"This is not a warmup meet at all," said Arkansas coach Anne Goodman James. "Drury is a many-time Division II champion. They have two national champions in Cindy Ong and Natalie Cardoza."
Zsuzsa Csobanki, Arkansas' senior Olympian from Budapest, Hungary, will swim against Ong in the butterfly, while Lady'Backs senior distance All-American Whitney Lynn will oppose Cardoza.
"Zsuzsa gave us a slide show with 500 pictures she took at Athens this summer," Goodman James said. "Her leadership is very important for our team."
Arkansas junior captain Kristen Thibodeaux is out for the season with a knee injury, but newcomer Emily Gregory of Burnsville, Minn., a two-time state champion in the butterfly, has taken up the slack.
The Lady'Backs should dominate the diving events Friday, even without freshman Tori Kennedy of Canada, who has gone to Brazil to compete in a junior international meet.
Though Arkansas' No. 19 golf team did not win the Lady Razorback Invitational this week at Pinnacle in Rogers, junior Courtney Mahon remained optimistic.
"We're capable of going a long way this year and in future years," Mahon said. "We have great team chemistry; we all get along great and support each other. We'll learn from this tournament, and work on what each of us needs to improve."
Lady'Backs second-year basketball coach Susie Gardner said her team's first three days of practice (for a total of about nine hours) went well, with lots of hustle and enthusiasm.
The emphasis has all been on defense, with Gardner encouraging the players to take chances both in the press and in the half court.
Gardner will take junior guard Rochelle Vaughn with her to a Southeastern Conference Media Day next Thursday in Birmingham, Ala., then fly back for the Red-White game that night in Bud Walton Arena.
VOLLEYBALL TEAM AT HOME
After losses at Georgia and Florida last weekend, the UA volleyball team (7-10, 5-3 atop the SEC West) returns home to play Kentucky (11-8, 2-6 SEC) at 7 p.m. Friday and Valparaiso (18-3) at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The Kentucky game can be heard on KXUA, 88.3 FM.
"Kentucky is having one of its better seasons," said UA coach Chris Poole. "They're aggressive, and good defensively.
"Valparaiso was an NCAA Tournament team last year. They're ranked right around where we are -- about 50th. They're big and physical on the blocks, with big hitters."
Poole said Arkansas played well in Games 2 and 4 at Georgia, but poorly in Games 1, 3 and 5.
At Florida, as in Fayetteville last month, Arkansas won the first game from the Gators before fading.
"In the first game we earned 22 of our 30 points," Poole said. "But in the second game we gave away 18, and it continued that way. Florida has the experience to regroup and come back."
The Lady'Backs have added some new things offensively this week, and Poole said. "We need to come out swinging."
SOCCER TEAM FACES A 'MUST'
Arkansas' soccer team, 6-8-2 overall and 2-4-2 after home losses to Auburn and Alabama last week, is expected to beat South Carolina (6-9-2, 0-6-2) at home at 7 p.m. Friday, before traveling to Florida (10-3-3, 4-2-2) on Sunday.
"We couldn't have been happier with the effort we put in last week," said Arkansas coach Gordon Henderson. "We lost 1-0 in the last minute to Auburn, then gave up two world-class goals early against Alabama. Both shots came from outside the box. We came back well and got 17 shots, but lost 3-1."
The Lady'Backs need two more wins to assure an SEC Tournament berth, with three games left. They finish at LSU (6-9-1, 1-6-1) on Oct. 29.
"I think we'll come out flying Friday night," Henderson said. "It's a split travel weekend for all the teams. Our trip to Florida will be a lot easier if we beat South Carolina."
UA freshman Sarah Gwisdala is doubtful for the South Carolina game because of an injured ankle, which is not broken but very sore. Tina Burger could move up to the front line to replace her.
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