FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas volleyball team hosts Alabama in a Southeastern Conference battle for the top spot in the Western Division Friday at 7:00 p.m., in Barnhill Arena. Arkansas enters the week one match behind the Crimson Tide and head coach Chris Poole believes this contest is a "must-win" for the Lady’Backs. "This has historically been a great match between two teams playing for the lead in the West and this year is no exception," said Poole. "Alabama always gets up to play us and we’re going to have to play well to be successful." Arkansas enters the match with a 7-3 SEC mark and a 14-8 overall record while Alabama is 8-2 in the league and 20-3 overall. The two teams met in Tuscaloosa, Oct. 5, with Arkansas escaping with a five-game win in a battle to the last point. The Lady’Backs’ block was the difference-maker with Arkansas throwing up 19.0 as a team. Junior Amy Allison paced the Arkansas blocking with a career-best 14.0 in the match and earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors after the win. The teams have taken different paths since that match with Arkansas going 4-3 while the Crimson Tide have won six in a row, although they did not face the same opponents during that stretch. The SEC has seen a more level playing field this year as conference action has progressed. National powerhouse and fourth-ranked Florida remains a top the SEC East and the overall conference race with a perfect 10-0 record, followed by Tennessee with a 6-3 conference record. The Lady Vols were ranked as high as No. 16 in the American Volleyball Coaches Poll early in the year but have dropped matches to unranked opponents to fall from the top 25. Kentucky has surprised much of the league and is in third in the East with a 6-4 mark followed by South Carolina at 3-6 and Georgia with a 2-7 record. Bama leads the West at 8-2 followed by Arkansas with a 7-3 mark. LSU is third with a 6-4 conference record ahead of Mississippi State at 2-7, Auburn at 2-8 and Mississippi at 1-9 in league play. "It’s still anyone’s game," said Poole of the conference race. "Florida is clearly the dominate team again this year but the second through six or seventh-place teams are really tightly bunched and very evenly matched. We have a lot of matches left and a win Friday won’t clinch the division title for either team. We really feel like all of our remaining conference matches are ‘must-wins’ and it alls starts Friday." Admission to Friday’s match is just $4.00 for a general admission ticket and $2.00 for students. Fans who attend Thursday night’s women’s basketball Red-White game will be admitted free to the volleyball match with their basketball ticket stub. For more information about Arkansas volleyball log on to LADYBACKS.COM.