2009 Arkansas Razorbacks Volleyball
Once you move beyond the Ole Miss Lady Rebels, in the SEC West division, you really move into a lower tier territory of competition. The remaining 3 teams in the division are significantly below the field as far as competitiveness, and it remains to be seen whether any of these 3 are ready to make a move into the next level. The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks are, of the 3 weakest teams, probably the team closest to making a move to solvency.
Very little went right for the Lady Razorbacks in 2008. The team played badly against everyone. The team played badly everywhere. The team went 7-23 over the course of the season. The team's record in the SEC was equally poor, going 4-16 overall, a winning percentage of only .200. And in a somewhat worrisome turn of events, the team actually had a worse record on the home hardwood thanon the road. At home, the team managed a record of only 4-11, vs. a record of 3-9 on the road.
What to Look for in 2009
One thing that has to be a real concern for the Lady Razorbacks is that this team, already hurting for consistent performance, is actually taking a massive hit as a result of the departure of graduating seniors. Now, there are multiple ways to look at this. On one hand, when a team is performing this badly, perhaps the cycling out of underperforming talent is a good thing. That said, it is concerning that 4 players, Christine Lawrence, Yun Tang, Destiny Clark, and Cara Dortsch, are all departing. They do represent the little consistency this club had to offer.
On offense, the team shouldn't take too big of a hit as a result of the departure of its seniors. The team's leader in kills per game was Kelli Stipanovich, who averaged 2.83 kills per game. While she is considered by many to be a somewhat atypical attacker, she has elevated her game and is a solid contributor. However, she may need to do more, as there is not a lot of attack depth behind her. One of the few secondary attack contributors is Heathery Royal, at 2.17 kills per game.
Blocks per game is one area of the game in which this team is going to experience a big hit as a result of graduation, as the team's 2 top blockers are both gone in Tang (.99 blocks per game) and Lawrence (.67). It is absolutely imperative that Kristin Seaton (.58 blocks per game) step up her defensive game to compensate.
The team should be better represented by the 2008 leaders on the back line. 3 of the 4 leading diggers are, in fact, returning. The leader, Phoebe Batista, returns with her average of 3.13 digs per game. She is joined by Heather Royal at 2.26 digs per game, and MacKenzie Rhea at 1.54.
The Lady Razorbacks are not in a position to do much more than finish 4th, despite the weaker nature of the SEC West division. However, what is going to be interesting to watch is if the Lady Razorbacks are able to close ground o0n the top 3 teams in the division, as forward momentum is the best that can be hoped for at this point.
You can read more about last year's Arkansas Razorbacks Volleyball 2008 Arkansas Razorbacks Volleyball.
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