BYU Travels To Santa Barbara For Thanksgiving Clash
No. 12 Cougars Match Up With No. 13 UCSB Friday
A week after winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament, the No. 12 BYU women's volleyball team will travel to play its tenth nationally-ranked team when it travels to Santa Barbara to face the 13th-ranked Gauchos Friday at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. MST) in The Thunderdome. Both the Cougars and the Gauchos have identical 23-6 overall records.
BYU has played a ranked team in 14 of its 29 matches this season and is 7-6 in those matches. The Cougars have defeated teams that were No. 1 (Stanford), No. 2 (Long Beach State), No. 3 (Colorado State) and No. 4 (Colorado State) at the time the teams played this season.
UCSB is 11-1 at home with its only home loss coming against Southern California on Oct. 24. BYU is 6-5 on the road this season. However, the Cougars have won 10 matches in row, including five road matches in a row. The Cougars defeated No. 6 Colorado State last week in the championship match of the conference tournament, breaking the Rams' NCAA-best 44-match home winning streak.
Puikkonen Named National Player Of The Week
Nina Puikkonen, a 6-3 junior middle blocker at No. 12 BYU, has been chosen the AVCA/Sports Imports Division I National Player of the Week for leading the Cougars to the Mountain West Conference championship with victories over two ranked teams. She has won the award twice this season.
Puikkonen averaged 4.08 kills, 2.62 blocks, 2.31 digs and 0.15 service aces per game as then-No. 13 BYU defeated Wyoming 3-0, then-No. 19 Utah 3-1 and then-No 4 Colorado State 3-2. She chalked up 24 kills, 14 digs and 13 blocks to notch her second triple-double of the season versus Utah in the conference semifinals on Nov. 17. Puikkonen also attacked at a .422 clip
in the semifinal match. She recorded 15 kills, 12 digs and eight blocks to lead BYU over Colorado State on Nov. 18 in the championship match.
Puikkonen, the MWC Tournament Most Valuable Player, set a conference tournament record with 34 blocks, including individual-match conference tournament records of 13 blocks against Wyoming on Nov. 16 and Utah. For the week, she averaged 17.7 kills, 10.0 digs and 11.3 blocks per match for a different kind of triple-double.
BYU is 7-6-1 all-time against the Gauchos with the last meeting going to the Cougars in 1998. The two teams met for the first time in the 1969-70 season with UCSB taking the first-ever meeting. Before the Cougars won in 1998, UCSB had won twice in a row (1997, 1995).
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 864-215-5 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 346-33). 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).