About the University of ArkansasArkansas struggled last weekend dropping all three matches at the Green Mills Restaurant Classic in Wichita, Kan. The Lady’Backs opened with losses to Michigan State (receiving votes) and No. 6 Washington on Friday and dropped the final match to the host Shockers (receiving votes) Saturday night. Jennifer Haaser earned all-tournament team honors for the weekend.
Hey, get in the gameArkansas head coach Chris Poole has had the opportunity to play 12 of 13 players on this season’s roster. The only player not to see court time is redshirt freshman Christina Lawrence. The Lady’Backs have used five other freshman in the lineup and Poole likes the confidence of the newcomers. Jessica Dorrell has been among the team’s leaders on the offense. She is second on the team with 66 kills in her first season of collegiate play. Amanda Eskridge got court time at Wichita State as a setter and tallied 35 assists, 1 kill and three blocks.. The other freshmen are all defensive specialists. Kelli Cole, Ashley Miller and Ashley Wiechman have all contributed with Miller fighting for time with junior Chelsey Warmack as the team’s libero.
First honor of the yearJennifer Haaser earned Green Mill Restaurant Classic all-tournament team honors at Wichita State last weekend. It is the first honor of the year for the Lady’Backs. It is the fifth all-tournament team honor for the Fort Smith, Ark., native. Haaser earned all-tournament team honors at the 2001 SEC Tournament as well as the Morning News Invitational (2002), the SMS Fall Invitational (2002) and the Quality Inn Tiger Invitational (2003).
About the recordThe 1-5 start is the worst start in the 11-year school history. Arkansas was 2-6 in both 2000 and 2001. Arkansas finished the 2000 season with a 16-14 record while the Lady’Backs were 21-12 in 2001.
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 faired to date.
|No. 24 Kansas||6-0, ranked No. 24|
|Pacific||3-2, got votes in the preseason poll|
|No. 19 Santa Clara||5-2, defeated Southwest Missouri State in Hawai’i|
|Michigan State||5-1, third at Wichita State Tournament|
|No. 6 Washington||7-0, Won the Wichita State Tournament|
|Wichita State||3-4, finished second at home tourn., win over UCSB|
|Ball State||3-4, started season getting votes in AVCA poll|
|Houston||1-6, lost six straight|
|No. 9 Illinois||5-0, upset No. 1 SC in Illinois last weekend|
|No. 4 Florida||6-1, lost to No. 5 Minnesota last week|
Welcome back BrewerSophomore all-SEC player Kele Brewer made her return against Michigan State after nearly three weeks on the DL. Brewer was battling a stress fracture in her foot but is expected to again play this weekend. Also returning to the lineup was freshman Amanda Eskridge. Eskridge suffered from shoulder pain but was called upon to set last weekend.
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 124-27 (including a loss to Kansas in the 2004 season opener) 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.
Longest home stand of the yearThe C&C Services Invitational marks Arkansas’ return to Barnhill Arena after two weekends on the road. It also signals the start of the longest home stand on the year. Arkansas hosts the C&C Services Invitational Sept. 17-18, followed by the start of Southeastern Conference action as No. 4 Florida comes to town Sept. 24. Georgia (Sept. 26), Mississippi (Oct. 1) and Mississippi State (Oct. 3) round out the home run.
About the C&C Services InvitationalThe Lady Razorbacks return to Fayetteville hosting the C&C Services Invitational Friday and Saturday. This is the first season that the Lady’Backs welcome C&C Services as a tournament sponsor but it is certainly not the first time Arkansas has hosted tournaments. In fact, this is the 14th home tournament (not including SECs and NCAAs) that Arkansas has hosted.
C&C Services Invitational Schedule of EventsFriday, September 18
|12:00 PM||No. 9 Illinois vs. Houston|
|5:00 PM||No. 9 Illinois vs. Ball State|
|7:00 PM||Arkansas vs. Houston|
Saturday, Sept. 19
|12:00 PM||Arkansas vs. Ball State|
|5:00 PM||Houston vs. Ball State|
|7:00 PM||Arkansas vs. No. 9 Illinois|
About HoustonThe University of Houston volleyball team closed out the UT-Arlington Tournament with a 3-1 lose to Indiana University on Saturday afternoon in Arlington. After beginning the season with a strong win over defending ACC champion Maryland, the Cougars have now dropped six in a row and stand at 1-6 on the year, while the Hoosiers improve to 5-1 with the win.
