BYU Hosts Wyoming and No. 3 Colorado State Friday and Saturday

Cougars Plan Fun Festivities for Saturday's "Halloween Party" Match

PROVO -- After going 2-1 on the road last week, the 16th-ranked Cougars return home to host Wyoming Friday and No. 3 Colorado State Saturday in Mountain West Conference volleyball play. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.

BYU, 15-6 overall and 7-2 in Mountain West Conference matches, defeated Wyoming (8-16, 1-7 MWC) in their previous meeting this year in Laramie but the Cougars were swept by the third-ranked Rams (22-1, 8-0 MWC) in Fort Collins. BYU is currently in a second-place tie with Utah in the Mountain West standings.

BYU MATCHES THIS WEEK

Friday, Oct. 27

No. 16 BYU (15-6) vs. Wyoming (8-16)

George Albert Smith Fieldhouse (5,000)• Provo, Utah • 7 p.m. MDT

Broadcast Live -- KBYU-TV, channel 11, and BYU-TV, available Dish Network, 500

Saturday, Oct. 28

BYU vs. No. 3 Colorado State (22-1)

George Albert Smith Fieldhouse (5,000)• Provo, Utah • 7 p.m. MDT

Match Marketing

Fans of BYU volleyball or others who want to give it a try will be able to take advantage of some special marketing promotions for this weekend's matches.

• Friday and Saturday -- Fans get in free by bringing in a ticket stub from Thursday's BYU-Wyoming football game.

• Saturday -- Halloween Party.

-- Anyone wearing a costume gets in for $1.

-- Free popcorn

-- Raffle and contests to win: BMX bike, tickets to Utah vs. BYU football game, tickets to the corn maze, Gold's Gym memberships, Hogi Yogi coupons. Prizes for the best costume, bobbing for apples, etc.

-- "Trick or Treat" after the match -- players will be giving away candy.

-- Date night (date gets in free).

-- Corporate night (group in for $2 each and receive a free PA during the match. Call Trina Jonas at 378-3720).

Series Notes

• BYU is 45-3 all-time against Wyoming, dating back to 1972. BYU has a 20-match winning streak going against Wyoming, including a 3-0 win last year and three victories last year. BYU has won the last seven matches without losing a game. Overall, BYU is 20-2 in Laramie, 23-1 at home and 5-0 on a neutral court versus Wyoming. BYU's last loss to Wyoming was a 3-1 defeat in Laramie on Nov. 17, 1989. BYU's lone home loss was at the 1984 BYU Invitational (3-0).

• BYU holds a 40-10-1 overall advantage in the series with Colorado State, dating back to 1974. The Rams won the previous meeting this year (3-0) and two of three last year, winning in Fort Collins (3-0) during the regular season and defeating the Cougars in Provo (3-0) for the Mountain West Conference Tournament title. BYU won in between the two defeats in Provo (3-1). The Rams have won four of the last five including a 1997 CSU win in Fort Collins that ended BYU's 18-match winning streak against the Rams dating back to 1988. BYU has lost the last three matches in Fort Collins. Overall, BYU is 14-7 in Fort Collins, 21-3 in Provo and 5-0-1 against CSU on a neutral court.

Scouting Wyoming

The Cowgirls enter the week with an 8-16 overall record and 1-7 conference mark, with a match Tuesday vs. Denver. The Cowgirls will then face two top-20 teams this week in BYU and Utah (Saturday). Wyoming is 3-5 on the road this year. The Cowgirls wins include common BYU opponents Weber State (3-1) and Air Force (3-0). The Cowgirls hit .177 as a team and are led by outside hitter Jamie Burke (3.24 kills per game) and middle blocker Melody Friehauf (2.77 kills, .289 attack percentage). Wyoming is coached by Susan Judge (103-111 overall in seven years, including a 66-79 record in five years at Wyoming).

