Colorado Springs, Colo. -- Sophomore middle blocker Nina Puikkonen from BYU has earned the Mountain West Conference Volleyball Player of the Week honor for the second time this season. Puikkonen helped lead the Cougars to two sweeps in conference action as they defeated San Diego State and UNLV during the week. BYU has won 30 of its 33 conference games and leads the league with a 10-1 match record. The Cougars are ranked No. 10 in the nation with a 21-3 overall slate.
In the week's action, Puikkonen was just short of two triple-doubles -- falling one dig short in each three-game match. At San Diego State she collected 12 kills, 11 blocks and nine digs, then at UNLV she totaled 19 kills, 11 blocks and nine digs. She averaged an impressive 5.17 kills, 3.67 blocks and 3.00 digs per game and hit .431 with 31 total kills and just nine errors in 51 attempts. She also served two aces. She established a new three-game season-high with the 11 blocks at SDSU, then tied that effort at UNLV.
A native of Murray, Utah, Puikkonen currently leads the conference in three statistical categories. She is tied for the lead in hitting percentage at .367, leads the way in kills with a 4.28 per game average and tops the chart in blocking with a 1.80 per game average. She was listed fifth in the nation in blocking prior to the weekend and will move up in those rankings following this performance.
Thus far this season, Puikkonen owns six double-doubles, reached double figures in blocking three times and put away double-digit kills in 23 of BYU's 24 matches -- 18 of which have lasted only three games.
This is the second player of the week honor for Puikkonen this season and in her career, making her the second player to claim the league's honor twice this year. She also earned the honor on Oct. 11 after helping the Cougars to three victories, including home sweeps over UNLV and SDSU. Colorado State's Angela Knopf also earned the honor twice this season. This is BYU's third volleyball player of the week selection of the season.
Mountain West Conference Volleyball Players of the Week: Sept. 7 -- Courtney Cox, CSU; Sept. 13 -- Shaylor Billings, AFA, and Anna-Lena Smith, BYU; Sept. 20 -- Angela Knopf, CSU; Sept. 27 -- Melody Friehauf, Wyo.; Oct. 4 -- McKelle Stilson, Utah; Oct. 11 -- Nina Puikkonen, BYU; Oct. 18 -- Summer Koons, AFA; Oct. 25 -- Angela Knopf, CSU; Nov. 1 -- Nicole Akporiaye, SDSU; Nov. 8 -- Nina Puikkonen, BYU.