Arkansas versus the CougarsThe Arkansas-Houston series is seven matches old with the Lady’Backs leading 5-2 in the win-loss column. Houston, however, has won two of the last three but Arkansas notched a four-game in Orlando, Fla., in 2002, in the most recent meeting. Prior to the Arkansas loss in 2000, the Lady’Backs had defeated Houston in three games, even when the Cougars were nationally ranked in 1995.
About Ball StateDespite its strongest game performance of the season, the Ball State women’s volleyball team suffered a 1-3 (30-25, 23-30, 25-30, 16-30) setback in its final game of the First National Bank/Arby’s Classic. With the loss, BSU drops to 3-4 on the year. Rachel Renfenes leads the team hitting .365 with 76 kills this year.
Arkansas versus the CardinalsArkansas leads the series with Ball State, 2-0. The Lady’Backs won the first contest in four games in 1997 followed by a three-set win in 1998.
About #16 IllinoisThe University of Illinois is coming off one of the best weekend’s in their program history after upsetting top-ranked Southern California in Champaign. The five-set win ended the longest winning streak (52 matches) in NCAA history by the two-time defending national champion Women of Troy. Illinois also has wins over Miami (twice) TCU and Illinois State this year.
Arkansas versus the Fighting IlliniThe Arkansas-Illinois series is tied at one match each. The series dates back to the first meeting in Champaign in 1997 when the Illini defeated Arkansas in three games. Arkansas notched a four-game win over the No. 22 Illini in Fayetteville in 1998.
A look at the numbersThe Lady Razorbacks have not started the year as statistically strong as they might like. Here’s a quick look at how the Lady’Backs compare to the other teams in the tournament.
One, Two, Three, Four, FiveThe Lady Razorbacks have played two five-game matches this year and are 1-1 in those contests. Last year, Arkansas was 3-1 in five-game matches. The Lady’Backs are 26-25 all time (25-24 prior to the 2004 season) in five-game matches.
Career Records WatchJennifer Haaser, the lone senior on the Lady’Backs’ team this year, continues to climb up in the career records lists. Her most notable record to watch is block solos. Haaser currently ranks fifth with 80 solos but trails number four Denise Baez by one (81). Libby Windell is third with 82 and Kim Storey is second with 91 – all well within Haaser’s reach this year. Haaser ranks ninth in kills with 965, 10th in total attempts with 2,390, tied for seventh in service aces with 88, fourth in block assists with 405, fourth in total blocks with 485 and fourth in blocks per game at 1.27. Finally, Haaser ranks ninth in points with 1335.5. Other Lady’Backs in the top 10 include sophomore Kele Brewer who is ninth in kills per game at 2.95 and sophomore Denitza Koleva who is 10th at 2.93. Junior Iva Docekalova, in her first season as the team’s setter, ranks sixth in assists with 449, and ninth in assists per game with a 1.71 apg average. In addition, Docekalova ranks tied for seventh in service aces with 88 and third in service aces per game with a 0.33 average.
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.
Arkansans dominate rosterThe 2004 season begins with four native Arkansans on the roster – the most ever in a single season. Returning for her final season is Fort Smith native and all-SEC selection Jennifer Haaser. Haaser headlines the talented group that includes junior libero Chelsey Warmack of Harrison and freshmen Kelli Cole (L/DS) of Russellville and Ashley Wiechman (OH) of Jonesboro. In addition, head coach Chris Poole is also from Arkansas. Poole was born in Heber Springs and attended school in Jonesboro. Poole begins 11th seasonArkansas head coach Chris Poole begins his 11th season as the only skipper the program has ever known. The Heber Springs, Ark., native has amassed a 251-102 record at Arkansas including a 123-29 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 93-6 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. Here’s a quick look:
Speaking of the SECThe Lady Razorbacks finished the year ranked in every statistical category in the Southeastern Conference last year. Arkansas was first in the league in blocking averaging 3.21 blocks per game in 2003. The Lady Razorbacks were second in hitting with a .275 mark, in opponent hitting percentage at .169, in service aces with a 2.13 sapg mark and in win/loss percentage with a .938. Arkansas was fourth in assists averaging 14.05 apg, third in kills with a 15.84 mark and sixth in digs with a 14.22 average.
Up NextThe Lady Razorbacks begin Southeastern Conference play next weekend hosted No. 4 Florida Friday followed by a Sunday match with Georgia. Arknasas hosts Mississippi Oct. 1 followed by Mississippi State Oct. 3.