FAYETTEVILLE – Off a three-match stretch on the road, the University of Arkansas volleyball team returns home Friday evening to host South Carolina. First serve of the Southeastern Conference matchup is scheduled for a 7 p.m. (CT) start at Barnhill Arena. The Razorbacks enter the weekend with a 17-9 overall record and a 9-6 mark in SEC play.
"We’re going to have a battle on our hands with South Carolina," head coach Robert Pulliza said. "They’re coming off a good win. They have two very good outside hitters and a setter that is very smart and very aggressive. Every match down the stretch is very important for us so our players are ready and excited for this weekend."
Offensively, the Razorbacks are paced by junior Jasmine Norton, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week. Norton is seventh in the conference with 3.47 kills per set this season. During SEC play, however, she is averaging 3.85 kills per set, good for third among SEC attackers. Senior Kelli Stipanovich is ninth overall in the conference with 3.31 kills per set.
Arkansas has two players ranked inside the conference’s hitting percentage top 10. Junior Kasey Heckelman is seventh on that list with a .309 hitting percentage while junior Janeliss Torres-Lopez is 10th in the SEC with a .301 figure. Sophomore setter Raymariely Santos directs the Razorback offense with 9.92 assists per set, good for sixth in the SEC.
Defensively, Arkansas is ranked second in the conference in opponent hitting percentage and total blocks. The Razorbacks are holding opponents to a .172 hitting percentage and putting up 2.44 blocks per set. During SEC play, the team is averaging 15.17 digs per set, the second-best mark in the league. Individually, freshman libero Christa Alvarez registers 3.58 digs per set.
The Razorbacks own a 19-9 advantage in their all-time series with South Carolina. Earlier this season, Arkansas posted a straight-set victory over South Carolina in Columbia. Arkansas has won nine of the 13 matches against the Gamecocks played at Barnhill Arena.
In continued recognition of its athletic trailblazers, the University of Arkansas will honor former volleyball standouts Melanie Davis and Krystal Osborne during the Razorbacks’ match. Members of the program’s first-ever team in 1994, Davis and Osborne were the first African-American student-athletes in Arkansas volleyball history. Osborne will be in attendance for Friday’s ceremony.
All past and present military personnel will be granted free admission to Friday’s match versus South Carolina in honor of Veteran’s Day. All veterans are encouraged to wear their uniforms at the contest and will be honored at the match. To obtain free admission, military veterans are asked to show their military ID at the ticket booth window on the south entrance of Barnhill Arena. Guests who are accompanying those military veterans may purchase their tickets at this booth as well.
For match-day coverage including interactive blog and live stats, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com. The Arkansas-South Carolina match will also be broadcast on KXUA 88.3 FM in Fayetteville. Students attending volleyball matches are asked to use the street-level entrance on Stadium Drive to enter Barnhill Arena.
Following their matchup with the Gamecocks, Arkansas returns to its home floor Sunday afternoon to take on No. 19 Florida. The weekend finale will be televised by Cox Sports Television and is scheduled for a 1:03 p.m. (CT) first serve. Prior to Sunday’s match, the Razorbacks will recognize their seniors.