Lady'Backs travel to South Carolina Friday
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas volleyball team returns to Southeastern Conference action with a road match at South Carolina Friday. Arkansas (12-8, 5-7 SEC) enters the weekend on a two match winning streak in which the Lady Razorbacks picked up big wins over No. 25 Tennessee and Kentucky avenging earlier season losses. This weekend’s road series includes the Friday match at South Carolina (12-11, 5-7 SEC) as well as a Sunday afternoon tilt at Georgia (6-16, 2-10 SEC), both of whom Arkansas has defeated once this year. "We’ve certainly been in a better mood this week and we’re looking forward to playing again," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "We picked up wins over both of these teams earlier this year but we know it’s much different on the road. We’re trying to prepare well for both opponents and we’ll see what happens." This season has been an up-and-down one for Arkansas. The Lady’Backs bolted out of the gates with a 7-1 non-conference record against one of the toughest schedules in the country. Conference play started with a pair of losses to Tennessee and Kentucky and the first half of league play ended with a five-match losing streak, one of the longest in school history. "Getting those wins last weekend was really good for our confidence," said Poole. "We weren’t feeling very good about ourselves in the recent weeks. We were so close in so many of those games but just couldn’t finish them." Arkansas opens the weekend with the Gamecocks who have an identical league record (5-7) as Arkansas. Carolina has some big wins however, with a four-game win over No. 8 Florida, two wins over Auburn and a victory over Mississippi. The Lady’Backs lost to all of those league opponents in the first meetings. Add to that one of the strongest hitters in the SEC in Shonda Cole and South Carolina will be a formidable opponent on the Gamecocks’ home court. "Shonda Cole is one of the best players in the country," said Poole. "We know we have to just slow her down because you can’t stop her." Cole had 20 kills and 12 digs in the first meeting between these teams. The weekend continues at Georgia Sunday in a 1:00 p.m. match. The Bulldogs have struggled since starting conference play with just two wins downing both Mississippi State and Auburn. Maria Taylor is the team’s leading hitter and Georgia is 4-6 on their home court this year. "We know that anything can happen on the road," said Poole. "The conference has more balance and is so much better this year than at any other time since we’ve had volleyball. It’s great and it makes every match interesting. While we have prepared for both of these teams, we really are focusing on our side of the net. We’re going to concentrate on limiting our mental mistakes and take care of the ball." Arkansas is working its way through the SEC schedule for the second time this year. The Lady’Backs have just three regular season matches remaining on the 2006 schedule. Arkansas hosts Auburn and Florida Nov. 3 and Nov. 5, respectively, followed by senior day against Alabama Nov. 12. For more information about Arkansas volleyball or for tickets please call the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-BACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.