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Volleyball hosts NCAA Tournament matches

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Volleyball hosts NCAA Tournament matches

FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas volleyball team learned it would host NCAA first and second round matches in Barnhill Arena Dec. 1-2 via a national selection show Sunday. The Lady Razorbacks open NCAA Tournament action with Missouri State. Oklahoma faces Oral Roberts in the other first-round match. The winners meet in the second round match on Saturday. The Lady Razorback Ticket Office opens at 9:00 a.m. Monday. Please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK for more information. "I thought we had a chance," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "If someone would have asked me, I would have guessed the teams in our region. It just seemed to fit. I wasn’t sure how big of an impact last weekend would have on us hosting but I felt confident in our strength of schedule and RPI all year. "I feel like I know the other teams pretty well and I know that we’re going to have to play well to advance," said Poole. "Missouri State will come in strong and that’s going to be a battle from the first serve. It’s going to be some very exciting volleyball and I hope our fans come out and support us." The Lady Razorbacks finished the regular season with a 16-12 overall record and a 9-11 mark against a much-improved Southeastern Conference schedule. Arkansas blasted out of the gate winning seven of its first eight suffering its lone loss to No. 16 Brigham Young at Kansas in tournament action. The Lady’Backs picked up what turned out to be big wins against Oklahoma, Sacramento State and Stephen F. Austin all of whom got into the tournament. But the Lady’Backs ran into a buzz saw as the SEC schedule started. Arkansas dropped back-to-back road matches at Kentucky and at No.13 Tennessee to start the league schedule and went on a five-match losing streak finishing 3-7 through the first half of the double-round robin schedule. The Lady’Backs regrouped viewing the next 10 matches as a new season and took advantage of a fresh start. Arkansas opened the second season avenging earlier season losses to No. 25 Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn winning five in a row and played the last 10 matches with a 6-4 record. Arkansas’ senior class is the first in program history to reach the NCAA Tournament all four seasons. This week is the first time since 1998 the Lady’Backs have hosted early round matches. Senior Denitza Koleva was the season-long go-to player. The Sofia, Bulgaria, native began the year with six consecutive double-doubles for kills and digs and tallied 20 on the year. She posted a career-best 29 kills against Mississippi and 23 digs against Auburn and ranks in the top 20 in nearly every career statistical category. Seniors Amy Allison and Kele Brewer have also been key players for the Lady’Backs. Allison, who ranked second in the nation last year in total blocks, has again been the top blocker for Arkansas this year. Allison got out to a slow start but came on strong at the mid-season point. She hit .298 to lead the team and averaged 1.25 blocks per game during the regular season. Brewer battled injury all season but missed just four matches all year. She averaged 1.94 kills per game and 1.46 digs per game for the year. "This senior class may be one of 10 or 15 in the country who have gone all four years," said Poole. "They just found a way to get it done and won some big matches. This is a huge accomplishment for them and I’m very proud of them."



Sports Category : Volleyball (W)