PROVO -- After a win Tuesday at Weber State, the 10th-ranked BYU women's volleyball team prepares to host UNLV and San Diego State in the Smith Fieldhouse during homecoming weekend. The Cougars play the Rebels Friday at 7 p.m. and the Aztecs Saturday in a 3 p.m. afternoon contest. Friday's match will be aired live on KBYU-TV Channel 11 with Brandon Fullmer and former BYU All-American and U.S. National Team player Amy Gant calling the action.
A Quick Look at the Cougars
Ranked 10th in the nation, BYU returns to the friendly confines of the Smith Fieldhouse this weekend after playing 10 of its first 12 matches on the road. The Cougars are coming off wins at Air Force, New Mexico last week and at Weber State on Tuesday. The Cougars top the Mountain West Conference in five statistical categories, averaging 16.84 kills, 15.02 assists, 3.55 blocks and 2.00 service aces while boasting a .293 attack percentage.
Quote from Coach Elaine Michaelis
"We have been on the road for most of the year so we are looking forward to playing at home in front of our fans. UNLV is one of the strongest team's in the conference. San Diego State is a program with great tradition. We have had some great matches with the Aztecs over the years."
Notables from Win at Weber State
Five players had double figures in kills (Mari Carpenter 20, Nina Puikkonen 15, Caroline Bower 15, Jackie Bundy 11 and Melissa Layton 11) to lead BYU to a 3-1 win over Weber State. BYU hit .335 as a team. The Wildcats hit .191.
Series with UNLV
The Cougars have yet to drop a game and hold a 4-0 advantage They met once in 1984, twice in 1997 and once last year at the WAC Tournament.
Last Year vs. the Rebels
November 27 Â• MGM Grand Garden Arena Â• Las Vegas (2,363) Â• WAC Tournament
LAS VEGAS -- Two-time defending WAC champion BYU swept UNLV, 15-12, 15-10, 15-6, to advance to the championship match. UNLV's only leads of the match were 1-0 and 2-1 in the third game, but BYU put together 8-straight points without a sideout to propel them to the 15-6 match-deciding score. The second and first games were almost identical with the Cougars jetting out to early leads only to see them evaporate. ( BYU record: 28-2, 13-1)
Scouting the Rebels
The Rebels are 8-4 overall and 0-1 in MWC play after a five-game loss to San Diego State last week. The Rebels won their first seven matches (school record) but have lost four of five since. UNLV (third in MWC in hitting .225) is led by MB Amber Graham (.308 hitting; 2.45 kpg) and OH Angie Sylvas (3.80 kpg).
Series with San Diego State
BYU has a 19-13 record against the Aztecs dating back to 1977. The Cougars have a five-match winning streak since losing 2-3 in San Diego in 1996. BYU is 9-4 at home. SDSU's last win in Provo was a 1990 NCAA Tournament matchup.
Last Year vs. the Aztecs
October 9 Â• Smith Fieldhouse Â• Provo, Utah (873)
PROVO -- Korie Rogers led fifth-ranked BYU to a 15-5, 15-7, 15-0 win over San Diego State with 10 kills, six digs, and three blocks. San Diego State jumped out to a three-point lead in the first game, but BYU's blocking and defense proved too tough as the Aztecs scored only nine more points in the match. Melissa Layton contributed 10 kills, hitting .563, while the nation's leading blocker Nina Puikonnen contributed six blocks for the match. (BYU record: 13-1, 2-0)
November 7 Â• Peterson Gym Â• San Diego, Calif. (167)
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Putting its tough loss to Hawai`i behind it, BYU defeated San Diego State 15-1, 15-9, 15-2 in the second of two meeting on the year. Setter Anna-Lena Smith had 48 assists and the Cougar offense was strong throughout the ranks, with four players putting down 10 kills or more. Helen Hjorth had 12, Nina Puikkonen 11, Korie Rogers 10 and Mari Carpenter 11. Carpenter led the team in hitting efficiency with a .611 percentage. (BYU record: 22-2, 9-1)
Scouting the Aztecs
Heading into Friday's match with Utah, the Aztecs are 7-7 overall and 1-0 in the MWC, losing last week to No. 12 Pepperdine and edging UNLV. The Aztecs are led by outside hitters Jamie Evans (2.78 kpg) and Amy Hallquist (2.67 kpg) who have five and four double-doubles, respectively. Evans had 12 kills and 11 digs while Hallquist recorded 11 kills and 12 digs in SDSU's win over UNLV.
Smith's Record-"Setting" Pace
All-American senior setter Anna-Lena Smith leads the conference in assist and is 14th nationally with a 13.55 assists per game average. After adding 66 assists Tuesday at Weber State, She needs just 191 more assists to surpass current U.S. National Team setter Charlene Johnson Tagaloa atop BYU's all-time list.
Puikkonen is Strong Middle Presence
Nina Puikkonen continued her solid play last week with 23 kills (3.83 kpg), and 15 blocks (2.50 bpg). She also added 10 digs (1.67 dpg) and two service aces. In the past five years, no one has averaged more blocks per game than Nina Puikkonen did last year (2.17 bpg). A Volleyball magazine Freshman All-American last year, this year she was named to the Georgia Invitational All-Tournament Team and the Loyola Marymount Invitational. She leads the team and conference in kills (4.24) and blocks (1.63) and is fifth in hitting (.341). She is currently 14th in national blocking statistics.
