The Cougars won the Mountain West Conference Tournament and were ranked as high as No. 10 in 2000 while advancing to the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the fifth straight season, finishing 26-7.
The tournament appearance was BYU's 11th straight and its 19th in the 20 years of the NCAA tournament. With its ninth-place tie in the tournament, BYU recorded its 20th overall top-10 national finish in the 32 years the Cougars have competed at the national level.
All seven Cougar losses in 2000 were to teams ranked in the top 20 during the season. BYU played 14 matches against teams who were ranked at the time of the match and the Cougars earned a 9-5 record in those matches. BYU earned its No. 10 rating after knocking off No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Long Beach State on back-to-back nights during the BYU Mizuno Classic. The Cougars also defeated Colorado State twice when the Rams were ranked No. 3 and No. 4. BYU played No. 5 Arizona but lost in the NCAA Central Regional Semifinals in Lincoln, Neb., ending BYU's season-best 13 match winning streak. BYU's other wins over ranked teams included Utah (twice), Kansas State, UC Santa Barbara and Utah State. BYU has also played two matches, both losses, against teams who were not ranked at the time but later moved into the top 25 (Notre Dame and Utah State).
The Cougars are now 25-3 in two years of Mountain West Conference play after going 12-2 in 2000 to finish second with losses at Utah and at Colorado State. The Rams won the regular season title with a 13-1 record. BYU went on to win the MWC tournament title in Fort Collins, Colo., defeating both the Utes and Rams in the process, ending the Rams' nation-best 44-match home winning streak. The Cougars defeated Wyoming in the tournament's opening match.
The 2000 season proved to be among the best in school history in several statistical categories. BYU set a school record and placed second nationally in blocking (3.81) behind NCAA Champion Nebraska and finished eighth in hitting (.278). The Cougars also had their second-best kills average (16.61) and third-best assists average (14.75) in school history. BYU earned a No. 13 final ranking in the AVCA USA Today Coaches Poll after completing its 27th straight 20-win season.
Individually, the Cougars were well represented when it came to conference and national honors. Junior middle blocker Nina Puikkonen was named to both the Volleyball Magazine and AVCA All-America First Teams and earned AVCA Sports Imports National Player of the Week honors twice (Sept. 11 and Nov. 20) during the season. She was the only player to earn the award more than once last season. Four BYU players earned All-MWC honors, including Puikkonen and fellow junior middle Jackie Bundy along with sophomore rightside hitter Sunny Tonga and freshman setter Karina Puikkonen. Nina Puikkonen, a two-time All-MWC selection and three-time all-conference player (All-WAC as a freshman), also earned four MWC Player of the Week awards (Sept. 11, Oct. 16, Nov. 6, Nov. 20) while Tonga earned one MWC Player of the Week award (Oct. 30).
Nina Puikkonen finished second nationally in blocking (1.88) and 25th in hitting (.357) while Bundy placed 12th in the nation in blocking (1.58). Puikkonen moved up the career charts with 467 kills (4.13 kpg) in 2000 to bring her career total to 1,279 in her three years. She needs 31 more kills to move past Marinda G. Ashman (1310 kills from 1987-90) into sixth place on BYU's all-time list. Dylann Duncan (1985-88) tops the list at 2,188 career kills. Puikkonen totaled 213 blocks last year, moving from fifth into third on the all-time BYU blocks list with 648 career blocks. She is on pace to have a shot at Duncan's BYU-best 888 career blocks.
Coach Elaine Michaelis, second all-time in Division I victories, achieved her 850th career win with a 3-0 win over San Diego State on Sept. 23. Michaelis finished the season with an 867-216-5 overall record in 32 seasons since BYU began competing at the national level in 1969. She has won an amazing 80 percent of her matches and is the all-time leader in women's volleyball victories among female coaches.
The Cougars had only one senior on its 2000 roster. Senior outside hitter Melissa Layton had a strong final season with 15 double-digit kill matches, including six of the last eight. She recorded a team-high nine kills in the NCAA Central Regional Semifinals against Arizona. She had 15 or more kills four times, including a career-high 19 kills at Pepperdine, and had five double-digit dig matches and had two double-doubles. She led BYU in aces (42) and was fourth in digs (202) while averaging 2.72 kills and 1.89 digs per game and a .243 hitting percentage. She was second in the MWC in aces (0.39).
The Cougars finished the season with 11 consecutive home wins, including NCAA wins over Hofstra and Utah State.