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Lady’Backs come home to Barnhill

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Backs come home to Barnhill

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas volleyball team returns home to Barnhill Arena hosting Southeastern Conference Eastern Division rival Kentucky Friday at 7:00 p.m., in the first of two matches this weekend. The Lady Razorbacks enter the weekend with a 7-10 overall record and an SEC Western Division-leading 5-3 record in league play. They host the basement-dwelling Wildcats who are better than their 11-8 overall and 2-6 SEC record. "We’re excited to be back home," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "We really enjoy playing in front of the home crowd and on our own court. Kentucky is having one of their better seasons in recent years and fans are going to see a good match on Friday." The 2004 season has seen more parity between teams than in recent years. Eighth-ranked Florida and No. 17 Tennessee lead both the Eastern Division and the overall conference race with perfect 8-0 records. They meet each other Friday in match that may decide the conference regular-season winner. Arkansas is currently first in the West and third overall followed by Georgia who is also 5-3. The Lady’Backs have the tie-break advantage over the Bulldogs at this point in the season. Alabama and South Carolina are both 4-4 with the Crimson Tide holding the edge over the Gamecocks. Mississippi State is 3-5 and ranks seventh in the league while Mississippi checks in at 2-6 and holds the number eight spot by virtue of the tiebreaker policy. Kentucky and LSU are also 2-6 and Auburn rounds out the league with a 1-7 record. The Lady Razorbacks’ strength this season has been the team’s defense. Arkansas has led the conference for much of the SEC season in blocking and currently holds the number two spot with a 3.23 block-per-game average. The Wildcats are last in the SEC with a 1.72 bpg average. Junior Karla Crose has paced Arkansas for much of the season at the net. The Lincoln, Neb., native is averaging 1.61 bpg in conference play with 53.0 total blocks thus far. Fort Smith, Ark., senior Jennifer Haaser is close behind averaging 1.33 bpg with 44.0 total blocks. The duo rank third and sixth in the SEC, respectively. Arkansas is also digging the ball well and ranks eighth in the league with 14.12 digs per game, up from last year’s 13.94 average. Kentucky, however, checks in second in the SEC averaging 15.69 dpg. Freshman Ashley Miller leads the Lady’Backs with 114 digs in conference play. The Vacaville, Calif., native ranks sixth in the SEC averaging 3.45 dpg. "Kentucky is very aggressive," said Poole. "They are good defensively and we’re glad we get a chance to face them on our home floor." Arkansas’ offense isn’t as strong as it has been in recent seasons. Haaser and Crose along with sophomores Denitza Koleva and Kele Brewer provide the Lady’Backs with a balanced attack but it is freshman Jessica Dorrell who has posted big numbers lately. Dorrell ranks seventh in the SEC hitting .341 with 69 kills in 33 matches. The Lady Razorbacks step out of conference hosting Valparaiso for the first time in the program’s history Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The Crusaders come to Barnhill leading the Mid-Continent Conference with a perfect 7-0 record. They are 18-3 overall. For more information about Arkansas volleyball or for tickets call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to www.ladybacks.com.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)