FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team begins a five-match home stand Friday with a Southeastern Conference meeting with Auburn. First serve of the Western Division matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. Arkansas closes out the weekend Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. match versus Georgia. The Razorbacks enter the weekend with an 11-7 overall record and a 3-4 mark in conference play.
"From our end, we have to organized and stay consistent," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "Those are the things that it will come down to in this last half of the season. The question is who can stay steady for the longest stretch of time because everybody knows everybody by this point of the season."
In its last outing, Arkansas posted a straight-set victory on the road against South Carolina. Jasmine Norton had a double-double effort with 11 kills and 11 digs and Amanda Anderson had a season-high 12 kills with a career-best .667 (12-0-18) hitting percentage. Kasey Heckelman and Kelli Stipanovich led the team’s defense at the net with seven and six total blocks, respectively. As a team, Arkansas finished the match with 10 service aces.
For her weekend performance at South Carolina and No. 13 Florida, Stipanovich was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. The conference recognition is the first career weekly honor for the Razorback senior. Stipanovich is the sixth player in program history to earn SEC defensive accolades.
Offensively, Stipanovich paces the team with 3.41 kills per set, the seventh-best figure in the SEC. Janeliss Torres-Torres and Anderson are ranked eighth and 10th in the SEC in hitting percentage, respectively. Anderson is tops in the SEC with 0.46 service aces per set. Setter Raymariely Santos is sixth in the conference with 9.62 assists per set.
Collectively, the Razorbacks continue in their role as one of the top defensive teams in the SEC. Arkansas holds its opponents to a .176 hitting percentage, the third-lowest mark in the conference. The team is also third in the league in blocks (2.45 b/s) and service aces (1.44 a/s). The Razorbacks are sixth in the SEC with a .230 team hitting percentage.
Last weekend, Norton moved into 12th place on Arkansas all-time kills list with 1,133 career kills while Stipanovich is now tied with Christina Lawrence (2004-08) for 14th on the career list with 1,109 career putaways.
In the all-time series between Arkansas and Auburn, the Razorbacks hold a 29-6 advantage overall and own a 13-3 record in matches played in Fayetteville. Last season, Auburn won both matches and has won three of the last four in the series. Five of the last six meetings between the two teams have gone the distance to five sets.
The Razorbacks also have the advantage in the all-time series with Georgia. Arkansas has won 16 of the 23 meetings between the two teams, including a pair of victories last season. The team is 7-3 against the Bulldogs in Fayetteville.
"I certainly expect our players to be excited to be home," Pulliza said. "We’re at home for five matches in a row so they’ll be able to truly unpack, at least for a little bit. They’re definitely excited about that."
Arkansas hosts Auburn and Georgia this weekend at Barnhill Arena. During the five-match home stand, the Razorbacks will also face Western Division foes Ole Miss, Alabama and LSU. The Oct. 26 matchup with LSU will be televised by ESPNU.
Log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com for match-day coverage including an interactive blog, stats and live stream. Students attending volleyball matches are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter Barnhill Arena.