RAZORBACKS AT THE VIRGINIA TECH INVITATIONABOUT LAST WEEK Arkansas won its second match in a row downing Texas-Arlington in three sets Tuesday in Barnhill Arena. Freshman Jasmine Norton paced Arkansas with 11 kills in what was a balanced effort by the Razorbacks. Arkansas is 2-2 to start the year.
UP NEXT The Razorbacks travel to the Virginia Tech Invitational Friday and Saturday. Arkansas opens tournament play with Norfolk State Friday followed by matches with East Carolina and host Virginia Tech Saturday. It is the program’s first trip to Virginia Tech for tournament play.
ANDERSON EARNS ALL-TOURNAMENT AT TCU Freshman Amanda Anderson earned all-tournament team honors at the TCU Invitational this weekend. Anderson, a middle blocker from Euless, Texas, paced Arkansas to a 1-2 weekend. Anderson hit a team-best .436 with 30 kills, 2.73 kills-per-set and had a team-best 12 blocks in the three matches.
BAUTISTA HAS CAREER DAY Sophomore Phoebe Bautista tallied 29 digs against TCU setting a new career-best for the Oakland, Calif., native. Bautista bettered her pervious best of 27 set against Tulsa last season.
NORTON POSTS FIRST DOUBLE-DOUBLE Freshman Jasmine Norton tallied the first double-double of the year in the first match with TCU. Norton recorded 23 kills and 17 digs to lead the Razorbacks. Both are season and career-bests for Norton.
THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT Arkansas is bigger and more physical this year than the Razorbacks were in 2008. One clear indication of the Razorbacks’ increased size is evident in the photo below. Freshman Allison Johnson (#9) stands one foot, one inch taller than sophomore Phoebe Bautista (#1) and she is 10 inches taller that sophomore Mackenzie Rhea (#13). Johnson, a middle blocker from Sycamore, Ill., is listed at a lanky 6-3 on the roster. Bautista is 5-2 and Rhea checks in at 5-5. Johnson’s 6-3 build is not the tallest to ever play for Arkansas. Sarah Kincaid (2002-03) was listed at 6-5. Bautista, however, is a record-setter having the distinction of being the shortest player on a Razorback roster.
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH The Hokies enter the weekend with a perfect 3-0 record with victories over Montana, UNC-Greensboro and Liberty. The Razorbacks trail VT, 0-1, in the series with the Hokies downing Arkansas in 2008 during tournament play. Tech has five starters and its libero back from that team.
ABOUT ECU This is the Razorbacks’ first meeting with ECU. The Pirates are 1-2 this season with losses to Wright State and VCU and with a win over St. John’s. ECU is hitting .197 as a team this season behind stellar play from Kelly Derby who is hitting .412 with a team-leading 12 blocks.
ABOUT NORFOLK STATE The Spartans enter the weekend with a 1-2 record. NSU lost to Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Texas-El Paso and have defeated Texas Southern this year. NSU has struggled this early season hitting just 0.88 as a team. This is Arkansas’ second meeting with NSU. The Razorbacks won the first match-up in 2007.
Did You Know?—Freshman Cassie Clarke’s brother, Rotnei, plays basketball for Arkansas.—The Razorbacks has three Arkansan’s on the roster…senior Kristin Seaton (Ft. Smith), Cassie Clake (Fayetteville), Katelyn McCarthy (Bentonville)—Puerto Rico connection….Arkansas’ head coach Robert Pulliza is from Puerto Rico as is current player Janeliss Torres-Lopez (Salinas). Denise Baez (Guaynabo) and Yarleen Santiago (Arecibo) were also from Puerto Rico.—Arkansas faces Loyola Marymount, Grambling State, East Carolina, Virginia Tech and Jacksonville State for the first time in program history this year.
WHERE ARE ALL THE JUNIORS The Razorbacks do not technically have a junior on this year’s team. Both Phoebe Bautista and Mackenzie Rhea are juniors academically but both have sat out a redshirt season. They are listed as sophomores on the 2009 roster.
A LOT OF NEW FACES The 2009 team has one of the largest freshmen classes in program history. The Razorbacks also had eight newcomers for the 1994 season — the first season of volleyball at Arkansas.
PULLIZA’S FIRST CLASS RANKED Robert Pulliza and his staff have assembled a nationally-ranked recruiting class, PrepVolleyball.com announced this summer. Pulliza’s first recruiting class with the Razorbacks is ranked in the top 45 in the country by PrepVolleyball.com, the premier club and high school volleyball source in the country. The 2009 recruiting class evaluated in the ranking includes Amanda Anderson, Cassie Clarke, Kendall Cleveland, Katelyn McCarthy and Jasmine Norton for the 2009 season. Anderson is a 6-2 middle from Colleyville, Texas. Cleveland is a 5-11 outside hitter from Houston, Texas, and Norton is a 5-9 outside hitter from Rowlett, Texas. Both Clarke (Fayetteville) and McCarthy (Bentonville) are Arkansas natives. Janeliss Torres-Lopez is not included in the rankings because she is considered an international player and Allison Johnson does not qualify for the rankings because she is a transfer. PrepVolleyball.com ranked the top 30 recruiting classes of 2009 and followed up with Highest Honorable Mention and Honorable Mention. The selection process is conducted by a panel of college coaches from several levels of volleyball. College transfers and international student-athletes usually did not factor into the selection unless she had significant playing time in the United States.
THE HOME OPENER Arkansas opened the home season with a Tuesday night win against Texas-Arlington in Barnhill Arena Sept. 1. The Razorbacks are 13-3 all-time in the home openers. The Razorbacks won their first 10 consecutive home openers in program history before falling in 2004 to Kansas. Arkansas also lost its home openers in 2007 and 2008, but won in 2009.