FAYETTEVILLE – After a week away from action, the University of Arkansas volleyball team returns to the court this weekend for a pair of Southeastern Conference road matches. The road trip begins Friday with a matchup against Georgia. First serve of the weekend opener is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT) at the Ramsey Center in Athens, Ga. In Sunday’s finale, the Razorbacks take on Western Division foe Auburn at 1:30 p.m.
Arkansas enters the weekend with a 16-8 overall record and an 8-5 mark in SEC play. The team is currently tied for first place in the SEC Western Division with LSU. The Razorbacks are riding a four-match winning streak-all by straight-set decision-and have won six of their last seven matches. Including this weekend’s slate, Arkansas has seven matches remaining in the regular season.
"We’ve been talking a lot about maximum effort," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "You can see it coming through in some of the scrappy plays but where you see maximum effort affect the match is in the defensive numbers. We knew that effort would reflect in the numbers and for the past two weeks, I feel like we’ve been giving that maximum effort. We just have to be able to keep it up. If we want to close out this season as an NCAA Tournament team, we have to give maximum effort. That’s the reality of any team that wants to make it into the (field of) 64."
The Razorbacks are one of the top defensive teams in the SEC. During the season, Arkansas averages 2.49 blocks per set, the second-best mark in the conference, and is holding its opponents to a .167 hitting percentage, tied for the second-lowest figure by an SEC team. In conference matches, the Razorbacks are also second in the SEC with 15.33 digs per set.
Offensively, the team is paced by outside hitters Kelli Stipanovich (3.39 kills per set) and Jasmine Norton (3.30 k/s) who are ranked eighth and ninth, respectively, in kills per set among SEC attackers. Middle blocker Kasey Heckelman is eighth in the conference in hitting percentage while Amanda Anderson carries a .311 attack efficiency during SEC play. Raymariely Santos is sixth among SEC setters with 9.89 assists per set.
In the all-time series with Georgia, the Razorbacks hold a 16-8 advantage despite a five-set loss to UGA earlier this season in Fayetteville. Arkansas has won nine of 13 matches played in Athens. Against Auburn, the Razorbacks own a 30-6 lead in the all-time series and a 14-3 advantage in matches played on the Tigers’ home court. Earlier this season, Arkansas had a four-set win over Auburn in Fayetteville.
After a weekend on the road, the Razorbacks return to Barnhill Arena for a Nov. 11 matchup against South Carolina. For more information regarding Razorback volleyball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.