About the University of ArkansasArkansas made it three in a row this weekend defeating Mississippi and Mississippi State, both in four games, in Barnhill Arena. The wins are the second and third consecutive victories for the Lady Razorbacks and run Arkansas’ overall record to 5-8, 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference.
Back on topWith the sweep of the Magnolia State, the University of Arkansas returns to the top of the Southeastern Conference Western Division standings with a 3-1 record. Alabama had held the top spot but losses at Georgia and No. 5 Florida this weekend by the Crimson Tide helped the Lady’Backs move up. Arkansas was tied with Mississippi State but the Lady’Backs defeated the Bulldogs to secure the top position in the West. Tennessee and No. 5 Florida are atop the Eastern Division with neither program suffering a loss in league play at this point of the season. October 22 is a red-letter day for the Lady Vols and the Gators as the teams meet in Knoxville for the first time this season. See page four for the complete SEC standings.
Gitter DoneSophomore Amy Allison is not the most flashy player on the floor for Arkansas but she’s getting it done on the court for the Lady’Backs. Allison had a solid weekend against the Magnolia State with just two hitting errors in eight games. She leads Arkansas in SEC only matches hitting .390 with 30 kills and 2.00 kills per game. She is also first among the hitters in all matches with a .241 hitting percentage that includes 111 kills and 2.22 kpg this year.
First Game BluesArkansas has only won the first game of the match four times all year. The Lady’Backs won game one against Michigan State but lost the match. They won game one against No. 5 Florida but also lost the match. Arkansas notched a game-one win against Georgia and again against Mississippi winning both of those matches.
Splitting TimeArkansas has recently switched to a 6-2 offense with six hitters and two setters in the lineup. The setting tandem of junior Iva Docekalova and freshman Amanda Eskridge has been good for both players as the hitting efficiency continues to improve. Docekalova has recorded 400 assists this year and is averaging 8.16 assists per game while Eskridge has 168 assists and a 5.25 apg average.
So CroseJunior Karla Crose had a good weekend against the Magnolia State posting 20 blocks in the two matches. The Lincoln, Neb., native recorded a career-best 12 against Mississippi adding eight versus Mississippi State. Crose leads the Lady’Backs with 1.28 blocks per game. She has six block solos and 58 block assists for 64.0 total blocks. She’s also been careful at the net with just two blocking errors this year.
Point Me In The Right DirectionPoints and points per game isn’t a statistic that gets much talk in volleyball. However, it’s nice to know who is on the court when the points are scored. Arkansas is currently paced by senior Jennifer Haaser with 218.5 points and a 4.36 point per game average this year. Sophomore Denitza Koleva is second with 161.0 points and 3.22 ppg. As a team, Arkansas’ opponents have out-scored the Lady’Backs 940.0 to 921.5.
Can You Dig It? Freshman Ashley Miller stepped up early in her career and currently leads the Lady’Backs with 180 digs and a 3.60 dig per game season. Junior Iva Docekalova is chasing Miller with 113 digs and a 2.31 dpg average.
The Western WallArkansas has always been a strong blocking team. That trend is continuing this year despite the slow start. Arkansas has posted seven matches with double-digit blocks including a season-best 20 against Mississippi. The Lady’Backs have had three double-digit block matches in a row including Georgia (15), Mississippi (20) and Mississippi State (13.5).
Hey, get in the gameArkansas head coach Chris Poole has had the opportunity to play 12 of 13 players on this season’s roster. The only player not to see court time is redshirt freshman Christina Lawrence. The Lady’Backs have used five other freshman in the lineup and Poole likes the confidence of the newcomers. Jessica Dorrell has been among the team’s leaders on the offense. She ranks among the team leaders with 96 kills and a 2.34 kill per game average in her first season of collegiate play. Amanda Eskridge has been seeing more court time as well. She has 135 assists and three blocks. The other freshmen are all defensive specialists. Kelli Cole, Ashley Miller and Ashley Wiechman have all contributed this year.
Tough schedule to start the yearThe Lady Razorbacks open 2004 with nine of their 10 first opponents ranked or getting votes in the USA Today/American Volleyball Coaches Association. Here’s a look at how those 10 teams have fared to date.
|Kansas||10-4 overall, 1-4 in Big 12; in and out of poll|
|Pacific||8-3, 5-1 Big West, defeated No. 18 LBSU, votes in poll|
|No. 12 Santa Clara||11-2, moved up to No. 12 from No. 17 this week|
|Michigan State||6-6, 1-3 Big Ten, votes in preseason poll|
|No. 1 Washington||12-2, 4-0 Pac-10, moved to No. 1 this week|
|Wichita State||9-5, 5-0 in Missouri Valley, votes in poll|
|Ball State||9-6, 3-1 Mid-Cont., got votes in preseason poll|
|Houston||2-12, 1-1 Conf. USA|
|No. 24 Illinois||10-3, 1-3 Big Ten; fell from No. 19 this week|
|No. 8 Florida||12-2, 4-0 in SEC; lost to No. 18 Texas this week|
Home On The RangeBarnhill Arena has always been a friend to Lady Razorback teams. Since its birth as one of the top basketball facilities to its new home for volleyball and gymnastics Barnhill has provided its teams with winning records. The Lady’Back volleyball team is 128-30 (as of Oct. 5, 2004) in Barnhill all-time. Arkansas’ best season at home was a 17-2 season in 1998 – the year the Lady’Backs reached the Sweet 16 in the postseason. The Lady’Backs have never had a losing season in Barnhill and are 4-4 this year.
