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Lady’Backs travel to Auburn and Alabama this weekend

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Backs travel to Auburn and Alabama this weekend

FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas volleyball team continues its quest for a 10th Southeastern Conference Western Division title this weekend by traveling to Auburn and Alabama. After facing one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country to open the season, Arkansas has rebounded to a 5-8 overall mark and a Western Division-leading 3-1 start in SEC matches. The Lady’Backs opened conference play with a four-game loss to No. 5 Florida, but heads on the road with a three match win streak after wins over Georgia, Mississippi and Mississippi State. "We’re excited about continuing SEC play," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "I’m very proud of this team right now. We’re coming off a good weekend in which we were pushed and I was pleased to see the way the team responded to the adversity." Arkansas opens the weekend Friday at Auburn. The Tigers are a much-improved team from a year ago and enter the match with a 6-6 overall record and a 1-3 SEC mark in fourth place in the West. The Arkansas contest is the SEC home opener for the Tigers. Alabama came out of the gate on fire to start the year. One of the favorites to push Arkansas for the divisional title, the Crimson Tide entered SEC play with just one loss on the year but struggled to a 2-2 SEC mark. Alabama, 12-3 overall, is currently in second place in the West with losses to Florida and Georgia. "The matches this weekend are going to be very tough," said Poole. “Both teams are very solid. Alabama’s Erin Heffner is one of the best outside hitters in the conference. Auburn had a couple of transfers come in and they’ve gained some experience and balance in their offense." Statistically, the Lady’Backs are not yet where they would like to be offensively. Arkansas is hitting just .182 in conference matches ranking eighth in the league. Auburn is third at .219 and Alabama is 10th with a .156 hitting percentage. The defense has been the bright spot in the numbers’ column. Arkansas leads the SEC in blocking averaging 3.63 blocks per game paced by junior and SEC Defensive Player of the Week Karla Crose with a 2.13 bpg average. The Lady’Backs also lead the league in digs with a18.20 digs per game with Arkansas freshman Ashley Miller atop the individual leaders averaging 4.93 dpg in her first year. "Our defense has been able to contain some of our opponents big hitters," said Poole. "That gives us confidence. We know that we can’t necessarily shut down our opponents’ top players but we can contain them and slow them down. That gives us a chance to stay in matches." Several other Lady’Backs rank in the top 10 individual stat categories in the league this week. Sophomore Amy Allison is third in hitting percentage with a .390 average. The Jenks, Okla., native is eighth in blocks averaging 1.20 bpg. Freshman Jessica Dorrell ranks 10th in blocking with a 1.13 mark. The weekend marks the beginning of back-to-back SEC road weekends for the Lady’Backs. Arkansas travels to Georgia Oct. 15, followed by a rematch at No. 8 Florida Oct. 17, in Gainesville, Fla. Arkansas returns to Barnhill Arena Oct. 22, hosting Kentucky as SEC action continues. For more information and tickets please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to www.ladybacks.com



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)