All-Mountain West Conference Volleyball Team Named, BYU's Puikkonen Named Player of the Year

Nina Puikkonen named Player of the Year in the MWC

Colorado Springs, Colo. - Sophomore middle blocker Nina Puikkonen headlines the first-ever All-Mountain West Conference Volleyball Team as the unanimous choice by the coaches for player-of-the-year honors. Puikkonen ranks fourth in the nation and led BYU with a 1.95 blocks per game average and topped the conference with a 1.90 average in league matches. Her 378 total kills led the Cougars while her conference average of 4.07 kills in league matches listed her among the top-three in the conference the entire season. She hit an impressive .370 in league matches and finished the regular-season hitting .355 overall. BYU claimed the Mountain West Conference regular-season title with a 13-1 league record and is hosting the conference championship this week. The Cougars are currently ranked No. 9 in the USA Today/AVCA Division I Coaches Poll and own an overall mark of 24-3.

The coaches selected Colorado State's Tom Hilbert as Coach of the Year. Hilbert led the Rams to a 12-2 league record, a 25-2 overall slate and a current No. 12 national ranking. BYU's Sunny Tonga garnered freshman-of-the-year accolades.

Joining Puikkonen on the first team is Cougar teammate senior outside hitter Caroline Bower, while senior Anna-Lena Smith is the first-team setter-of-the-year. Colorado State senior outside hitter Catie Vagneur and sophomore middle blocker Angela Knopf also earned first-team recognition, while senior Kristen Vance was selected the first-team defensive specialist of the year. Utah sophomore McKelle Stilson and Wyoming junior Melody Friehauf, both middle blockers, complete the first-team selections.

Utah's senior setter Graciela Torres-Lopez and sophomore outside hitter Alisa Geddes are second-team picks, while junior Brooke Barton is the second team defensive specialist of the year. Colorado State sophomore setter Allison Peckham was chosen the second-team setter of the year and was joined on the second team by sophomore outside hitter Courtney Cox, giving CSU five total picks. BYU senior outside hitter Mari Carpenter brings the Cougars' total all-conference selections to five with her second-team selection. Air Force senior middle blocker Summer Koons and UNLV senior outside hitter Angie Sylvas complete the second-team selections.

Following is the complete list of the All-Mountain West Conference Volleyball Teams.

First Team All-Conference:

Caroline Bower, BYU

Melody Friehauf, Wyoming

Angela Knopf, CSU

Nina Puikkonen, BYU

McKelle Stilson, Utah

Catie Vagneur, CSU

Setter - Anna-Lena Smith, BYU

Defensive Specialist - Kristen Vance, CSU

Second Team All-Conference:

Mari Carpenter, BYU

Courtney Cox, CSU

Alisa Geddes, Utah

Summer Koons, AFA

Angie Sylvas, UNLV

Graciela Torres-Lopez, Utah

Setter - Allison Peckham, CSU

Defensive Specialist - Brooke Barton, Utah

Coach of the Year:

Tom Hilbert, CSU

Player of the Year:

Nina Puikkonen, BYU

Freshman of the Year:

Sunny Tonga, BYU