FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team has been picked to finish third in the Southeastern Conference Western Division, according the 2010 preseason coaches’ poll released Wednesday by the league office.
In their third season under head coach Robert Pulliza, the Razorbacks received 25 points in the Western Division. Arkansas sits behind defending SEC champion LSU and Auburn in the preseason standings. LSU was picked to repeat as division winner with 13 points, while Auburn is in second place with 19 points. Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama round out the Western Division predictions, respectively.
The Razorbacks return nine letterwinners from last season’s team, including four position starters. Jasmine Norton, a 2010 preseason All-SEC selection, returns as Arkansas’ top attacker from 2009. Kelli Stipanovich was second on the team last season in kills per game and Amanda Anderson was an All-Freshman performer last year.
Cassie Clarke started the last four matches at setter last season and Allison Johnson made 12 starts in the middle during her first season in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks also return Kendall Cleveland, Janeliss Torres-Lopez and Mackenzie Rhea. Behind the block, libero Phoebe Bautista has been lost to an offseason knee injury. Arkansas’ roster features seven newcomers-Alex Fitzmorris, Brooke Fournier, Hayley Koop, Clarissa Pavey, Raymariely Santos, Adriana Vazquez and Charmaine Whitmore-for 2010.
In last year’s preseason coaches’ poll, Arkansas was picked to finish 10th in the conference but exceeded expectations to end the season with the sixth-best record in the league. The Razorbacks posted a three-win improvement during SEC action from year one to two under Pulliza.
Tennessee was selected to win the overall and Eastern Division titles by the SEC coaches. The Lady Vols received nine first-place votes, while Florida picked up the remaining two tallies. Following Tennessee and Florida in the Eastern Division are Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina.
Points were compiled on a 1-2-3-4-5-6 basis for the Western Division and 1-2-3-4-5 for the Eastern Division. Each coach was not allowed to vote for his or her own team and each coach also voted for one team as the overall conference champion.
The Razorbacks open their season Aug. 27 against UMKC on day one of the Arkansas Invitational. First serve of the season opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Barnhill Arena. The rest of the tournament field features the teams from Grambling State and Samford. Season tickets for the upcoming season are available through the UA Ticket Office, by calling 800-982-HOGS or online at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: 2010 sec preseason poll.pdf