Harter Believes His Team Under-rated

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas women's cross country coach Lance Harter believes his team might surprise the experts at Monday's NCAA meet in Terre Haute, Ind.

"They're figuring us for 20th to 30th place, but I think we can do better than that," Harter said.

Arkansas' Alison Zeinner-Rush and Maureen Scott, if they run to their capabilities, are "borderline All-Americans," Harter said. "And if we can run in a compact group, we could pull off a major upset."

Harter quickly added that he didn't mean his team could contend for the title.

"Stanford, Providence, Michigan, Colorado and Duke will fight it out at the top," Harter said. "Providence has jumped in there for one year with some good international runners."

Harter will make one change on his team that placed second in the South Central Regional at Waco, Texas, last week.

"We'll replace freshman Tiffany Redlarczyk with junior Penny Splichal," Harter said. "That gives us a more experienced lineup."

SEC VOLLEYBALL TOURNEY
Arkansas will try to capitalize on a No. 3 seed to play deep into the Southeastern Conference Volleyball Tournament beginning Friday in Gainesville, Fla.

The Lady Razorbacks (15-13), who tied for the SEC West title with Alabama at 10-6, hope to advance to the tournament final for the ninth time in 11 years.

They open at 1 p.m. Friday with the LSU Tigers, with whom they split a pair of matches during the season.

"We're happy to be the third seed," said UA coach Chris Poole. "If somebody had told me in September that we would do that well, I probably would have grabbed it.

"But after the last seven days, I'm disappointed that we lost to South Carolina and LSU."

Because of that, the Lady'Backs had to rally from two games down to win at Mississippi State on Sunday for a share of the West title.

"Suddenly a switch came on," Poole said. "We settled down, created some opportunities and relaxed, while Mississippi State got tight. When we're backed into a corner, we seem to make something happen."

Arkansas also rallied from two games behind to beat a 19-9 Southwest Missouri State team on Tuesday night, as Jennifer Haaser had 24 kills, 17 digs and 9 blocks.

The Lady'Backs haven't handled prosperity as well at times, losing twice to Florida and once to Tennessee after winning the first games in those three matches.

Poole is holding his breath that freshman libero Ashley Miller stays healthy this week. Miller "tweaked" a groin muscle during the Mississippi State match.

If successful against LSU, Arkansas would meet the Tennessee-Auburn winner on Saturday in a semifinal. Top seed Florida (like Tennessee, 15-1 in the SEC) is likely to reach the final on the other side of the bracket.

The Lady Vols outlasted Florida 3-2 in Gainesville on Sunday, falling behind 2-1 before winning the last two games 31-29 and 15-12.

SWIM TEAM EYES NCAA
Arkansas swimming coach Anne Goodman James announced that two of her athletes will undergo season-ending surgery this week.

Kellyn Williams, a freshman diver from Manhattan, Kan., who suffered a dislocated shoulder, will have surgery today.

Kristen Thibodeaux, a junior captain and freestyler, will have knee ligament surgery on Friday. Her injury was not swimming-related.

"Both of them will still be here five years," Goodman James assured.

The UA team will compete Friday through Sunday at the Aggie Invitational in College Station, Texas, site of last year's NCAA meet and this year's zone diving championships.

"It's a very good facility with a fast pool," Goodman James said. "Our goals are to swim some season-best times, get two or three NCAA qualifying times and up to three zone qualifying scores in diving."

BASKETBALL OPENS OFFICIALLY
The Lady Razorbacks basketball team, 16-12 last season under first-year coach Susie Gardner, is set to open against Alabama State at 7 p.m. Friday in Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas went 0-2 in exhibition play, losing 80-77 to Everyone's Internet and 62-57 against Athletes in Action.

Sarah Pfeifer, a 6-foot sophomore forward, sat out the latter contest with knee and shoulder hurts, while 6-3 center Ruby Vaden played just eight minutes. Vaden, coming off minor knee surgery, played four minutes in the first exhibition.

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