FAYETTEVILLE – After a lengthy road swing, the University of Arkansas volleyball team hosts its Southeastern Conference home opener Friday evening against Mississippi State. First serve of the Western Division matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) at Barnhill Arena. The Razorbacks enter the weekend with a 9-4 overall record and a 1-1 mark in SEC play.
Arkansas opened conference play last weekend on the road with a win at Alabama and a five-set loss at Ole Miss. In their victory over the Crimson Tide, the Razorbacks got double-double performances from Roslandy Acosta, Jasmine Norton and Kelli Stipanovich while libero Christa Alvarez posted a career-best 21 digs. Against the Rebels, Norton and Stipanovich led the team with 12 kills each.
Friday’s match will mark the team’s first at Barnhill Arena since Aug. 30, a midweek meeting with Oral Roberts. On the nine-match road swing, Arkansas posted a 7-2 record and picked up tournament titles at the Deacon Invitational and West Point Challenge. The only losses during the stretch were at No. 18 Oklahoma and Ole Miss.
"I’m proud of our team for their play on a three-week stretch of being on the road," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "We come back with a 7-2 record (during the road swing) and I think that’s significant. It puts us in a good place and now we just have to get better."
On the season, Stipanovich paces the Razorback offense and is sixth in the SEC with 3.33 kills per set. She is also seventh in the conference with 3.85 points per set. Janeliss Torres-Lopez owns a .349 hitting percentage, the eighth-best mark in the conference and Raymariely Santos is seventh in the SEC with 9.85 assists per set. From the service line, Amanda Anderson is fourth in the conference with 0.46 aces per set.
Collectively, the Razorbacks are the second-best blocking team in the SEC with 2.49 blocks per set. The team is also holding its opponents to a .159 hitting percentage, the third-lowest figure by an SEC team this season.
In the all-time series between the two teams, Arkansas holds a 30-5 advantage and has won 16 of 17 meetings against the Bulldogs in Fayetteville. Last season, each team won on its home court with a five-set win for Mississippi State in Starkville and a straight-set victory for the Razorbacks at Barnhill Arena.
Mississippi State has a 6-5 overall record and is 1-1 through the first weekend of conference play. Caitlin Rance and Lainey Wyman lead the Bulldogs’ offense with 4.55 and 2.83 kills per set, respectively. Wyman is the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week for her efforts against No. 7 Florida and South Carolina. In its last outing, Mississippi State beat South Carolina in five sets.
Log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com for match coverage including interactive blog, live stats and video stream. Students attending volleyball matches are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter Barnhill Arena. The first 250 fans will receive a volleyball-shaped water bottle.
For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.