FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas volleyball coach Chris Poole looks upon his team's tough schedule as a blessing, not a curse.
"Fifteen of our 19 remaining matches are against teams ranked ahead of us," Poole said. "Is the glass half-empty or half-full? I see it as half-full, because we have a chance to move up in the ratings."
The Lady Razorbacks (3-8, 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference) rank just ninth among SEC teams in computer rating points.
Time was, the SEC volleyball consisted of Florida, Arkansas and the 10 dwarfs. Not so anymore.
"This season the SEC has the third-best winning percentage, after the Pac-10 and Big 10," Poole said. "That gives us opportunities to move up."
Tennessee is No. 6 in the RPI, Alabama is No. 8 and perennial SEC champ Florida is No. 9.
"Every team in the SEC is in the top 140 -- which has never happened before," Poole said. "Ole Miss and Mississippi State, the teams we play here this weekend, are the best they've been in years. Mississippi State beat No. 30 South Carolina last week, and Ole Miss has already picked off Baylor."
Poole said the Lady'Backs have improved their serving and blocking in recent weeks.
"Our serving is taking the other team out of its offense at times," he said. "And we're averaging three blocks a game in the SEC."
UA RUNNERS HELD BACK
The Lady'Backs cross country team had been penciled in for meets at Oklahoma State and North Texas this week, but is staying home instead.
While coach Lance Harter is out of town this weekend, many of the Lady Razorbacks will run in the Kidney Foundation Road Race, a 5K charity event in Fayetteville, beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Alison Zeinner Rush led Arkansas to a fifth-place finish in the Roy Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., last week as she placed 18th.
UA sophomore Kristina Smith of Anchorage, Alaska, was 34th in the 6,000-meter race.
LEWIS SHINES FOR GOLF TEAM
Stacy Lewis tied a UA record with an opening-round 68 in the Jeannine McHaney Invitational golf tournament in Lubbock, Texas, last weekend before closing with a 76 for 144 and third place in the rain-shortened, 36-hole event.
Arkansas' Courtney Mahon and Amanda McCurdy tied for 21st place at 152. Mahon shot 76-76, while McCurdy carded 79-73.
The Lady'Backs return to action Oct. 8-10 in the Mercedes-Benz Collegiate Classic in Knoxville, Tenn.
They play host to their own tournament at Pinnacle in Rogers on Oct. 17-19.
TENNIS TEAM SERVES IT UP
Arkansas' tennis team, which nearly swept its Fall Invitational two weekends ago, returns to action in the Kentucky Fall Classic in Lexington Friday through Sunday.
Junior transfer Vlatka Javanovic breezed through the singles for Arkansas in its own event, losing just five games in a 4-0 run.
Javanovic, a native Croatian, helped the Lady'Backs go 35-9 in tournament matches.
"Vlatka was very impressive in her first week as a Lady Razorback," said UA coach Michael Hegarty.
SOCCER TEAM IN THICK OF SEC
Arkansas' surprising soccer team, 1-0-1 in SEC play, travels to Mississippi State (1-1) on Friday and to Ole Miss (1-1) on Sunday.
The Lady'Backs are 7-2 vs. MSU but only 2-7 against Ole Miss through the years.
"Ole Miss is a very quick team that will really test our zone shape," said UA coach Gordon Henderson. "We'll have to get rid of the major gaffes. I don't think Kentucky ever got behind our zone last week, so we'll have to do more of the same, and better."
Poole: Glass Is 'Half-Full'
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