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SEC slate continues Friday against Alabama

BY ANDRES FOCIL
SEC slate continues Friday against Alabama

FAYETTEVILLE – Off a pair of road wins last weekend, the University of Arkansas volleyball team returns to Barnhill Arena Friday evening to play Alabama. First serve of the Southeastern Conference matchup is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CT). Friday’s match with Alabama has been designated as the team’s "Dig for the Cure" event for the season.

Single-match tickets are $4, while fans 17 years and younger are admitted for free. University of Arkansas students attending volleyball matches this season are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter Barnhill Arena.

"The conference (schedule) doesn’t get any easier," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "You get off the road and come home to Alabama and Missouri. It’s going to be another tough weekend. Alabama is a very athletic team with some very good arms that can score a lot of points, so they will be tough to defend."

Arkansas enters the Alabama-Missouri weekend with a 16-6 overall record and a 7-4 mark in conference play. During last weekend’s road trip, the Razorbacks swept matches at Kentucky and Mississippi State. The win at UK was Arkansas’ first win in Lexington since the 2003 season, while the win at Mississippi State was the program’s 33rd win against the Bulldogs, the most by the team against any SEC opponent.

The Razorbacks lead the all-time series with Alabama, 31-7, and have won the previous six meetings between the two teams. Arkansas has won 17 of the 19 matches played at Barnhill Arena. Last season, the Razorbacks picked up a four-set win in Tuscaloosa and a straight-set victory in Fayetteville.

With Jasmine Norton and Raymariely Santos reaching career milestones last weekend, senior middle blocker Amanda Anderson enters the Alabama match three kills shy of 700 for her career. Through the first 22 matches of the season, she is averaging 2.26 kills per set and carries a .364 hitting percentage. Last weekend, Norton recorded her 1,000th career digs and Santos dished out her 2,500th career assist.

In the Oct. 22 release of the NCAA national statistics, the Razorbacks are ranked 37th in the country with a .251 team hitting percentage, tied for 22nd with 14.29 kills per set and tied for 32nd in the NCAA with 13.13 assists per set. Individually, Anderson ranks 46th overall in the country with her hitting percentage. During conference play, the Euless, Texas, native is hitting .385 which is third in the SEC.

In the most release of the RPI for the 2012 volleyball season, Arkansas is ranked 25th in the nation. The Razorbacks are one of five SEC teams in the top 30 and one of eight in the top 65. Four of Arkansas’ non-conference opponents-Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma and Tulsa-are also positioned inside the top 65. The Razorbacks are also receiving votes in this week’s AVCA national rankings.

Alabama enters the weekend with a 14-9 overall record and a 3-8 tally in SEC play. The Crimson Tide offense is paced by Kayla Fitterer at 3.65 kills per set and Sierra Wilson at 10.93 assists per set. Defensively, Cristina Arenas leads the way with 3.43 digs per set. Last weekend, Alabama dropped a pair of home matches to Florida and Georgia.

Following its matchup with the Crimson Tide, Arkansas will return to Barnhill Arena Sunday afternoon to face Missouri (15-7, 7-5 SEC). First serve of the Western Division match is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. The two programs last met during the 2005 season, prior to the Tigers joining on the SEC. Missouri leads the all-time series with Arkansas, 3-2.

For weekend coverage of Arkansas volleyball, including interactive blog, live stats and audio stream, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Both matches will be broadcast this weekend on KXUA 88.3 FM in Fayetteville. Fans can also keep up with Razorback volleyball this season with its sport-specific RazorbackVB Facebook and Twitter pages.



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)