FAYETTEVILLE — Riding high on a pair of big Southeastern Conference wins, the University of Arkansas volleyball team hopes to continue its success this weekend on the road at No. 25 LSU and Ole Miss.
Arkansas comes off a pair of big SEC wins. taking down No. 5 Florida and South Carolina last weekend to even the Lady’Backs’ overall record at 10-10 and improved the team to 4-6 in the SEC. This week, Arkansas begins the second half of league play with a Friday contest at No. 25 LSU, a team who defeated the Lady’Backs in the first meeting.
The Lady Razorbacks have their hands full for several reasons. A young, somewhat inexperienced team, Arkansas has battled both its youth and injury in the first half of the season.
But that youth has gained valuable experience and has turned things around in recent matches winning four of the last five contests.
"We’ve had a great couple weeks," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "But just because we did we die last week, doesn’t mean we’re a new, older more experienced team all of a sudden. We still have some of our same issues but the confidence we’ve gained has helped us.
"Our goal right now is win seven or eight more matches to close out the season," Poole continued. "We are going to continue to play hard and see what happens down the stretch."
Arkansas has a couple go-to players including senior Jessica Dorrell and junior Christina Lawrence. The duo has paced the Lady Razorbacks for much of the season but an unexpected injury to Lawrence sidelined the Sullivan, Mo., native for a couple matches.
The Lady’Backs used a balanced attack behind Dorrell that included freshman middle Sarah Freudenrich and freshman hitter Heather Royal who both elevated the games to the next level.
Arkansas also got improved play from senior libero Ashley Miller who anchors the defense, along with sophomore middle Catherine Fowler who has become more consistent over the last few weeks.
Add to the mix a pair of setters in junior Nicole Martin and sophomore Lindsey Scanlan and Arkansas’ balance is evident.
LSU enters the week tied with Ole Miss on top of the SEC’s Western Division. The teams face each other Wednesday in a match that could determine the Western Division champion.
"The SEC is brutal this year," said Poole. "The parity has been incredible. It’s amazing how many five-game matches there has been this year. We know that LSU has had to put a lot of attention into getting ready for Ole Miss Wednesday but LSU is an experienced team who has had a lot of success lately. This is going to be a tough weekend."
Both of Arkansas’ weekend contests can be heard live in Northwest Arkansas on KXUA, 88.3 FM and on the internet at LADYBACKS.COM.