PROVO, Utah -- BYU women's volleyball takes its final road trip of the regular season this weekend when it visits San Diego State and UNLV. The Cougars, ranked 10th in the nation, face the Aztecs Friday before traveling to Las Vegas to play UNLV Saturday.
A Quick Look at the Cougars
Ranked 10th in the country in the AVCA/USA Today poll, BYU boasts a 19-3 record, including a Mountain West Conference best 8-1 mark. The Cougars have a five-match win streak and have won 12 of their last 13. BYU's eight conference wins have all been by 3-0 counts but its lone conference loss to No. 11 Colorado State was also in three games. As a team, BYU leads the Mountain West in two categories -- blocks per game (3.47) and hitting percentage (.296). BYU hit .331 as a team while going 4-0 last week. The Cougars played 11 players against both New Mexico and Air Force and used nine players against both Arizona and Arizona State. BYU dominated the net against Air Force, totalling 12 team blocks while holding the Falcons without a single block. BYU hit .347 while making only nine attack errors the entire match. The Cougars held the Falcons to a -.032 hitting percentage. BYU out blocked New Mexico 10-1 while hitting .364. During BYU's last conference road trip at Wyoming, senior Anna-Lena Smith set the school's all-time assist record surpassing U.S. National Team setter Charlene Johnson Tagaloa and freshman Sunny Tonga set the single match attack percentage mark, hitting .909 (10-0-11).
Quote from Coach Elaine Michaelis
"We have played a lot of matches on the road this year and this is our last away trip of the regular season. We played well in our conference matches last week at home and hope to play well this week so we can have some good momentum entering the final weeks of the conference season."
Series with the Aztecs
BYU has a 20-13 record against the Aztecs dating back to 1977. The Cougars have a six-match winning streak since losing 2-3 in San Diego in 1996. BYU is 7-6 in matches played in San Diego.
The Last Match
PROVO -- BYU defeated SDSU 15-7, 15-6, 15-11. The Nina Puikkonen led BYU with 17 kills and a .682 hitting percentage. All-American setter Anna-Lena Smith finished with 31 assists and a team-high five blocks. Sunny Tonga added 10 kills while Caroline Bower added nine and led the Cougars with nine digs. Christine Pfrezinger led the Aztecs, who hit -.019 for the match, with six kills. Lisa Bostan had nine digs.
Series with the Rebels
The Cougars have yet to drop a game and hold a 5-0 advantage. Prior to this year's BYU win in Provo, the Cougars and Rebels met once in 1984, twice in 1997 and once last year at the WAC Tournament.
The Last Match
PROVO -- Solid serving and a strong defense helped No. 10 BYU defeat UNLV 15-7, 15-7, 15-5. The Cougars held the Rebels hitting percentage to -.034. Nina Puikkonen had nine kills and eight blocks and Caroline Bower 10 digs and eight kills. Mari Carpenter also had nine kills. UNLV's Justine Kamelamela had eight kills and Alicia Erickson finishing with five blocks for the Rebels.
Smith is Record Setter
All-American senior setter Anna-Lena Smith set BYU's all-time assist record against Wyoming. The four-year starter surpassing the old mark by current U.S. National Team setter Charlene Johnson Tagaloa (5, 321). Smith also equaled a personal-best hitting percentage against Arizona , hitting .615 with eight kills.
Puikkonen Top in Kills, Blocks
Puikkonen led the Cougars to a perfect 4-0 record for the week, including road wins over Pac-10 foes Arizona State and No. 19 Arizona. She led the Cougars with 54 kills (3.60 kpg) and 20 blocks (1.33 bpg) while hitting .324 and adding 24 digs (1.60 dpg). She leads the Mountain West Conference in kills (4.21 kpg) and blocks (1.65 bpg). She is fifth nationally in blocking.
Layton Making a Move
Junior Melissa Layton played all four matches at middle blocker or outside hitter last week after playing rightside for most of the year. She tied a personal best with 13 kills against Arizona Tuesday and added 12 digs and nine blocks to come within one block of a triple-double. She set a career high with six service aces against New Mexico Friday.
Bower Continues Solid Play
Senior Caroline Bower had a team-leading fifth double-double against Arizona, recording 11 kills and matching a career-best 27 digs -- the best effort by a MWC player thus far. Bower carried the team to the 3-2 win over the No. 19 Wildcats.
Tonga Sets School Attack Percentage Record
True freshman Sunny Tonga set a MWC and BYU single-match attack percentage record against Wyoming last Saturday when successfully put down 10 kills in 11 attempts without a single error for a .909 hitting percentage. She kept the hot hand and totalling a personal-best 13 kills in 14 attempts with one error against Arizona State to record BYU's third best single-match effort of .857.
In the world of collegiate women's volleyball, few if any coaches command more respect than Cougar head coach Elaine Michaelis. Now in 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 831-207-5 record (since records were first kept at BYU beginning in 1969) and has the most wins ever by a female coach. She entered her first season in the new Mountain West Conference with a 321-30 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.
New Mountain West Conference
The Mountain West Conference enters its inaugural season in 1999. The Mountain West schools -- Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah and Wyoming -- have garnered much success over the years in women's volleyball. Five schools (BYU, CSU, New Mexico, SDSU and Wyoming) have competed in the NCAA Tournament at least twice this decade, including BYU advancing to the NCAA Regional Finals each of the last three years and the NCAA Final Four in 1993. The Cougars have won the inaugural conference championship in each of their four previous leagues and were the coaches' preseason pick to win the first MWC title. BYU hosts the MWC tournament Nov. 24-27 at the Smith Fieldhouse.
Cougars in Conference Stats
Blocks: 1st -- 3.47
Hitting: 1st -- .296
Kills: 2nd -- 16.60
Assists: 2nd -- 14.71
Aces: 5th -- 1.57
Digs: 5th -- 13.76
Nina Puikkonen, 1st -- 1.65
Jackie Bundy, 5th -- 1.28
Mari Carpenter, 1st -- .367
Nina Puikkonen, 2nd -- .362
Sunny Tonga, 4th -- .350
Nina Puikkonen, 1st -- 4.21
Mari Carpenter, 3rd -- 3.94
Anna-Lena Smith, 1st -- 13.08
Melissa Layton, 2nd-- 0.39
Caroline Bower, 10th -- 0.32
Caroline Bower, 4rd -- 3.13
Cougars in National Stats
Hitting: 8th -- .296
Blocks: 5th -- 3.47
Blocks: Nina Puikkonen, 5th -- 1.65
1999 Cougar Honors
Georgia Outback Invitational All-Tournament Selections