BYU Set to Finish First Wave of MWC Action

MWC Player of the Week Lindsy Hartsock looks to lead the Cougars to victory over Wyoming and No. 7 Colorado State. Hartsock if the top blocker in the nation and is ranked third in hitting percentage. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- The Cougars head out on the road this weekend to face off against two Mountain West Conference rivals, Wyoming and No. 7 Colorado State. At 10-6 overall and 4-1 in the MWC, BYU will look to make a statement in what promises to be two tough match-ups to round out the first Mountain West Conference go-around.

"Both teams are solid squads and will be ready to play," said BYU head coach Karen Lamb. "Our plan is to get better every night we go out to play; the wins will take care of themselves."

Heading into the upcoming battle with the No. 7 team in the nation, the Cougars have a lot to smile about. BYU heads into this week's competition riding a five-match winning streak, including four straight sweeps. The Cougars are also ranked eighth in the nation in blocks per game (3.30) and 18th in hitting percentage (.283).

The Cougars are listed in the top three spots in the MWC in six of seven statistical categories, including leading the league in blocks per game. The Cougars also boast the league's individual leaders in three categories as Lindsy Hartsock holds the top spot in both hitting percentage (.446) and blocks per game (1.81) and Lauren Richards leads the pack in aces per game (.061). A total of four Cougars rank in the top ten in hitting efficiency.

BYU heads into this week's tests riding a five-match winning streak. The Cougars went 3-0 at home last week as they swept Weber State for the 53rd straight time and then recorded wins over MWC rivals San Diego State, BYU's fourth straight sweep, and UNLV to gain an outright hold on the third place spot in Conference.

Hartsock starred for the Cougars in all three matches as she hit over .600 all three nights, including a season-high .769 hitting percentage against Weber State and a career-high 16 kills against UNLV. With a total of 18 blocks for the week, Hartsock solidified her position as the No. 1 blocker and moved to No. 3 in the nation in hitting percentage. She also earned MWC Player of the Week recognition for her efforts.

"We're in a very good situation to go on the road and do well," Lamb said. "We've gained a lot of confidence as we've worked together through hard times this season. Our goal is still to win the Conference."

Both matches for the week are set to begin at 7 p.m. Fans of the Cougars can follow this week's action against Colorado State via live audio. The link can be found by going to the schedule page of the BYU Women's Volleyball home page at http://www.byucougars.com/volleyball_w/.

Here's an in-depth look at BYU's upcoming opponents:

WYOMING

The Wyoming Cowgirls come into the weekend at 9-8 overall and 2-3 in the Mountain West Conference, good enough for fourth place, just behind the Cougars.

The Cowgirls are led by senior Sara Maytorena, who is currently second in the MWC in kills per game (3.85), while freshman Rachael Booth is fourth in the league with 3.92 digs per game. As a team, Wyoming is third in the conference with 13.52 digs per game in MWC matches.

BYU owns a 54-3 lead over Wyoming and has not lost to the Cowgirls since 1989.

COLORADO STATE

At 13-1 overall and 5-0 in the MWC, the No. 7 Rams are clearly the team to beat this season.

With its sweep over Wyoming last weekend, Colorado State extended its regular season conference winning streak to 23 straight matches including the last two match-ups with the Cougars. However, BYU has the distinction of being the last MWC team to defeat the Rams, winning a five-game decision in the 2002 MWC Tournament Semifinal match.

The Rams are currently hitting .369 in conference play, which is on pace to finish second all-time in the MWC record books. Senior middle blocker Bri Frech had a season-high and team season-best six aces vs. Wyoming. Seniors Katie Jo Shirley-Cahoon and Becky Sarauer, and junior Tess Rogers are all within range of 1,000 career kills. Cahoon recorded her 900th career kill against Wyoming and currently sits at 903, while Sarauer has 977 and Rogers sits at 952.

The Cougars hold a 44-15-1 series advantage over the Rams.

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