SEC Volleyball Preview: Arkansas
When the University of Arkansas volleyball team takes the court of its Aug. 27 season opener against Missouri-Kansas City, it will mark the beginning of the third season under head coach Robert Pulliza. On the court, the Razorbacks welcome back the sophomore duo of outside hitter Jasmine Norton and middle blocker Amanda Anderson.
Norton, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Year and AVCA All-American, will lead the offensive attack after averaging a league-best 4.44 kills per game during conference play last season. Anderson, along with Norton, earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team after a strong first season in Cardinal and White. With no seniors on its 2010 roster, Arkansas will look to junior Kelli Stipanovich for leadership on and off the court. The St. Louis, Mo., native was second on the team last season with 2.48 kills per game.
At setter, sophomore Cassie Clarke and freshman Raymariely Santos will battle for the starting nod to direct the Razorbacks’ offense. Behind the block, Arkansas has lost starting libero Phoebe Bautista to an offseason knee injury but will move forward with junior Mackenzie Rhea and other defensive newcomers.
The Razorbacks’ roster will have seven newcomers for the upcoming season including Santos, Alex Fitzmorris, Brooke Fournier, Hayley Koop, Clarissa Pavey, Adrianna Vazquez and Charmaine Whitmore. With a six-win overall improvement, and three-win jump in conference play, from year one to two under Pulliza, the Razorbacks take the floor confidently looking to the next step as a program.