FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas volleyball team opens the road portion of its Southeastern Conference schedule this weekend with matches at Tennessee and No. 17 Kentucky. The Razorbacks open the weekend with a Sept. 25 matchup with the Lady Vols set for a 6 p.m. (CT) start at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn."We had a good weekend at home to open SEC play," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "So we’re excited to get back at it on the road against Tennessee and Kentucky. We’ve been on the road plenty this season already so we know what we have to do to be successful."Arkansas (7-6, 1-1) enters the weekend off a split at home, a 3-0 victory over South Carolina and a loss to No. 5 Florida, to open the conference season. The Razorbacks lead the all-time series with Tennessee, 14-10, and last won in Knoxville in 2007, a five-set victory over the Lady Vols. Arkansas also holds the advantage in its series with Kentucky, 13-11.Outside hitter Jasmine Norton, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, leads the Razorbacks with 156 kills, good for 3.47 kills per set which also leads the team and is fourth in the SEC. Fellow freshman Amanda Anderson is fourth in the conference with her team-leading .360 hitting percentage. She is also tied for eighth in the conference with 1.07 blocks per set.As a team, Arkansas is hitting .231 this season, which is fifth in the conference heading into this weekend’s action. Using a balanced offensive attack, the Razorbacks have four players-Norton, Anderson, Kristin Seaton and Kelli Stipanovich-with at least 100 kills. In the team’s last match, Seaton became the 22nd player in program history to record 500 kills. The Ft. Smith, Ark., native now has 503 kills during her Razorback career.In Tennessee (6-4, 0-1), the Razorbacks face the top-blocking team in the conference. The Lady Vols average 2.83 blocks per set and are led by league leader Farren Powe who posts 1.46 blocks per set. Libero Chloe Goldman controls the defense behind the block with 4.54 digs per set, the second-best average in the conference. Returning All-SEC first-team selection Nikki Fowler leads Tennessee with 113 kills.Entering the weekend, the 17th-ranked Wildcats are the top hitting team in the conference (.286 hitting percentage and 14.66 kills per set) and are under the direction of 2008 SEC Player of the Year Sarah Rumley. She leads the conference with 11.82 assists per set. Kentucky (11-1, 1-0) returns four all-conference performers with Rumley, Sarah Mendoza, Becky Pavan and Lauren Rapp. Mendoza leads the team and is third in the SEC with 4.16 kills per set.Pulliza spent three seasons (2004-07) as an assistant coach for the Kentucky program. During his tenure, the Wildcats made three NCAA Tournament appearances. Sunday’s match is scheduled for a 12:30 p.m. (CT) start at Memorial Coliseum and will be televised in Lexington by the local CBS affiliate.The Tennessee-Kentucky trip is the first of back-to-back road trips for the Razorbacks. After match-week preparations back in Fayetteville, Arkansas will travel to Georgia and Auburn next weekend. Live stats will be available for the Tennessee and Kentucky matches and will be accessible at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
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