illinois||12-3, 3-3 Big Ten; up one spot to No. 23 this week|
|No. 10 Florida||14-2, 6-0 in SEC; fell two spots after winning|
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 128-30 (as of Oct. 5, 2004) 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 4-4 this year.
On The Road AgainThe Lady Razorbacks are coming off the longest home stand of the year dating back to Sept. 17-18, and the C&C Services Invitational. Arkansas now embarked on one of the longest road stretches beginning at Auburn last weekend. The Lady’Backs have back-to-back road weekends and face four Southeastern Conference opponents away from home. Arkansas traveled to Auburn (W, 3-2; Oct. 8), Alabama (W, 3-1; Oct. 10), Georgia (Oct. 15) and No. 8 Florida (Oct. 17). The Lady’Backs opened the year with back-to-back road weekends as well traveling to Santa Clara, Calif., and Wichita, Kan.
About No. 10 FloridaThe University of Florida remains unbeaten in SEC play with recent wins over Georgia and Kentucky improving the Gators’ record to 14-2 overall and 6-0 in the league. Florida has won 136 consecutive SEC regular season matches and enters the weekend hitting .263 overall. Michelle Chatman paces Florida with a .385 hitting percentage while Jane Collymore leads the team with 279 kills and a 4.89 kill per game average.
Prime TimeThe Arkansas-Florida match will air live on the Sunshine Network Sunday, Oct. 17, at 12:00 p.m., Central; 1:00 p.m., Eastern. Larry Vettel will provide the play-by-play while Steve Babik adds color.
Arkansas versus the GatorsThe Lady Razorbacks are on the losing end of an 18-1 series record with the Gators including a four-game loss in Barnhill Arena Sept. 24.
The last time outArkansas collected 85 digs, six team blocks and had three players in double-digit kills in a four-game setback against No. 5 Florida in Barnhill Arena opening Southeastern Conference play. The Lady Razorbacks fell to 2-8 on the year and 0-1 in the SEC as the Gators improved to 9-1 overall and 1-0 in the league with the 28-30, 30-22, 30-23, 30-18 win over Arkansas. Arkansas faced its fourth ranked team and the second team in the top 10 in as many matches with the Gators on Friday. The Lady’Backs rallied knocking off Florida in the first game interrupting their streak of 80 consecutive SEC regular season games won. The Lady’Backs accomplished the feat behind freshman libero Ashley Miller’s match-high 25 digs and freshman Amanda Eskridge’s 23 assists. Three Lady’Backs were also in double-digit kill totals paced by 14 from sophomore Kele Brewer. Sophomore Denitza Koleva and senior Jennifer Haaser each added 11 for Arkansas.
About GeorgiaGeorgia enters the weekend with a 10-5 overall record and an even 3-3 mark in SEC play. Georgia is hitting .254 in all matches and .234 in SEC only matches. Alexandra Oquendo leads the team with 239 kills and a .411 hitting percentage. She has 12 aces, 41 digs and a team-best 72 blocks for the Bulldogs. Georgia had a six-match winning streak in the middle of the pre-conference schedule with wins over Elon, Louisiana-Monroe, Virginia Tech, Clemson, UCF and Bethune-Cookman.
Arkansas versus the BulldogsThe Lady’Backs lead the series with Georgia, 8-3, including a 3-0 victory in Fayetteville earlier this year. Arkansas has won the last four meetings but the match went four games in Athens last year.
The last time outArkansas put together its most complete match in recent contests hitting a near season-best .239 in the win over Georgia Sept. 26. Sophomore Denitza Koleva and senior Jennifer Haaser paced all hitters with 11 kills each while freshman Jessica Dorrell added 10 kills and hit a match-best .467. The Lady’Backs were again in double-digit blocks with 15.0 marking the fifth time this year Arkansas has posted 10 or more. Junior Karla Crose put up nine blocks to lead the team while sophomore Amy Allison added seven with both players recording six kills each.
Common opponentsArkansas has three common opponents with Florida this year, all of whom are SEC members. Both teams have defeated Auburn, Alabama and Georgia this year with the Gators winning against the Tigers and Tide in three and playing four with the Bulldogs. Arkansas also won against all three of those opponents going five with Auburn, four with Alabama and downing Georgia in three at Barnhill Arena. Arkansas and Georgia’s common opponents are Alabama, Auburn and Florida. Both teams have lost to Florida in four games while the Bulldogs have three-game wins over Bama and the Tigers.
