COLORADO SPRINGS -- Junior middle blocker Nina Puikkonen from BYU was named the Mountain West Conference Volleyball Player of the Week, marking the first time this season and the third time overall Puikkonen has earned the award.
A native of Murray, Utah, Puikkonen helped the Cougars to a 5-0 record last week, highlighted by victories over three ranked opponents. BYU stunned No. 1 Stanford Friday 15-9, 13-15, 15-6, 15-8, and came back for a five-game win over No. 2 Long Beach State (15-17, 12-15, 15-13, 15-1, 15-6) the next night to win the Mizuno Classic Championship in Provo. The Cougars started the week with a 15-9, 9-15, 15-10, 15-4 win over No. 20 Kansas State Tuesday, and recorded three-game victories over Oral Roberts (15-7, 15-8, 15-3) and Fairfield (15-9, 15-4, 15-3) in the BYU Mizuno Classic.
Puikkonen was named the BYU Mizuno Classic Most Valuable Player after racking up 71 kills, 34 blocks and 36 digs to go with a .397 hitting percentage in the tournament. For the week, the two-time All-America selection hit .400 (88k-24e-160a) and totaled 88 kills (4.63 per game), 44 digs (2.32 per game), 41 total blocks (2.16 per game) and eight aces (.42 per game). She tied a career high with 25 kills and set a career high with four service aces vs. No. 2 Long Beach State. Last year's Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, Puikkonen was just one dig shy of a triple-double vs. No. 1 Stanford as she finished the match with 16 kills, 10 blocks and nine digs.
For the season, Puikkonen is second in the MWC with 113 kills and 52 total blocks. She is hitting .357 on the year and averaging 4.19 kills and 1.93 blocks per game. She led the nation in blocks per game as a freshman and ranked third in that category last season.
Mountain West Conference Players of the Week:
Sept. 4--Courtney Cox, Jr., OH, Colorado State