FAYETTEVILLE — It was a big Monday for the University of Arkansas volleyball team.
Senior Jessica Dorrell earned Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honors, the Lady’Backs earned 10 votes in the CSTV/American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 poll and they are preparing to host Oral Roberts University in a non-conference border war on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 7:00 p.m., in Barnhill Arena.
“That’s just great for Jessica,” said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. “She played really well and has done a good job early of stepping into the senior leadership role. I’m glad her accomplishments were recognized.”
Dorrell earned Arkansas Clarion Inn Invitational MVP honors after opening the year with a career-best 19 kills against Georgia Tech. She bettered that mark with 26 in a thrilling five-game win over Peppderdine. The Aledo, Texas, native hit .339 for the weekend and averaged 5.50 points per game. In addition, Dorrell tallied a career-best 14 digs against the Waves.
Arkansas opened the season with a 2-1 mark with wins over Pepperdine and Pittsburgh and a hard-fought, first-match loss to Georgia Tech. The solid play earned Arkansas 10 votes in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Monday. Pepperdine remains ranked ahead of Arkansas with 63 votes.
The Lady’Backs’ inclusion in the poll brings the total number of SEC teams to five. Florida leads the league ranked seventh in the country. LSU follows at No. 22 while Tennessee is just ahead of Arkansas with 29 votes. Ole Miss rounds out the SEC representation with four votes.
Although all of the accolades are nice, Arkansas still has a challenging match waiting for them Tuesday as Oral Roberts comes to town.
The Golden Eagles are 2-1 on the season with wins over Rice and La Tech and a loss to Lamar at the Rice Tournament last weekend. Jackie Oliveira emerged as the early season kill leader with 47 in three matches while Joanita Souza leads the team in hitting efficiency with a .329 mark and 35 kills. Souza is also the team’s leading blocker while Oliveira leads the team in digs.
The Lady’Backs lead the series 9-5 and have an early statistical edge through three matches. Arkansas is out-hitting ORU .265-.212 with more kills-per-game 16.2-14.08. ORU is digging better, 18.62-13.4, but the blocks are nearly even with the Lady’Backs holding a slight edge, 2.60-2.58.
“Oral Roberts is always a very good team,” said Poole. “They are very experienced. They have a lot of international experience as individuals before coming to ORU and play a little different style. They also have good size again this year. It should be a very challenging match for us.”
Tuesday’s match with ORU is just the beginning of a very busy week for Arkansas. The Lady’Backs practice Wednesday and board a plane Thursday for the Jefferson Cup Tournament hosted by Virginia. Arkansas faces the host Virginia, along with Norfolk State and Temple over the weekend.
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