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 Georgia and Florida. Here’s a quick numerical comparison between the three teams.
Big block continues for Lady’BacksArkansas started the season statistically slow and is still struggling with its hitting percentage. The block, however, has been a lifesaver for the Lady’Backs this year. Arkansas has tallied 84.5 blocks in conference for a 3.52 block per game average in SEC play. They have 172.5 total blocks in all matches with a 2.90 bpg average. Compare that to opponents who are averaging 1.92 bpg (46.0) against the Lady’Backs in SEC play and 2.4 bpg (139.0) in all matches.
More about the blockArkansas has recorded double-digit blocks in nine of the team’s 15 matches this year. The Lady’Backs have made it five in a row in all five SEC wins with a season-best 20 blocks against Mississippi Oct. 1. The Lady’Backs nearly matched that mark with 19.0 at Auburn.
Individual block leadersJunior Karla Crose has been in double-digit blocks twice this year. The first time came against Mississippi when Crose posted a career-best 12 (2 bs-10 ba) and again with 10 (0-10) at Auburn. Senior Jennifer Haaser has also had a double-digit block match with 12 (2-10) against No. 9 Illinois at the C&C Services Invitational in Barnhill Arena.
Blocks against the SECArkansas leads the SEC both in all matches and SEC only matches in blocking. The Lady’Backs are actually tied with South Carolina in all matches with a 2.92 bpg average. Arkansas is just a head of the Gamecocks in league matches with a 3.52 bpg mark. Carolina checks in second with a 3.50 average. Junior Karla Crose ranks fifth in all matches with a 1.31 average followed by senior Jennifer Haaser in sixth at 1.29. Crose is first in SEC only matches with a 1.88 average while Haaser is seventh with a 1.25 mark.
One point for youSenior Jennifer Haaser leads Arkansas in points scored this week. The Fort Smith, Ark., middle blocker is averaging 4.08 points per game with 241.5 points scored. It is typical for a middle to lead the team in points. Sophomore Denitza Koleva is next with the outside hitter is averaging 3.19 ppg with 188.5 total points scored. Junior Karla Crose checks in at 2.93 ppg followed by freshman Jessica Dorrell with a 2.71 ppg average.
High pointsFreshman Jessica Dorrell recorded the highest individual hitting percentage last week with a .667 mark at Alabama. Dorrell tallied 13 kills, one hitting error and had 18 attempts in the win. Senior Jennifer Haaser is in the number two spot with a .522 mark against Ball State and Dorrell is again third with a .474 mark at Auburn. Sophomore Denitza Koleva holds the season-best mark for kills in a match with 23 against Pacific earlier this year and is also this year’s leader for total attempts with 51 against Houston. Junior Iva Docekalova holds the season-best mark for assists in a match with 68 set against Pacific before Arkansas switched up the offense from a 5-1 to a 6-2. Freshman Ashley Miller holds top honors for digs with 26 against Houston, and Haaser leads the team with five service aces against Kansas in the first match of the year. Junior Karla Crose holds three of the top four marks this year in blocks. She, along with Haaser, have each recorded 12.0 blocks in a match this year.
Career Records Watch Jennifer 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 1074 career kills. She ranks 9th for total attempts with 2641, eighth with 94 service aces, third with 85 block solos, fourth in block assists with 452 and fourth for total blocks with 537. Other Lady’Backs in the top 10 include Denitza Koleva who is 15th in kills with 525, Kele Brewer who is 17th in kills with 435 and Karla Crose who is 20th with 298. Koleva is 15th in total attempts (1493) and Brewer is 16th (1320). Setter Iva Docekalova ranks sixth in assists (669) and is seventh in service aces (96). She is third in sapg (0.32) and first in service attempts (1470) followed by Haaser in second (1311).
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 season Arkansas head coach Chris Poole is in his 11th season as the only skipper the program has ever known. The Heber Springs, Ark., native has amassed a 257-109 record at Arkansas including a 128-30 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 95-6 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. Arkansas is 2-0 versus the West in 2004. Here’s a quick look at the stats prior to this year:
Up NextArkansas has an Eastern Division swing at Georgia (Oct. 15) and No. 5 Florida (Oct. 17) this week. The Lady’Backs return to Barnhill for matches against Kentucky (Oct. 22) and a non-conference tilt against Valparaiso (Oct. 24).