Reigning Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Lindsy Hartsock returns in 2006 for her senior campaign. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
For a complete look at the Cougars entering the 2006 season, click the pdf link above.
PROVO -- The BYU women's volleyball team kicked off the 2006 season Monday with the opening of Fall Camp. After winning their first regular-season Mountain West Conference title since 1999 and returning to the NCAA Tournament with a 25-4 overall record, the Cougars are preparing to improve upon last year's successes in 2006 with a talented cast of returners and newcomers.
BYU head coach Jason Watson was named the MWC Coach of the Year last season after coaching the Cougars to a 14-2 league record in his first year as a Division I head coach. Watson and assistants Brent Aldridge and Brooke Huebner are optimistic about the Cougars' potential to make a run for consecutive MWC Championships.
"We made significant advances during the spring season," Watson said. "Our athletes have become more comfortable within our systems. As we further define our approach to the game I expect to see further gains. We have a lot of work to do, but our staff has tremendous confidence in each of our student-athletes."
The Cougars return 11 letterwinners and six starters this season, including one All-American and four players who have received All-MWC honors. Below is a look at the 2006 Cougar squad by position.
Senior Lindsy Hartsock, last year's MWC Player of the Year, returns after completing an impressive season in 2005. The 6-foot-4 Idaho native ranked second in the nation in hitting percentage with a .444 mark while ranking sixth in the league in blocks with 1.23 blocks per game. Hartsock received AVCA All-America Honorable Mention recognition for her performance last year and will be a major contributor again in her senior season. She is joined on the block by sophomore Rachel Dyer, a 2005 MWC All-Tournament team honoree who ranked fourth and eighth in the league, respectively, in hitting percentage and blocks. Returning redshirts Ashton Hansen and Marisa Vandersteen will also compete for playing time. Hansen led the state of Idaho in blocks as a high school senior in 2004 while Vandersteen earned first-team all-state honors.
With the return of senior Kim Wilson, who redshirted in 2005 due to injury, and juniors Erica Lott and Chelsea Goodman, the outside hitter position will be a major strength for the Cougars in 2006. Wilson was named All-MWC in 2004 and is a three-year starter. She was second on the team in kills per game at 3.15 while adding 2.04 digs per contest. Goodman and Lott ranked first and second, respectively, in the league in kills per game last season while earning All-MWC honors. Goodman's 4.25 kpg, the most by a Cougar since Nina Puikkonen in 1999, were coupled with 2.67 digs per game, second on the team. Lott recorded 4.05 kpg. BYU's outstanding hitting trio will be supplemented by sophomore Bryn Porter, who averaged 1.56 kpg in 18 games as a redshirt freshman, and returning redshirt Rachel Gleed, a Davidson College transfer who sat out the 2004 season before serving a mission to Argentina for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The right side is the only position with major question marks going into the 2006 season as the Cougars have not had a true rightside since losing Lindsey Metcalf, a four-year starter, to graduation in 2004. However, with BYU's depth on the outside, any one of a number of players may be counted on to fill this role. Junior Catherine Parker made the transition from middle blocker to rightside in the spring and may contribute at that position.
With the loss of All-American Lauren Richards Evans, who finished her career fourth all-time at BYU in assists, three players will be making a case for starting time at the setter position. Sophomore Amy Schlauder showed significant promise last season as a backup to Richards Evans. Against No. 14 Ohio State, the 6-foot-1 setter entered the match in game two with the Cougars trailing and led BYU to a .310 hitting percentage and a five-game upset. Schlauder also saw action in six other matches with two starts, including piloting the Cougars to a sweep over UVSC. Junior Jenna Judkins also returns as an option to quarterback the Cougar attack along with BYU's lone newcomer, true freshman Kiana Rogers. A California native, Rogers comes to the Cougars ranked as one of the top 100 volleyball players in the nation by prepvolleyball.com and could be counted on to play an immediate role.
The departure of starting libero Lindsey Evans, who elected to forego her remaining years of eligibility, creates opportunities for BYU's three remaining liberos. Sophomore Janvier Beaumont returns after a breakout freshman year in which she played in every match and recorded 1.63 digs per game. Junior Annie Kemp Pinegar also saw significant action in 2005, averaging 1.85 dpg. The two veterans will be joined in the back row rotation by returning redshirt Stephanie Lau.
Continuing its tradition of competitive scheduling, BYU will play eight teams that qualified for the 2005 NCAA Tournament, including two that were ranked in the final CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Poll. In addition to a full slate of Mountain West Conference action, the Cougars will play in three tournaments beginning with a four-team event hosted by the University of Central Florida at the end of August. BYU will then host the Molten Classic featuring Stanford, a perennial top-10 team, Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Virginia Commonwealth.
The Cougars will finish preseason nonconference play at a tournament hosted by Kansas before traveling to Utah State. After starting the 16-match MWC schedule in mid-September, the Cougars will step out of league action to take on Utah Valley State, Weber State and Nevada. This year's MWC Tournament will be held in Las Vegas, hosted by UNLV.