FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team begins its Southeastern Conference schedule this weekend with a pair of road matches. The Razorbacks open league play Friday at Alabama with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT) at Foster Auditorium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The weekend finale is set for Sunday at Ole Miss with a 1:30 p.m. start in Oxford.
"I think we’re in a good place (heading into SEC play)," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "We’re doing some good things but I’m glad to have had the full week of practice because there are things we can work on to improve but I like our effort. I like our desire to win, to be better and take it to the next level."
Arkansas (8-3) enters conference play on a three-match winning streak. Last weekend, the Razorbacks captured the tournament title at the West Point Challenge in New York with victories over Dartmouth, NJIT and host Army. Kelli Stipanovich was named Most Valuable Player while Jasmine Norton and Janeliss Torres-Lopez earned all-tournament honors. Arkansas’ record to start SEC play is the sixth best in program history.
Stipanovich became the 15th player in program history to record 1,000 career kills against Dartmouth, joining Norton who joined the club earlier in the season. The Razorback duo is the fourth set of teammates to eclipse the milestone in the same season. Stipanovich is currently sixth in the SEC in kills per set (3.44 k/s) and points per set (4.05 p/s).
The Razorbacks’ offense is paced by Stipanovich, Norton (2.95 k/s) and Roslandy Acosta (2.18 k/s) and directed by setter Raymariely Santos and her 9.97 assists per set, the seventh-best figure in the conference. Defensively, Arkansas is the top blocking team in the SEC with 2.68 blocks per set, including a conference-best 34 solo blocks. The Razorbacks are also holding their opponents to a .152 hitting percentage, the third lowest among all SEC teams.
Arkansas leads the all-time series with Alabama, 29-7, and owns an 11-5 advantage in matches played in Tuscaloosa. Last season, the Razorbacks came away with a pair of four-set victories over the Crimson Tide. Against Ole Miss, Arkansas leads the all-time series, 24-10, and holds a 10-6 advantage in matches played in Oxford. Last season, the teams each won on its home floor. Prior to the Razorbacks’ win in Fayetteville, Ole Miss had won the previous nine meetings.
Fans can tune into an audio stream of both matches on RazorVision or view the video stream available Friday at RollTide.com. Match coverage will also include an interactive blog and live stats. For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.