FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team returns to its home court Tuesday to host Oklahoma. First serve of the midweek matchup between regional foes is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Barnhill Arena. The Razorbacks are undefeated at home after winning the Arkansas Invitational during the first weekend of the 2010 season.
Arkansas (6-1) comes into the match having picked up three wins last week, a five-set triumph at Oral Roberts and victories against Chattanooga and Akron at the Jayhawk Classic. The Razorbacks’ 6-1 mark matches the starts of the 1996, 1999, 2006 and 2007 teams; the 2002 team opened the season with seven consecutive wins.
Offensively, sophomore Jasmine Norton paces the Razorback attack with 3.85 kills per set, the fourth-best mark in the Southeastern Conference. In Arkansas’ last match, a straight-set victory over Akron, Norton tallied 14 kills on a career-best .520 hitting percentage. She and fellow sophomore Cassie Clarke were named to the Jayhawk Classic All-Tournament Team for their respective performances during the weekend.
The Razorback block had a breakout weekend in Lawrence, Kan., with freshmen Alex Fitzmorris and Charmaine Whitmore leading the team at the net. Against Kansas, Fitzmorris equaled her career high with seven total blocks and Whitmore came off the bench to notch six blocks; Arkansas finished the match with a season-high 13.0 total team blocks. Fitzmorris leads the team with 1.04 blocks per set.
Behind the block, freshman libero Brooke Fournier averages 3.26 digs per set. In the Razorbacks’ five-set comeback win against Chattanooga, the Redondo Beach, Calif., native tallied 22 digs, including nine digs in the fourth game against the Mocs. At the service line, Norton and junior Kelli Stipanovich have nine and eight aces, respectively. Stipanovich served a career-high four aces last week at Oral Roberts.
In three all-time meetings with the Sooners, Arkansas has come away with the win on each occasion. The two teams last met during the 2006 season, a five-set victory in Norman for the Razorbacks. Arkansas and Oklahoma have only met once in Fayetteville, a straight-set win during the 2000 season.
Oklahoma (4-3) dropped two of three this past weekend at the Houston Invitational, losing matches to No. 13 Florida State and No. 17 Tennessee but defeating host Houston in five sets. The Sooners were picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll and received votes in the first two AVCA national rankings of the season.
Setter Brianne Barker and middle blocker Francie Ekwerekwu were both named preseason All-Big 12 performers. Suzy Boulavsky has a team-best 3.31 kills per set with a .309 hitting percentage, while Sarah Freudenrich leads Oklahoma with her .382 hitting percentage. Defensively, the Sooners are led by Maria Fernanda (4.31 digs per set) and Sallie McLaurin (1.27 blocks per set).
Single-match tickets are $4 for general admission to Arkansas volleyball home matches. The first 250 fans in attendance at Barnhill Arena will receive a pair of Razorback sunglasses. A video stream, interactive in-match blog and live stats for Tuesday’s match against Oklahoma will be available at the official online home of Razorback athletics, ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: Notes 4_Oklahoma.pdf