Scouting Colorado State • Ranked No. 3 AVCA/USA Today

Colorado State is 22-1 overall and in first place at 8-0 in Mountain West Conference play. The Rams are a veteran team with good balance. They return five starters and eight letterwinners from last year's NCAA regional semifinal team. Middle blockers Angela Knopf and Summer Jennings and setter Allison Peckham were all named to the Golden Dome Invitational All-Tournament earlier this year with Knopf earning MVP honors. Katherine Pettit earned tournament defensive specialist honors as well. Junior outside hitter Courtney Cox joins Knopf and Peckham as MWC Player of the Week winners this year. The Rams have wins over seven ranked teams, including UCSB, Florida and UCLA. The Bruins were ranked No. 1 at the time. CSU is tough at home, having won 40 straight in Moby Arena, including 31 matches by 3-0 counts. CSU is 6-1 on the road this year with the lone loss to top-ranked Nebraska (3-1). CSU is hitting a league-best .323 attack percentage while averaging 16.63 kills per game. CSU faces No. 20 Utah Friday in Salt Lake City before the match with BYU Saturday. The Rams are coached by Tom Hilbert (277-90 overall in 12 years, including a 103-18 record in four years at CSU).

Cougar Profile

Coach Elaine Michaelis and her Cougar team look to extend a string of 26 consecutive 20-win seasons this year with two All-Americans returning among eight letterwinners and three starters from last year's 28-5 squad. The Cougars expect to still challenge for the Mountain West Conference title and make another run in the NCAA tournament. Hitting and blocking will again be BYU's strength while five outstanding hitters on the court. All six starters stand at least 6-foot tall. Inexperience at the setter position is the team's biggest question mark after losing all-time assist leader Anna-Lena Smith to graduation but redshirt freshman Karina Puikkonen has stepped in nicely thus far, averaging 12.79 assists. Headlining the Cougar roster in 2000 is two-time All-American middle blocker Nina Puikkonen, who leads the nation in blocking (she led the nation as a freshman and finishing third as a sophomore). The 6-3 junior was a unanimous selection as the inaugural Mountain West Conference Player of the Year last season while leading the conference in blocks (1.85), kills (4.29) and hitting (.373). Along with the Puikkonen sisters, BYU returns sophomore Sunny Tonga, the Volleyball magazine Freshman All-American and MWC Freshman of the Year in 1999, with her sister Kalani Tonga, and Melissa Layton and Jackie Bundy.

Coach Michaelis Profile

Now in her 39th year at the helm of the BYU program, Elaine Michaelis also enters her sixth year as Director of Women's Athletics. A proven winner, Michaelis is second all-time in Division I victories with an 856-215-5 record (since records were kept in 1969) and has the most wins ever by a female coach. With last year's Mountain West Conference regular season title, she has the distinction of winning the inaugural championship in each of the five leagues in which BYU has been a volleyball member. Michaelis concluded her first season in the new Mountain West Conference with a 13-1 record to improve her overall conference ledger to an incredible 334-31 -- a .915 winning percentage (now 341-33). With a 28-5 overall record in 1999, Michaelis posted her 26th consecutive 20-win season and her 28th in 31 years. She has never had a losing season. In 1999, her Cougar squad advanced to the NCAA East Regional Semifinals -- the fourth straight year she has guided BYU to the round of 16. She coached BYU to wins over No. 10 Pepperdine, No. 12 Colorado State, No. 14 Arizona, No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 29 Utah (twice) last year will suffering losses to No. 2 Stanford, No. 5 Florida, No. 12 Colorado State (twice) and NCAA tournament-qualifying Michigan. The Cougars' foray into the NCAA tournament was their 18th in the 19-year history of NCAA control of the sport. It also marked the 28th time BYU has participated in a national tournament. BYU's run to the NCAA regional semifinals improved Michaelis' national tournament record to 71-42 (.628).

Notables from Last Week

• In the two conference matches last week, BYU hit over .300 in each match. Against UNLV, the Cougars finished with a .336 hitting percentage and had a .358 hitting percentage against San Diego State.

