Cougars to face California and No. 7 Stanford at Pac-10/Mountain West Challenge

PROVO -- After winning its first two home matches last weekend, the No. 10 ranked BYU women's volleyball team hits the road again to play in the Pac-10/Mountain West Challenge featuring No. 7 Stanford, California, Utah and BYU. The Cougars, ranked No. 9 by Volleyball magazine and No. 10 in the AVCA/USA Today preseason poll, face California Friday at 5:30 p.m. (PST) before playing tournament host Stanford Saturday at 7 p.m. (PST). Utah will face the Cardinal Friday and the Golden Bears Saturday.

A Quick Look at the Cougars

The Couars are coming off a three-game sweep of Utah State and a five-game win over then 10th-ranked Pepperdine. BYU has won six straight matches after its season-opening loss to Michigan. BYU has eight letterwinners returning from last year's 31-4 team, including All-American setter Anna-Lena Smith and all-conference performers Nina Puikkonen, Melissa Layton and Mari Carpenter.

Quote from Coach Elaine Michaelis

We will be facing two good teams from the Pac-10. Both Cal and Stanford return all their starters from last year and Stanford has freshman Logan Tom, who is playing extremely well. Stanford has a long home winning streak and will be national championship contenders so this will be a good benchmark for us. We will definitely have our work cut out for us.

Scouting California

The Golden Bears are 4-4 and are coming off a four-game loss to No. 7 Stanford. California has eight letterwinners returning from last year's team, including all six starters. Senior outside hitter Brook Coulter and junior outside hitter Alicia Perry lead the team averaging 3.38 and 3.13 kills per game, respectively, while senior middle blocker Kellie Alva adds 2.88 kills per game and a team-high 1.12 blocks. The Golden Bear are hitting .186 on the year as a team.

Scouting Stanford

Stanford is ranked No. 7 in the nation and enters the Pac-10/Mountain West Challenge with a 6-1 record after a four-game win Tuesday over California. The Cardinal add the nation's top recruit, Salt Lake's Logan Tom, to a team that returns all six starters and 10 letterwinners. Stanford is hitting .300 on the year and is averaging 3.48 blocks per game. From her outside hitter position, Tom is leading the team averaging 5.29 kills per game while hitting .344. Three-time All-American and reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year Kerri Walsh adds 3.39 kills per game and a .373 attack percentage. Stanford is well balanced with five players hitting over .300 and averaging more than one block per game.

BYU Record

1999: 6-1 (2-0 home; 2-0 away; 2-1 neutral)

All-time : 819-205-5 (since records kept in 1969)

Coach Michaelis: same

Smith Approaching BYU Assist Record

BYU is set at the setter position with second-team AVCA All-American Anna-Lena Smith returning for her senior season. The 5-foot-10 Smith is averaging 13.77 assist per game and needs 414 more assists in 1999 to surpass current U.S. National Team setter Charlene Johnson Tagaloa atop BYU's all-time list.

Puikkonen Killing the Opposition

In the past five years, no one has averaged more blocks per game than Nina Puikkonen did last year (2.17 bpg). A Volleyball magazine Freshman All-American last year, this year she was named to the Georgia Invitational All-Tournament Team after hitting .371 and averaging 4.17 kills, 2.08 digs and 1.92 blocks per game. She nearly recorded back-to-back triple doubles with 19 kills, 12 digs and 9 blocks (while hitting .533) against Georgia, and 16 kills, 8 digs and 10 blocks (while hitting .429) against Toledo. She also earned all-tournament honors again at the Loyola Marymount Invitational. After seven matches, she leads the team in kills (4.38) and is averaging 1.46 blocks and hitting .391.

Carpenter Putting Down the Hammer

Senior outside hitter Mari Carpenter joined teammate Nina Puikkonen on the All-Tournament Team at the Loyola Marymount Invitational. She hit a dominating .531 for the week and unleashed many cross-court bombs to help her to a 5 kills per game average. She also earned all-tournament honors at the Georgia Invitational after hitting.429 and averaging 3.20 kills per game. The 6-foot-4 Carpenter is hitting a team-leading .446 and averaging 3.87 kills per game.

Bower Excelling on Outside

Senior Caroline Bower returned to an outside hitter position this year after filling a defensive role for the Cougars last year. She recorded more than 200 kills from the outside in her freshman and sophomore seasons despite being slowed by a knee injury her sophomore season. This year, she is averaging 3.31 kills and leads the team in digs (2.50 dpg) and is second in service aces with nine.

Soft-Spoken Michaelis Wields Winning Stick

In the world of collegiate women's volleyball, few if any coaches command more respect than Cougar head coach Elaine Michaelis. Now beginning her 38th year at the helm of the BYU program, Elaine Michaelis also enters her fifth year as Director of Women's Athletics. A proven winner, Michaelis is second all-time in Division I victories with an 819-205-5 record (since records were first kept at BYU beginning in 1969) and has the most wins ever by a female coach. She enters her first season in the new Mountain West Conference with a 321-30 conference record in four previous leagues and the distinction of winning the inaugural championship of each league. Last year, Michaelis coached in her 1000th recorded match and reached the milestone of 800 victories while coaching the Cougars to their third straight NCAA Regional Final. Michaelis, whose 31-4 record last year marked the eighth time she has recorded more than 30 victories in a season, has had 25 straight 20-win seasons.

