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Lady’Backs host Kentucky in big match Sunday

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Backs host Kentucky in big match Sunday

FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team lays it all on the line Sunday hosting Kentucky in the final Southeastern Conference match of the regular season in Barnhill Arena. Arkansas enters the match with an 11-4 SEC record, even with LSU who defeated Kentucky in four games in Baton Rouge, La., Friday. A win by the Lady’Backs gives Arkansas the outright Western Division title. A loss makes Arkansas co-champions with LSU. "A couple of factors made the Kentucky match the single most important match we’ve played all season," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "Kentucky has a new coach that has inspired a mostly upperclassmen team. These players have been used to losing close games the last two years. Now, they are finding ways to win." Arkansas’ balanced attack is what carried the team this season. Middles Amy Allison and Karla Crose team with the outside attack of Denitza Koleva, Kele Brewer and Christina Lawrence giving the Lady’Backs several offensive weapons. "Defenses have a hard time against us," said Poole. "There is no one player to key on. We have several people who can step up at any moment. We need upperclassmen leadership on Sunday. We’ll be facing a lot of pressure, but that is something that all great teams must learn to conquer. We have won a lot of five-game matches this year with everything on the line in one 15-point game, so I am confident that our players can handle the pressure that this match will present." Kentucky and Arkansas have met once this season with the Wildcats getting the best of the Lady’Backs in four games in Lexington. Both the Lady’Backs and Wildcats tallied 13.0 team blocks in the match but Kentucky outhit Arkansas .219 to .160 in the match. The Lady’Backs were paced by Koleva and Lawrence with 17 kills each while Brewer added 13. The Wildcats also had three players in double-figure kills and committed fewer hitting errors as a team in the Arkansas loss. In addition to SEC Western Division implications, Sunday’s match will effect SEC Tournament seeding and possibly selection to the NCAA Tournament later this month. "With a victory, we will win the SEC West title for the 11th time in 12 years," said Poole. "More importantly, a victory would give us the third seed in the SEC Tournament and most likely a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. We need to make Barnhill a true home court advantage on Sunday with our fan support. I don’t believe that we have played to our fullest potential at home, but having a great atmosphere can give us the lift we have been looking for." Arkansas and seven other SEC teams take part in the conference tournament Nov. 18-20, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Seeding for the tournament will come down to the final match on Sunday with the bracket announced Monday by the league office. For more information about Arkansas volleyball log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)