ATHENS -- Behind the play of sophomore middle blocker Nina Puikkonen, the BYU women's volleyball team defeated Toledo in its final match of the Georgia Invitational 15-2, 15-4, 13-15, 15-5.
Puikkonen, the national blocking leader last year, continued her strong defensive play ending the match with 10 blocks. She was also the Cougars' offensive leader finishing with 16 kills.
Despite the extraordinary play of Puikkonen, the Cougar offense was balanced as five Cougars had 10 or more kills and the team finished with a .456 hitting percentage for the match. Caroline Bower ended with 12 kills while Jackie Bundy, Melissa Layton and freshman Sunny Tonga each added 10.
"The team played very well," head coach Elaine Michaelis said. "Toledo is a good serving team. It was nice to be challenged by them."
After winning the first two games 15-2 and 15-4, BYU lost the third game 13-15. However, Michaelis was happy with what the team accomplished in the third game.
"It was good to get some people in there in the third game," Michaelis said. "We wanted to get them some experience. We'll take the loss in the third game to give people the chance to play and get experience."
The Cougars split their first two matches of the tournament yesterday, losing to Michigan 15-13, 15-10, 15-13 before bouncing back and defeating host Georgia.
Poor passing and serving were problems in the loss to Michigan, but the match against Toledo saw the Cougars serving and passing improve. Natalie Whittaker was especially effective defensively. She finished the match with a match-high 12 digs.
"Natalie did a great job passing and digging and she also had a couple of service aces," Michelis said. "Our serve receiving game was better today."
The win improves the Cougars' record to 2-1 overall. Their next match will be Friday at 5 p.m. against the University of Houston in the Loyola Marymount Tournament.