• Before last week, the Cougars had failed to go more than 15 points in a game this season. Last week BYU played in games that went more than 15 points twice. The Cougars won Game 2 against Pepperdine, 16-14, on Wednesday and defeated San Diego State 18-16 in their second game on Friday.

• The Cougars finished the week with four players that averaged more than 3.00 kills per game (Nina Puikkonen, 4.90; Melissa Layton, 4.60; Jackie Bundy, 3.70; Sunny Tonga, 3.40) while freshman setter Karina Puikkonen led the offense with 167 assists (16.70 apg) in only ten games last week.

• BYU had to bus to Las Vegas from Los Angeles Thursday due to an air traffic control problem in Los Angeles. They were able to take their scheduled flight from Las Vegas to San Diego as the Cougars completed a three-match in three-day road trip. It was the second time this year the Cougars have played three times in three days (previous time at home).

Puikkonen On Fire Last Week

Puikkonen finished last week with 49 kills (4.90 kpg) and a .389 hitting percentage in the three matches. She also had seven service aces (0.70 sapg), 32 digs (3.20 dpg), 14 blocks (1.40 bpg) in only 10 games this week. In the two Mountain West Conference wins (against UNLV and San Diego State) she averaged 5.83 kills per game. She hit .508 combined in the two conference matches. Puikkonen had a match-high 23 kills, five blocks and career-best five aces along with nine digs in BYU's three-game win at San Diego State Friday. She also hit a team high .629 attack percentage, her second-best total of the season. Puikkonen had 12 kills, six blocks, two aces and seven digs against UNLV Thursday while hitting .333. She had 14 kills and a season-high 16 digs with three blocks at Pepperdine Wednesday.

Puikkonen Moving Up Career Charts

It took junior middle blocker Nina Puikkonen just 289 games to top 1,000 kills, averaging 3.79 kpg. The Cougar co-captain has 240 kills (4.01 kpg) this season to bring her career total to 1,101 in two-plus seasons. She needs 90 more kills to move past Michele Fellows (1190 kills from 1990-93) into 7th place on BYU's all-time list. Dylann Duncan (1985-88) tops the list at 2,188 career kills. Puikkonen has 126 blocks this year while leading the nation with a 1.75 average per game. She has moved from fifth into third on the all-time BYU blocks list with 561 career blocks. She is on pace to have a shot at Duncan's BYU-best 888 career blocks.

Michaelis Surpassed 850-Win Milestone this Season

Second all-time in division I wins, BYU coach Elaine Michaelis achieved her 850th career win with a 3-0 win over San Diego State on Sept. 23. Michaelis now has an 856-215-5 overall record in 32 seasons since records were kept. She has an amazing .796 winning percentage. She has coached at BYU for 39 seasons overall and is the all-time leader in volleyball wins among female coaches.

Karina Puikkonen Off to Solid Start

Redshirt freshman setter Karina Puikkonen is off to a solid start in her first season. She is averaged 12.79 assists per game (2nd in MWC) while hitting .337 (second on the team) with 1.30 kills per game. She also adds 1.42 digs and 0.94 blocks and has had 19 aces. She has distributed the ball well with all five BYU hitters averaging at least 2.42 kills per game.

BYU Plays Nation's Best

Last week's match at Pepperdine marked the seventh time this season the Cougars have played a team ranked in the top 20 (3-4 record, wins over Stanford, LBSU and Kansas State). BYU has also played two other teams, both losses, who were not ranked at the time but have since moved into the top 25 (Notre Dame and Utah State). BYU also defeated then No. 27 Clemson. The Cougars still face No. 14 UC Santa Barbara and can avenge losses to No. 3 Colorado State this week and No. 20 Utah next week.

