Volleyball faces big road test
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas volleyball team faces three challenging road matches this weekend at the Varney’s KSU Invitational in Manhattan, Kan. The Lady Razorbacks (6-1) open play Friday at 12:00 p.m., taking on host and 22nd-ranked Kansas State (5-2) in the tournament opener. Arkansas next faces Fresno State (1-5) at 5:00 p.m., Friday as play continues. The Lady’Backs meet Northern Iowa (3-4) at 10:00 a.m. Saturday as play concludes for Arkansas. "This weekend will be a very big challenge for us," said Arkansas head coach Chris Poole. "K-State has a 6-3 player from Russia who might be one of the toughest players we face all season." The Lady Razorbacks have been paced by senior Jessica Dorrell for most of the preseason. The Aledo, Texas, product is leading the team with 117 kills and a 4.14 kill per game average. She has earned all-tournament team MPV honors for two consecutive weeks. Teammate junior Christina Lawrence is also off to a great start for Arkansas. The Sullivan, Mo., native has 85 kills and is hitting .365 through the first seven matches. Senior Ashley Miller stands ready to reach a milestone this weekend. Miller is just five digs shy of the school record of 1,659 held by Krystal Osborne (1994-97). It is one of the oldest records on file at Arkansas but Miller should reach that mark in the first game, certainly the first match, of the tournament weekend. Miller and her teammates will have their hands full this weekend. Kansas State comes into the match ranked 22nd in the country with their losses coming to ranked teams including No. 5 UCLA. Natalya Korobkova leads the team with 116 kills and a 5.04 kill per game average. She is hitting .263. KSU also has three players averaging one or more blocks per game. UNI is no slouch either. The Panthers’ losses have come against No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 15 BYU as well as Arkansas’ Southeastern Conference rival Kentucky. UNI dropped a match Wednesday to Iowa State Wednesday as well. "Going on the road last weekend was a test for us," said Poole. "We didn’t play great last weekend but now that everyone has a feel for the routine on the road, we can concentrate a little more on execution and consistency. I’m pleased with where we are right now as a team but I’m certainly not satisfied." The Varney’s KSU Invitational is the Lady’Backs’ final action before beginning SEC play. Arkansas opens hosting Ole Miss Friday, Sept. 14, at 7:00 p.m., and LSU Sunday Sept. 26 at 1:30 p.m. For more information about Arkansas volleyball or for tickets please call 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.