Razorback Nation, Arkansas Volleyball Interview 8-18

  Arkansas Volleyball was picked seventh in the SEC preseason polls.

  Robert Pulliza stopped by the Razorback Nation studios to talk about the upcoming season for Razorback Volleyball.

  Chris Frye:  "Seven seasons man.  That seems like a long time in this industry really for you guys.  Thoughts going into the seventh season for your team."

Robert Pulliza-Arkansas Head Coach(7th season):  "First of all, grateful to be here in Fayetteville.  It's been a great stay. We've built something special.  And I think we have a special team, uhm.. coming back."

Chris Frye:  "Back-to-Back NCAA tournament appearances.  Obviously, a lot of pressure. Or is there a lot of pressure coming back on your team?"

Robert Pulliza-Arkansas Head Coach(7th season):  "There's always pressure at this level.   You know, the expectations is to win and to advance in the NCAA Tournament and compete for SEC Championships.   So anytime you have those aspirations, there's going to pressure. And um.. the exciting thing for us is that we're in place that we can really embrace those type of goals and those type of challenges.  So, they'll be pressure, but our kids are excited to take on those goals and we're going at it."

Chris Frye:  "Do you feel like in your seventh season you're starting to hit your stride?  Obviously, you're getting your players now, but are you starting to hit your stride as far as bringing consistency within the program?"

Robert Pulliza-Arkansas Head Coach(7th season):  "This is uh... Our freshmen here is the third recruiting class in a row that ha been ranked in the country.  We'll have on the roster, eight, top 100 recruits.  We have one all-american on that roster, so, we're starting to get the student-athletes that understand what we're trying to do here and that's compete for championships."

Chris Frye:  "Yeah, you've got a high-honorable mention recruiting class coming in, but you also have 11 players from last year's class returning. So obviously, that's always a big boost when you get some veteran leadership returning."

Robert Pulliza-Arkansas Head Coach(7th season):  "Yeah we do.  We have some players that do understand what our systems are and what our culture is.  When you bring in nine new people,  it's really important that you have people here that understand our culture and what we have built.  So they can immediately start implementing, behind the scenes, what we're all about."

Chris Frye:  "We all know about the SEC.  I don't care if you are in football or volleyball, the competition is high.  And you've got some competition coming, coming here to Fayetteville this year.  Just talk about your schedule, starting with the opener on August 29th."

Robert Pulliza-Arkansas Head Coach(7th season):  "In terms of scheduling and strenght of schedule, the SEC had eight teams in the NCAA Tournament last year. So every game, is an NCAA Tournament game when your in the SEC conference.  That's why those players come here.  They want to play on the highest level, day in, day out.  We start on August 29 in our home tournament.  We'll start with Tennessee State on that Friday at seven o'clock.  And then on Saturday, we've got Stephen F. Austin and then we've got Michigan coming into town.  Michigan, we took them to five sets at their place two years ago.  And they went to the Final Four that  year.  So we're hoping to return the favor to them here and be the one's making a run this year."

Chris Frye:  "And it's always important playing those non-conference teams.  It's hard enough playing your in conference teams, but when you've got a team like Michigan coming off a Final Four appearance, that always adds a little more sizzle to your schedule."

Robert Pulliza-Arkansas Head Coach(7th season):  "You need to do it from an RPI standpoint.  At the end of the year, you want that committee to able to say, 'Hey, these guys are worthy to be in, if you're an at-large team.'  If you don't got the automatic.  Last year, we had the ninth, toughest schedule in the country.  And this year, we're probably not too far behind.  But for our players, it's exciting..playing the best and putting ourselves in those situations to have to find our best day in, day out.  So we're excited about the schedule we have at hand this year."

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