On The Road AgainThe Lady Razorbacks are coming off the longest home stand of the year dating back to Sept. 17-18, and the C&C Services Invitational. Arkansas now embarks on one of the longest road stretches beginning at Auburn this weekend. The Lady’Backs have back-to-back road weekends and face four Southeastern Conference opponents away from home. Arkansas travels to Auburn (Oct. 8), Alabama (Oct. 10), Georgia (Oct. 15) and No. 5 Florida (Oct. 17). The Lady’Backs opened the year with back-to-back road weekends as well traveling to Santa Clara, Calif., and Wichita, Kan.
About AuburnThe Auburn Tigers evened its overall record at 6-6 (1-3 SEC) this weekend with a pair of Southeastern Conference losses at Florida and Georgia. Auburn put together its best game against the Bulldogs in the final frame of the match, hitting .303 while holding the Bulldogs to a .250 attack percentage. Jennifer Amobi put down six of her team-high 17 kills in the frame, every one of which either brought the Tigers within a point or tied the game at that point, with the last coming at 28-27 UGA.
Arkansas versus the TigersArkansas leads the series with Auburn 20-1. The Tigers’ lone win came in Fayetteville in 1995 in five games. Arkansas has won 14 in a row including two wins last year during the regular season.
About AlabamaThe Alabama Crimson Tide have dramatically improved their level of play this year but struggled last weekend on the road. Bama dropped both league matches first in a surprise three-game setback at Georgia then in three at Florida. The losses saw the Tide fall to 2-2 in the SEC and 12-3 overall. Senior Erin Heffner leads the team with 4.71 kills per game and a .242 hitting percentage in conference matches.
Arkansas versus the Crimson TideArkansas leads series 20-2 over the Crimson Tide. The Lady’Backs only faced Alabama once during the regular season winning in four. Arkansas stepped it up a notch downing the Crimson Tide in three at the SEC Tournament in Columbia, S.C.
A look at the numbersArkansas’ numbers continue to improve as the season progresses. They will again have their hands full this weekend as Southeastern Conference play continues with Auburn and Alabama. Here’s a quick numerical comparison between the three teams.
Career Records WatchJennifer Haaser, the lone senior on the Lady’Backs’ team this year, continues to climb up in the career records lists. She reached the 1000th career kill mark against Illinois Sept. 18th and is currently ninth with 1060 career kills. She ranks 9th for total attempts with 2600, eighth with 93 service aces, third with 84 block solos, fourth in block assists with 438 and fourth for total blocks with 522. Other Lady’Backs in the top 10 include Denitza Koleva who is 15th in kills with 509, Kele Brewer who is 17th in kills with 411 and Karla Crose who is 20th with 279. Koleva is 15th in total attempts (1448) and Brewer is 16th (1253). Setter Iva Docekalova ranks sixth in assists (620) and is seventh in service aces (95). She is third in sapg (0.33) and first in service attempts (1433) followed by Haaser in second (1278).
Arkansas picked to defend Western titleThe University of Arkansas volleyball team was selected to defend its Southeastern Conference Western Division title in a vote of the league’s coaches. Arkansas has dominated the Western Division winning nine of 10 possible titles. The Lady Razorbacks have been selected to win the West in 10 of 11 preseason polls earning nine first place votes and tallying 58 points. (See page two for the complete SEC preseason poll.)
All-Conference returners lead teamThe Lady Razorbacks return three all-SEC selections from a year ago. Back is lone senior and two-time all-SEC selection Jennifer Haaser. Sophomore Denitza Koleva was a second-team selection was the SEC co-freshman of the year last season while teammate Kele Brewer earned selection to the first-ever all-SEC team.
Poole begins 11th seasonArkansas head coach Chris Poole is in his 11th season as the only skipper the program has ever known. The Heber Springs, Ark., native has amassed a 255-109 record at Arkansas including a 126-30 record in Southeastern Conference play.
Lady’Backs dominate SEC Western DivisionTo say Arkansas is successful against Western Division teams is a bit of an understatement. Since adding volleyball in 1994 the Lady Razorbacks have won nine of 10 SEC Western Division titles (surrendering the crown to Alabama in 2000). Arkansas has a 95-6 record against the West during the regular season and is a perfect 7-0 against divisional opponents at the SEC Tournament. The Lady Razorbacks were perfect against the West the previous two seasons with a 10-0 record in 2002 and a 9-9 mark last year. The Lady Razorbacks lead in nearly every statistical category as well. Arkansas is 2-0 versus the West in 2004. Here’s a quick look at the stats prior to this year:
Speaking of the SECThe Lady Razorbacks finished the year ranked in every statistical category in the Southeastern Conference last year. Arkansas was first in the league in blocking averaging 3.21 blocks per game in 2003. The Lady Razorbacks were second in hitting with a .275 mark, in opponent hitting percentage at .169, in service aces with a 2.13 sapg mark and in win/loss percentage with a .938. Arkansas was fourth in assists averaging 14.05 apg, third in kills with a 15.84 mark and sixth in digs with a 14.22 average.
Up NextArkansas has back-to-back road weekends approaching traveling first to Auburn (Oct. 8) and Alabama (Oct. 10), followed by an Eastern Division swing at Georgia (Oct. 15) and No. 5 Florida (Oct. 17).