Double-Double Club

Nina Puikkonen, who has earned AVCA Sports Imports National Player of the Week and twice Mountain West Conference Player of the Week honors this year, has recorded a team-leading five double-doubles this year. She last accomplished the feat with 14 kills and a season-high 16 digs vs. Pepperdine last week. Puikkonen has had double-digit kills in 18 of 21 matches this year, double-figures blocks twice and two-digit digs three times. Jackie Bundy, Karina Puikkonen and Kalani and Sunny Tonga each have two double-doubles, including Jackie's 13-kills, 13-digs effort and Karina's 66 assists and 10 digs at Pepperdine. Kalani had 10 kills and 10 digs against nationally ranked Arizona. She just missed a third double-double with 14 digs and nine kills vs. Fairfield while Sunny was one dig away against New Mexico (13 kills). Kalani has had 10 or more digs a team-leading six times this year. Melissa Layton has one double-double but has come close on other occasions (9 kills with 14 digs vs. Notre Dame and 10 digs with 9 kills vs. New Mexico).

Streaks

BYU has a two-match winning streak, both on the road. BYU has won six straight at home.The Cougars' longest win streak of the year is five matches. BYU lost back-to-back matches to end the five-match streak, the first time since 1997 that the Cougars have suffered consecutive losses.

Game Points

In its 21 matches, BYU had won 49 of 72 games. BYU has scored double-digit points in 61 of its 72 games (in 12 of 23 games lost).

BYU Suffers Rare Conference Defeat

BYU's loss at Utah was its first to the Utes since 1995 and marks the first time since 1995 that the Cougars have suffered more than one regular season conference defeat. In the last four conference seasons, BYU has finished with records of 13-1, 13-1, 13-1 and 15-1, respectively, either winning the league or claiming a share of first-place.

Cougars among Statistical Leaders

BYU is second in the nation in blocking (3.53) and 15th in hitting (.271). The Cougars are the top Mountain West Conference team in blocking (3.53 bpg), kills (16.69 kpg) and aces (1.83 sapg) and are second in hitting percentage (.271) and assists (14.88 apg). BYU is sixth in digs (12.42). Individually, Nina Puikkonen is third nationally and second in the conference in blocking (1.75 bpg). She ranks third in kills (4.01 kpg) and in hitting (.350) and is tied for fourth in aces (0.39 sapg). Karina Puikkonen is second in the MWC in assists (12.79 apg). Melissa Layton is second in the conference in aces (0.46 sapg) and Kalani Tonga rates seventh (0.38). Sunny Tonga ranks sixth in hitting (.317) and Jackie Bundy is fourth among MWC blockers (1.45 bpg) and ranks 17th nationally.

BYU Block

BYU ranks second nationally in blocking (3.53 bpg). The Cougars have traditionally had one of the nation's top blocking teams, finishing third nationally last year. All-American Nina Puikkonen is third in the nation individually with 1.75 blocks per game. Puikkonen led the nation individually as a freshman and last year was the country's third-best blocker by average. This year the Cougars out blocked their opponents in 14 matches. BYU has recorded double-digit blocks as a team in 13 of its 21 matches. BYU had a team-high 20 blocks in loss at Notre Dame and a season-low six in wins at Wyoming and vs. Air Force. Three Cougars average one or more blocks per game.

Puikkonen Named MWC Player of the Week for Second Time

Junior middle blocker Nina Puikkonen from BYU was named the Mountain West Conference Volleyball Player of the Week Oct. 16, marking the second time this season and the fourth time overall Puikkonen has earned the award. A native of Murray, Utah, Puikkonen helped the Cougars to a 2-0 record last week with victories over Air Force and New Mexico. She totaled 12 kills and five total blocks in a 15-5, 15-1, 15-1 win over Air Force, and followed with 11 kills, eight digs, three solo blocks and two block assists in a 15-6, 15-1, 15-0 win over the Lobos. For the week, Puikkonen hit .459 (26k-3e-37a) and averaged 3.83 kills per game. She has recorded 10 or more kills in 15 matches this season and currently ranks No. 8 on the BYU all-time kill list with 1,052 career kills. The NCAA leader for blocks per game the past three weeks, Puikkonen was named MWC Player of the Week and the AVCA/Sports Imports Division I National Player of the Week Sept. 11. Puikkonen was a second-team AVCA All-America selection and the MWC Player of the Year in 1999.