FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas volleyball team returns to Southeastern Conference action Friday and Sunday traveling to Auburn and Alabama. The Lady Razorbacks (8-5, 1-1 SEC) are defending their 10th SEC Western Division title against a tougher than ever conference schedule and face a pair of strong divisional foes in the Tigers and Tide this weekend. Arkansas opened the season with a loss to defending Eastern Division and conference tournament winner Tennessee and defeated South Carolina in a come-from-behind win last weekend. "This weekend will be a big challenge for us," said head coach Chris Poole. "Both teams are having really good seasons. Alabama has a lot returning and we’re expecting a battle. They fell like they have a chance to win the West and they are one of the better teams." Arkansas opens the weekend at Auburn, currently fourth in the Western Division with a 1-1 league mark and a 7-3 overall record. The Tigers have been steadily improving and host Arkansas in a tough road venue with large and loud crowds. "Auburn is a very dangerous team," said Poole. "They are much-improved. We’re going to have to play very well at their place to have a chance to win. We certainly have to play better than we did last weekend but the team is really looking to pump it up this weekend." The Lady’Backs will depart Auburn after the Friday night match flying to Tuscaloosa that evening. After a practice day Saturday, the Lady’Backs face co-Western Division champion Alabama in a 1:30 p.m., match in another tough road arena. The Crimson Tide are also 1-1 in the SEC but have the most overall wins at 13-2 in the conference this year. The Tide lost one starter from a year ago and are playing with a lot of confidence. "It’s always a battle with Alabama," said Poole, "and this year, at their place won’t be an exception. There are no gimmies in the SEC this year. The conference is very deep and teams are going to have to play well week in and week out to win." The Lady’Backs have had a bit of an up-and-down season through the first 13 matches of the year. Arkansas started strong but seemed to falter a big on a big West coach road trip that saw the team go 1-2 with losses to then No. 18 San Diego and No. 25 Long Beach State. Arkansas returned home opening conference action against the Lady Vols and never really got going in the match. "We felt like our block never really got into sync in the match," said Poole. "They threw us off and our transition was not smooth. We just never really got into a rhythm. We rebounded against South Carolina and we are just going to try and build off that momentum this weekend." Both of Arkansas’ matches this weekend will air live in the Fayetteville area on KXUA, 88.3 FM, and on the internet at LADYBACKS.COM. Arkansas returns home hosting the LSU Tigers Oct. 5. For more information about Arkansas volleyball please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.