FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team opens its final home stand of the season with a Friday matchup against No. 1 Florida. First serve of the Southeastern Conference meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. All fans in attendance for the Arkansas-Florida match will receive $1 admission.
"Florida is the best team in the country right now," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "There’s a reason they are ranked No. 1 and we’re excited about the opportunity to play. We talked about it as a team and not many athletes during their careers get the chance to play the No. 1 team in the country."
This will mark just the second time in program history for the Razorbacks to face a team ranked No. 1 in the country. Coincidently, that distinction came against Florida during the 1996 season in the finals of the SEC Tournament in Columbia, S.C. The Gators came away with a four-set win in that match.
In the first meeting this season between the two teams, Arkansas lost in three sets to then-No. 2 Florida in Gainesville. Kelli Stipanovich notched a team-high nine kills in the match and Jasmine Norton led the way defensively with seven digs. In the all-time series, the Gators own a 29-2 advantage. One of those wins for the Razorbacks came in five sets at Barnhill Arena in 2007 when Florida was the fifth-ranked team in the poll.
Norton paces the team and is first in the SEC with 3.92 kills per set this season. Last weekend, the sophomore outside hitter moved into 14th place on Arkansas’ all-time kills list with 914 career kills. Stipanovich and Janeliss Torres-Lopez follow with 2.32 and 1.80 kills per set, respectively. Torres-Lopez is fifth in the conference with 1.11 blocks per set and libero Brooke Fournier has a team-best 3.06 digs per set.
Florida (24-1, 17-0) clinched at least a share of the 2010 SEC title with a sweep of Alabama in its last match. The Gators have won 19 matches in a row, dropping just nine sets in that stretch. Kelly Murphy leads the team with 3.16 kills per set and has registered six triple-double performances this season. During conference play, Florida is the top hitting team (.309) and allowing the lowest opponent hitting percentage (.152).
"For a competitor, there’s nothing better than playing the best," Pulliza said. "We have a good, competitive group that is up for challenges. We’re looking forward to a fun match here in Barnhill Arena."
Following their meeting with Florida, the Razorbacks return to their home court Sunday afternoon to take on South Carolina. First serve of the weekend finale is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Barnhill Arena. Visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com for game day features and more information.
Download: Notes 16_Florida, South Carolina.pdf