PROVO -- After opening the conference tournament with a 3-0 win over Wyoming Wednesday, BYU advances to the semifinal round to face No. 5-seed New Mexico Friday at 7 p.m. The match will be televised live on KBYU, channel 11. The Lobos advanced to the semi-final after upsetting No. 4-seed Air Force, 3-2 in the opening round. Utah and Colorado State start play Friday in the other semifinal at 4:30 p.m. The winners will play Saturday at 4 p.m. in the championship match, which will be televised on KBYU.
A Quick Look at the Cougars
BYU has won 11 straight matches and 19 of its last 20. The Cougars won 39 of their 43 games during the Mountain West Conference regular season on the way to a 13-1 record and regular season title. With BYU's third 3-0 win over Wyoming Wednesday, the Cougars have won 18 of their 25 matches in three games. All three losses this year have also been in three games (Michigan, Stanford, Colorado State). The Cougars are 4-0 in four-game matches and 3-0 in five-game contests. After last weekend's 3-1 win over Colorado State to finish the regulars season, BYU moved up one spot in the USA Today/AVCA Division I Coaches Poll to No. 9. With its win Wednesday, BYU has reached the 25-win plateau for the fourth straight year and the ninth time in the last 10 years (1995- 21-9 record). BYU has never had a losing season and has won 20 or more matches in each of the last 26 seasons (1973-74 - 18-3 record).
BYU Defeats Wyoming 3-0
It took just over 55 minutes for BYU to handle No. 8-seed Wyoming Wednesday in its Mountain West Conference Tournament opener. MWC Player of the Year Nina Puikkonen led all hitters with a .669 attack percentage ash she put away 12 kills in 18 attempts without an error. Jackie Bundy drilled 13 kills with only two errors in 17 attempts to hit .667. Also in double figures was first-team all-conference selection Caroline Bower, who had 11 kills while hitting .308. Wyoming was led by freshman Michele Keller's .267 attack percentage and six kills. Wyoming's first-team all-conference player, Melody Friehauf was held to three kills in 14 attempts.
A Quick Look at the Lobos
New Mexico enters the match with an 11-21 overall record, including a 5-9 conference mark and No. 5 seed in the tournament. The Lobos upset No. 4 Air Force in its opening match Wednesday, 15-13, 15-1, 9-15, 13-15, 15-6. The Lobos are led by led by Amber Smith, who averages 3.53 kills and 2.38 digs per game.
Series with UNM
This will be BYU's 53nd meeting with New Mexico. The Cougars have a 45-7 series record with the Lobos, dating back to 1970. BYU has a nine-match winning streak, with the Lobos last victory taking place in Provo, 3-0, in 1995. BYU won both meetings this year by 3-0 counts.
This Year vs. the Lobos
PROVO -- Behind the strong jump serving of junior Melissa Layton the 11th-ranked BYU women's volleyball team defeated New Mexico 15-2, 15-6, 15-12 at the Smith Fieldhouse. Layton, a middle blocker, set a career-high with six service aces. She tied her previous best of four in the first game. Layton was one of 11 Cougars that saw action against the Lobos. The Cougars finished the night hitting .364 as a team, including a game two that saw the Cougars hit .692. Sophomore middle blocker Nina Puikkonen led the Cougars with 14 kills and a .550 hitting percentage. Sophomore Jackie Bundy added 10 kills while All-American setter Anna-Lena Smith finished with 29 assists in just two games.
ALBUQUERQUE -- Playing what coach Elaine Michaelis called her team's best effort of the year, BYU's 11th-ranked women's volleyball team defeated New Mexico, 15-8, 15-1, 15-8, o improve to 9-2 overall and 2-0 in Mountain West Conference play. Senior Caroline Bower led the attack for the Cougars, knocking down 15 kills while hitting .542. She also was a key defensive force with eight digs and five blocks. Sophomore Nina Puikkonen added 11 kills and eight blocks while All-American setter Anna-Lena Smith tossed up 42 assists and had a match-high 10 digs. New Mexico, which fell to 5-13 overall and 0-2 in the Mountain West, was held to a .073 attack percentage as the Cougars dominated at the net with 15 team blocks to the Lobos three. The Cougars hit .404 for the match, including .571 in the second game when they only made one error. Freshman Sunny Tonga took advantage of her opportunities, recording six kills in seven attempts in one game of action.