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Lady’Back volleyball opens SEC play this weekend

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Back volleyball opens SEC play this weekend

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas volleyball team opens Southeastern Conference play this weekend with road trips to Kentucky and No. 13 Tennessee Friday and Sunday. The Lady Razorbacks are out to a solid start with a 7-1 record but step up this weekend facing equally tough 7-1 Kentucky Friday at 6:00 p.m. Arkansas rebounds to take on No. 13 Tennessee who is 8-1 this year Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Both matches can be heard in Fayetteville on 88.3 FM and on the internet at LADYBACKS.COM. "This is going to be a tough weekend," acknowledged Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "Both teams have a lot of players returning from last year but this weekend will give us a chance to measure ourselves against the league. We expect this to be a difficult weekend but we recognize that there are no "gimmies" in the SEC this year. Everyone is better." Poole couldn’t be more right in his assessment of the SEC this year. Three teams, No. 6 Florida, No. 13 Tennessee and No. 18 LSU are ranked in the national poll while Arkansas is getting votes. In addition 10 of the 11 SEC members have better than .500 records including six teams with just one loss. The first match at Kentucky might have a bit of an extra motivator for the Lady’Backs as the Wildcats downed Arkansas twice during the regular season in 2005. This year the Wildcats are again perfect on their home court out to a 5-0 start in Memorial Coliseum. Tennessee is equally as tough and their lone loss came at the hands of 14th-ranked Southern California. The Lady Vols are also hard to beat at home and are in the midst of a 22-match home winning streak dating back to the 2004 season. But Arkansas’ weapons are many and varied this year. Injuries have seen the shake up of the lineup on more than one occasion but different players have stepped up when needed making the Lady’Backs tough to scout. Seniors Deniza Koleva, Kele Brewer and Amy Allison have been a big part of Arkansas’ early success with Koleva posting double-digit kills and digs in seven of eight matches this year. Brewer continues to battle a sore foot that has sidelined her in practice but she has yet to miss a match. Juniors Jessica Dorell and Ashley Miller along with sophomore Christina Lawrence have also been keys in Arkansas’ pre-conference wins. Lawrence continues to play her way into the lineup after knee surgery the second day of practice. "If, after the first two weeks of practice, someone would have told me we’d by 7-1 now, I would have been ecstatic," laughed Poole. "We’ve had so many little things come up but this team has really battled and stayed tough during the matches. I can’t ask them to play any harder." Arkansas returns home next weekend hosting five SEC teams in a row beginning with Georgia Sept. 22. Arkansas follows up with South Carolina Sept. 24, Mississippi State Sept. 29, Mississippi Oct. 1 and LSU Oct. 4. For more information or tickets please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)