Senior Setter Lauren Richards Evans recorded a double-double in the Cougars' season-opener last weekend and will look to lead BYU to victory at home this week. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah, (Aug. 31, 2005) -- The Cougars will be making their home debut this weekend and witnessing history as the Smith Fieldhouse court is renamed to honor former BYU head coach and administrator Elaine Michaelis. The Cougars will take the Smith Fieldhouse court Thursday night against Montana State in the first match of the BYU/UVSC Invitational and then step onto the newly-dubbed Elaine Michaelis Court Friday night against Kansas after a 6:45 p.m. naming ceremony.
"Playing at home offers a different set of challenges, but our team is maturing within our systems," said BYU Head Coach Jason Watson. "This is also special weekend for our volleyball program as BYU will honor Coach Michaelis by naming the court in the Smith Fieldhouse the Elaine Michaelis Court. I can think of no better way to acknowledge her influence on volleyball at BYU and around the country. Every day, everyone associated with our program will be reminded of her legacy and the responsibility we have to continue the tradition of excellence set forth by Coach Michaelis."
A legend in women's volleyball, Michaelis retired from coaching in May 2002 ranked second all-time in Division I victories and as the overall leader among female coaches in collegiate volleyball at any level with 886 wins. Michaelis guided the BYU women's volleyball program from 1961-2002 and also served as BYU's director of women's intercollegiate athletics from 1995-2004.
"What Elaine accomplished during her career is almost unparalleled," said BYU Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe. "She built BYU into one of the elite volleyball programs in the nation while tutoring and mentoring many student-athletes and coaches during her 40 years as a coach. She is such a great person and is truly a coaching legend. With the naming of Elaine Michaelis Court, we can be inspired with a continual reminder of Elaine's great legacy."
While compiling an overall record of 886-225-5 (.792), Michaelis never suffered a losing season and finished her career with an amazing string of 28 consecutive 20-win seasons. Her teams qualified for 30 of the 33 national tournaments, including 20 of 21 NCAA tournaments. Michaelis achieved a national tournament record of 73-44 (.624), with her 1972-73 team finishing as the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national runner-up while her 1993 squad became the first BYU team to qualify for an NCAA Final Four. Only four Division I programs played in more NCAA tournaments than BYU during Michaelis' career.
Against conference competition, Michaelis' teams were dominating, earning an incredible 356-37 (.906) record. She holds the distinction of winning the inaugural championship in each of the five leagues in which the Cougars were volleyball members, including the inaugural Mountain West Conference title in 1999 with a 13-1 league record. Overall, her teams claimed 23 conference crowns.
Under Michaelis' tutelage, 18 players earned 51 All-America awards and six players were singled out for major individual national honors, with the top award going to Mariliisa Salmi in 1986 as the Collegiate Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year. Four athletes also earned seven Academic All-America awards.
While the excitement of honoring Michaelis will take center stage during the ceremony on Friday, BYU is also looking forward to taking care of business in the two home matches after winning a tight season-opener on the road at Nevada last weekend. The Bobcats are 2-1 in 2005 including a win over MWC-rival Wyoming while the Jayhawks are 2-0 to start the year.
"Both Montana State and Kansas are coming off successful weekends and I feel each match is important to our post-season aspirations," said Watson. "Each team is athletic, experienced and competitive. This will be another challenging weekend for our team."