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Lady’Back volleyball heads West this weekend

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Back volleyball heads West this weekend

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas volleyball team faces its toughest challenge of the young season this weekend taking on a pair of nationally ranked teams at the San Diego Tournament in San Diego, Calif., Friday and Saturday. Arkansas enters the weekend with a 6-2 overall record and is slated to face up-and-coming UNLV in the opening match on Friday. The Lady’Backs take on host San Diego who is tied for 18th in this week’s American Volleyball Coaches Association poll followed by a single match with No. 25 Long Beach State on Saturday. "We face a big challenge this weekend," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "Two of our opponents are ranked in the top 25 and all three are very good teams. Both Long Beach State and San Diego have a lot of history and tradition and UNLV has its best team in a long time. We’re looking forward to this challenge and we’ve been working hard all week in preparation." Arkansas has played well thus far in the young season. The Lady’Backs’ two losses have come at the hands of Kansas State, ranked No. 22 this week, and at Missouri State to a team who returned all six starters from a year ago. The Lady’Backs only lost one player from a year ago but the influx of talented newcomers has had the coaching staff scrambling to find the right fit for everyone. Sophomore Jessica Dorrell has played well lately, earning all-tournament team honors last week at Missouri State. The Aledo, Texas, native leads Arkansas and ranks seventh in the Southeastern Conference hitting .396 this year. Sophomore libero Ashley Miller is also coming off a big weekend setting the school record for single-match digs with 32 in a thrilling come-from-behind five-game win over Utah. "Our balance has been good all season," said Poole. "Ashley and our two setters (Iva Docekalova and Nicole Martin) have done a great job of controlling the offense and spreading the ball around. Denny (Koleva) is gaining a lot of confidence as a full rotation player. Jessica is kind of a quite leader. She continues to contribute a lot and is becoming a real go-to player for us. I’m really excited to see her mature." Arkansas’ balance has been evident from the first week of play when junior Amy Allison earned Arkansas Invitational MVP honors. She was joined by teammates Koleva, senior Karla Crose and redshirt freshman Christina Lawrence. The following week, Koleva was again honored along with Dorrell. Dorrell made it two in a row at Missouri State while Miller set the digs record. The West coast trip is the second of two in a row on the road for Arkansas. The Lady’Backs return to Barnhill opening SEC play with No. 16 Tennessee Friday, Sept. 23, followed by a match with South Carolina Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The Lady Razorbacks also want to remind fans that LSU’s volleyball team will use Barnhill as their "home" venue that weekend as well while the Pete Maravich Assembly Center continues as a recovery site for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Tigers face South Carolina at 4:00 p.m., Friday and take on Tennessee Sunday at 10:30 a.m. For more information about Arkansas volleyball or for tickets please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)