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Home SEC weekend opens with Auburn

Home SEC weekend opens with Auburn
FAYETTEVILLE — Off a successful road trip last weekend, the University of Arkansas volleyball team returns to Barnhill Arena Friday evening for a Southeastern Conference match against Auburn. First serve of the Western Division matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT). The Razorbacks enter the weekend with an 11-3 overall record and a 2-1 mark in league play. Single-match tickets are $4, while fans 17 years and younger are admitted for free. University of Arkansas students attending volleyball matches this season are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter Barnhill Arena. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Night, pre-match music from the University of Arkansas’ “South American Ensemble” will entertain the crowd prior to first serve. “It’s exciting to be back home in front of our fans at Barnhill Arena,” head coach Robert Pulliza said. “Now, we just have to get back into the groove against a tough Auburn team that is 12-2 (overall) and has been on a roll. We will have our hands full Friday. The fans can expect an unbelievable match. Auburn is a lot of fun to watch, like we are. They have some big arms with their attackers and are physical so we expect a great match with an exciting atmosphere.” Arkansas leads the all-time series with Auburn, 31-6, and has won 15 of 18 head-to-head matches played in Fayetteville. Last season, the Razorbacks won both matches with a four-set win at Barnhill Arena on Oct. 14 and a sweep of the Tigers on Nov. 6 on Auburn’s home court. Behind 1.57 blocks per set last weekend during Arkansas’ road sweep at No. 21 Tennessee and Georgia, Janeliss Torres-Lopez was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. She helped anchor the Razorback defense to limiting the opponents to a .117 hitting percentage. Collectively, Arkansas is third in the SEC by holding its opponents to a .163 hitting percentage. “We’re more mature this year,” Pulliza said. “With maturity comes more organization, and with organization comes more defensive pressure. Obviously, we’re stronger and more physical so those things do come into play. We’ve added some great defensive players which is something we talked about earlier in the year. We’re starting to see those players make a difference to help us put some defensive pressure on the other team.” In the most recent release of the NCAA statistic rankings, the Razorbacks are 27th in the country with their .262 hitting percentage. Arkansas is also 32nd in the NCAA with 14.20 kills per set and 45th in the nation with 13.00 assists per set. Through its first three matches of conference play, Arkansas is hitting .280 against SEC teams. Jasmine Norton and Raymariely Santos remain tied for second place in the SEC with eight double-doubles each. They have registered double-double performances in the same match five times this season, including last weekend’s four-set win in Knoxville against the Lady Volunteers. Norton had 12 kills and 12 digs, while Santos tallied 38 assists and 11 digs. Arkansas is receiving nine votes in this week’s release of the AVCA Top 25 coaches’ poll, making the team’s second appearance in the national rankings this season. The Razorbacks were previously receiving votes in the Sept. 3 poll following a 3-1 week in which the team swept Tulsa and won two of three at the adidas/Michigan Challenge in Ann Arbor. Auburn enters the weekend with a 12-2 overall record and a 3-1 mark in SEC play. The Tigers own the top spot in the Western Division and have won four of their last five matches. Auburn is paced offensively by Sarah Bullock and Katherine Culwell at 3.43 and 3.12 kills per set, respectively. The Tigers are holding their opponents to a .161 hitting percentage this season, the second-lowest figure among SEC teams. After their weekend opener against Auburn, the Razorbacks will return to the court Sunday afternoon to take on LSU at Barnhill Arena. The match will be broadcast live by Cox Sports Television (CST) with Jacob Haertl and Maria Taylor handling the commentary duties. First serve of Sunday’s match is scheduled for 1 p.m. For weekend coverage of Razorback volleyball, including interactive blog, live stats and video stream, please visit Fans can also keep up with Razorback volleyball this season with its sport-specific RazorbackVB Twitter and Facebook pages.

Download: Match Notes 8_Auburn and LSU.pdf

Sports Category : Volleyball (W)