Carpenter on the Attack
Senior outside hitter Mari Carpenter maintained her strong attack percentage, hitting .414 last week (15-3-29) while averaging 3 kills per game. She is ranked fourth in the nation with a season hitting percentage of .415. She has been named to the All-Tournament Team at the Loyola Marymount Invitational (hitting .531 for the week and unleashed 5 kills per game) and the Georgia Outback Invitational (hitting.429 and averaging 3.20 kills per game).
Bower Providing Senior Leadership
Senior Caroline Bower led the Cougars last week with team highs in kills (23 - shared with Puikkonen), digs (18) and service aces (4). She also had the second most blocks with nine (1.50 bpg). She continued her strong play Tuesday with 15 kills and 17 digs against Weber State. Against Cal, she hit .600 (12-0-20) while leading the team in kills (12) and digs (15). She added nine kills and a team-high 10 digs against No. 7 Stanford. year.
Soft-Spoken Michaelis Wields Winning Stick
In the world of collegiate women's volleyball, few if any coaches command more respect than Cougar head coach Elaine Michaelis. Now beginning her 38th year at the helm of the BYU program, Elaine Michaelis also enters her fifth year as Director of Women's Athletics. A proven winner, Michaelis is second all-time in Division I victories with an 822-206-5 record (since records were first kept at BYU beginning in 1969) and has the most wins ever by a female coach. She enters her first season in the new Mountain West Conference with a 323-30 conference record in four previous leagues and the distinction of winning the inaugural championship of each league. Last year, Michaelis coached in her 1000th recorded match and reached the milestone of 800 victories while coaching the Cougars to their third straight NCAA Regional Final. Michaelis, whose 31-4 record last year marked the eighth time she has recorded more than 30 victories in a season, has had 25 straight 20-win seasons.
A Glimpse at Last Week
After a struggling to get into their offense at times against Air Force in a 3-0 win, the Cougars rebounded against New Mexico to play what coach Elaine Michaelis called their best match of the year, downing the Lobos in three games while hitting .404. The Cougars limited return errors to four against the Lobos and out blocked New Mexico 15-3. BYU had an outstanding week at the net, out blocking its opponents 28-4. The Cougars had 13 team blocks to the Falcons' one Friday and totalled 15 blocks Saturday to the Lobos' three. Puikkonen had match highs of 12 kills and seven blocks against Air Force in the Cougars' inaugural Mountain West Conference match. Bower and Carpenter each put down eight kills in the 16-14, 15-6, 15-5 win. After starting slow while only hitting .080 in a tough first-game win, BYU recovered to hit .286 in the second game to take any momentum away from the Falcons. Smith had 31 assists. BYU defeated New Mexico, 15-8, 15-1, 15-8. Bower led the attack, knocking down 15 kills while hitting .542. Puikkonen added 11 kills and eight blocks while Smith tossed up 42 assists and had a match-high 10 digs.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.
A Glimpse Back at the 1998 Season
As a team, BYU was second in the nation in blocking (3.77 bpg), sixth in hitting (.291) and 19th in assists (15.20 apg). The Cougars were also 19th in home attendance with 16 regular season matches averaging 1,135 Cougar faithful at the Smith Fieldhouse. Nina Puikkonen was the nation's top blocker (2.17 bpg). Puikkonen (Volleyball magazine Freshman), Korie Rogers and Anna-Lena Smith (both AVCA Second Team) earned All-America, District VII, and first-team All-WAC honors. The 31-4 record was the team's best since 1987. The Cougars four losses were to eventual national champion Long Beach State (1-3), NCAA runner-up Penn State (0-3) and No. 5 Hawaii, who edged the Cougars in two of their three matches, both times in five-game marathon contests.
Cougar Fans Among the Best
Entering its second homestand of the season, BYU is ranked third nationally in average home attendance. The Cougars are averaging 2,452 fans per contest after setting a new Smith Fieldhouse women's volleyball attendance mark of 3,553 in their 3-2 win over No. 11 Pepperdine.
National Attendance Top Five
School Avg. Total Matches
1. Hawaii 7,194 86,325 12
2. Nebraska 3,364 30,276 9
3. BYU 2,452 4,905 2
4. Penn State 2,437 26,810 11
5. Florida 2,190 15,328 7
Cougars in Conference Stats
Blocks: 1st -- 3.55
Hitting: 1st -- .293
Kills: 1st -- 16.84
Assists: 1st -- 15.02
Aces: 1st -- 2.00
Digs: 5th -- 13.55
Blocks: Nina Puikkonen, 1st -- 1.63
Jackie Bundy, 2nd -- 1.47
Hitting: Mari Carpenter, 1st -- .415
Nina Puikkonen, 4th -- .341
Caroline Bower, 10th -- .259
Kills: Nina Puikkonen, 1st -- 4.24
Mari Carpenter, 8th -- 3.67
Assists: Anna-Lena Smith, 1st -- 13.55
Aces: Melissa Layton, 2nd -- 0.43
Digs: Caroline Bower, 6th -- 2.84
Cougars in National Stats
Hitting: 5th -- .293
Blocks: 4th -- 3.55
Kills: 20th -- 16.84
Hitting: Mari Carpenter, 4th -- .415
Blocks: Nina Puikkonen, 14th -- 1.63
Assists: Anna-Lena Smith, 14th -- 1355
1999 Cougar Honors
Georgia Outback Invitational All-Tournament Selections