Lady'Backs host SMS in SEC Tournament tune-up
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas hosts Southwest Missouri State in a final non-conference tune-up prior to the Southeastern Conference Tournament Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., in Barnhill Arena. Arkansas captured a share of the SEC Western Division title for the 10th time in 11 seasons with a thrilling come-from-behind win at Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Sunday, knocking the Bulldogs out of the tournament. The victory improved Arkansas to 14-13 overall and 10-6 in the SEC but the Lady’Backs will have its hands full with a 19-8 Southwest Missouri State team Tuesday. "Everyone’s talking about the SEC Tournament," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole, "but we still have to take care of business with SMS. They are a solid team that has posted good numbers this year and we definitely can’t overlook them." The Bears enter the match hitting slightly better than Arkansas, .212 to Arkansas’ .183, and out-blocking the Lady’Backs 3.51 to 3.1. "We don’t face too many teams who out-block us," said Poole. "This is going to challenge our offense but I think that’s good right before the tournament. We want to be peaking about now and this is a good challenge heading into the weekend." The upcoming weekend is a big one for the Lady’Backs. Arkansas enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed behind nationally-ranked Florida and Tennessee who are No. 1 and 2, respectively. The Lady’Backs face No. 6 seed LSU, a team that knocked off Arkansas last Friday in Barnhill, Nov. 19 at 1:00 p.m. Should Arkansas advance beyond LSU, they will face the winner of Tennessee/Auburn in the second round Saturday. The Lady’Backs enter the week riding on the arm of lone senior Jennifer Haaser. The Fort Smith, Ark., native leads the team hitting .230 with 3.06 kills per game. The senior, however, is not the only offensive threat for Arkansas. Freshman Jessica Dorrell and sophomores Denitza Koleva and Kele Brewer are also go-to players when Arkansas needs to put the ball down. The bread-and-butter for the Lady’Backs has been its defense. The Lady’Backs rank among the SEC and national leaders in blocking paced by Haaser with a 1.47 block-per-game average. Junior Karla Crose and sophomore Amy Allison are also big parts of the defense with Crose averaging 1.37 bpg and Allison checking in a 1.01. Freshman Ashley Miller has given Arkansas some of its best passing in recent seasons as well. The Vacaville, Calif., native leads the Lady’Backs with 417 digs and a 3.93 dig per game average. The Lady Razorback match with SMS as well as all of the matches from the SEC Tournament can be heard in the Fayetteville area on KXUA, 88.3 FM or on the internet at www.ladybacks.com.