FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team begins the third weekend of Southeastern Conference play Friday at South Carolina. First serve of the match is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT) at the Volleyball Competition Facility in Columbia. This marks the start of the Razorbacks’ second consecutive weekend on the road.
"This match will certainly tell us how mature we are," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "South Carolina’s record doesn’t indicate how good they are. They played a really, really tough non-conference schedule which has prepared them for the SEC. They have gone to four sets with Tennessee and Kentucky, two top-25 teams, so South Carolina can play ball. We have to be mature enough to identify that and not look at their record as an indication of who they are."
In its last match, Arkansas (8-7, 2-2 SEC) bested Alabama in four sets (25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 25-20) to even its conference record. Jasmine Norton had her third consecutive double-double performance-15 kills and 14 digs-while Kelli Stipanovich added 10 kills against the Crimson Tide. The Razorbacks tallied a .289 hitting percentage during the match, and in the fourth-set clincher, the team posted a .423 mark.
Norton leads the team and is second in the SEC with 3.89 kills per set. She is followed by Stipanovich (2.14 k/s) and Kendall Cleveland (1.93 k/s). Razorback middle blockers Amanda Anderson and Janeliss Torres-Lopez have 1.76 and 1.65 kills per set, respectively. Defensively, Torres-Lopez controls the net with 1.26 blocks per set, including 10 total swats last weekend at Mississippi State and Alabama. During conference play, Arkansas is holding opponents to a .185 hitting percentage, the second-lowest figure in the league.
Last season, Arkansas won both matches against South Carolina, a straight-set victory in Fayetteville and a four-set triumph in Columbia. In the all-time series, the Razorbacks own a 16-9 advantage and have won six of 11 contests on the Gamecocks’ home court.
In its last outing, a non-conference match against The Citadel, South Carolina (3-10, 0-3 SEC) came away with a 3-1 win on their home court, snapping a four-match skid. The Gamecocks’ offensive attack is led by freshman Juliette Thevenin and her 3.61 kills per set, the ffith-best mark in the SEC. She is followed by Megan Laughlin and Cara Howley averaging 2.81 and 2.36 kills per set, respectively. Defensively, libero Hannah Lawing is tops in the conference with 5.32 digs per set.
Following Friday’s contest, the Razorbacks will travel to Gainesville, Fla., for their weekend finale against No. 2 Florida. It will be the highest-ranked opponent for Arkansas since the 1996 season, a matchup against No. 1 Florida in the SEC Tournament. Log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com for more information.
Download: Notes 8_South Carolina, Florida.pdf