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Lady’Backs lace up their Dancing shoes

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Backs lace up their Dancing shoes

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team has put on its dancing shoes for the 2004 NCAA Volleyball Tournament facing No. 16 seed Missouri in Columbia, Mo., Friday at 6:00 p.m., in the Hearnes Center. Arkansas received word of its at-large bid last Sunday after finishing the regular season with a 17-15 overall record. The Lady Razorbacks meet the Tigers who are 19-8 overall and finished third in the Big 12 this year. “We’re excited to be in the tournament,” said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. “We’ve been telling the players all season that this is what we were working for. They never doubted us and the worked hard all year to be here. Now we’re going to enjoy it and play as long as we can.” The Lady’Backs enter the sub-regional as a the lowest “seed” of the four teams in Columbia, Mo., this weekend. Although Missouri is the only seeded team, (the NCAA Tournament seeds on the top 16 teams) checking in at No. 16, Illinois and Louisville enter the weekend with a bit of an advantage. The Illini and Cardinals met in the 4:00 p.m., match Friday. “We’re the underdog here,” said Poole, “but that isn’t always a bad role to be in. We have nothing to lose. We’re a good team, who, when we play at our best, can play with any team in the country. We’ve had tough matches against top teams all season and we don’t feel intimidated or pressured at this point in the year.” Arkansas opened the year with one of the toughest pre-conference schedules in the 11-year program history. Nine of the first 10 Lady’Back opponents were ranked or getting votes in the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Associate top 25 and Arkansas’ took its lumps going 2-8 during that stretch. But as Southeastern Conference play started the Lady Razorbacks turned a corner on the court winning 10 league matches and a share of their 10th Western Division title in a conference that was much-improved. So much so that it ranked third in the country in the unofficial RPI ratings this year. “We knew our schedule was tough and that our team was young,” said Poole. “We had some tough losses early in the year but we felt like if we could keep the team focused the experience would pay off and it did.” The winner of the Arkansas/Missouri match faces the winner of Illinois/Louisville at 6:00 p.m., Saturday with that winner moving on to Regionals. All of Arkansas’ postseason matches can be heard live in the Fayetteville area on KXUA, 88.3 FM and on the internet at swww.ladybacks.com.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)