The 1999 Schedule

With 17 road matches on its schedule, including a date this week with No. 7 ranked Stanford, BYU has a challenging 1999 schedule. The Cougars open Mountain West Conference play at Air Force Oct. 1 and end the regular season Nov. 19 and 20 at home against Wyoming and No. 19 Colorado State. During the conference season, BYU will sneak in away dates with Weber State, No. 14 Arizona and Arizona State and a home match-up Notre Dame, ranked preseason No. 20 by Volleyball magazine.

New Mountain West Conference

The Mountain West Conference enters its inaugural season in 1999. The Mountain West schools -- Air Force Academy, Brigham Young University, Colorado State University, University of New Mexico, San Diego State University, UNLV, University of Utah and Wyoming -- have garnered much success over the years in women's volleyball. Five of the institutions (BYU, CSU, New Mexico, San Diego State and Wyoming) have competed in the NCAA Tournament at least twice this decade, including BYU advancing to the NCAA Regional Finals each of the last three years and the NCAA Final Four in 1993.

MWC Favorites

The Cougars, who have won the inaugural conference championship in each of their three previous leagues, were voted the coaches' preseason favorite to win the first Mountain West Conference title. BYU will host the inaugural MWC tournament Nov. 24-27 at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.

A Glimpse at Last Week

After a slow start, BYU survived to win a five-game match over then No. 10 Pepperdine in front of a record 3,553 fans in the Smith Fieldhouse.The No. 12 Cougars lost the first game to the Waves, but recovered and won the match 8-15, 15-10, 11-15, 15-8, 15-9. Strong serving was a key to the win for the Cougars. Sophomore middle blocker Jackie Bundy led the team with three service aces and junior Melissa Layton's powerful jump serve caused passing troubles for Pepperdine. The Cougars were led offensively by sophomore middle blocker Nina Puikkonen who finished with 20 kills. Seniors Mari Carpenter and Caroline Bower added 16 and 15 kills, respectively. Bower also had 12 digs and five blocks. Besides her serving success, Bundy finished the night one block away from a triple double. She ended the match with career highs of 10 kills, 11 digs and nine blocks to go along with her three service aces. Senior Anna-Lena Smith came closer to setting the all-time assists record for the Cougars with her 64 assists against the Waves. Friday night, Nina Puikkonen and Mari Carpenter led BYU to a 3-0 win over Utah State, 15-6, 15-4, 15-9, in front of 1,352 fans. Puikkonen led the Cougar offense by finishing with 15 kills and a .650 hitting percentage while Carpenter ended with 11 kills and a career-high .846 hitting percentage. The Cougars had a team hitting percentage of .438.

At this point one year ago ...

Match #8 -- September 19

Smith Fieldhouse • Provo, Utah (176)

Mizuno Classic

PROVO -- Led by freshman middle blocker Nina Puikkonen, the 6th-ranked BYU women's volleyball team defeated Northern Illinois 15-4, 15-12, 15-9. Puikkonen ended the match with nine kills, 10 blocks and five digs. (7-1)

Match #9 -- September 19

Smith Fieldhouse • Provo, Utah (696)

Mizuno Classic

PROVO -- Led by tournament MVP Korie Rogers, BYU finished its three-match sweep of the BYU Mizuno Classic with a win over Central Michigan. Other Cougars named to the all-tournament team were Anna-Lena Smith and Nina Puikkonen. Smith finished the tournament with 100 assists and Puikkonen ended with 20 blocks for the Cougars. (8-1)

A Glimpse Back at the 1998 Season

As a team, BYU was second in the nation in blocking (3.77 bpg), sixth in hitting (.291) and 19th in assists (15.20 apg). The Cougars were also 19th in home attendance with 16 regular season matches averaging 1,135 Cougar faithful at the Smith Fieldhouse. Nina Puikkonen was the nation's top blocker (2.17 bpg). Puikkonen (Volleyball magazine Freshman), Korie Rogers and Anna-Lena Smith (both AVCA Second Team) earned All-America, District VII, and first-team All-WAC honors. The 31-4 record was the team's best since 1987. The Cougars four losses were to eventual national champion Long Beach State (1-3), NCAA runner-up Penn State (0-3) and No. 5 Hawaii, who edged the Cougars in two of their three matches, both times in five-game marathon contests.

Series with the Golden Bears

This will be BYU's 12th meeting with California. The Cougars hold

a 9-2 advantage in the series dating back to 1978. BYU is 5-2 on a

neutral court against California. BYU won the last meeting in 1994

and has a two-match winning streak against the Golden Bears.

Record: 9-2, H: 2-0, A: 1-0, N: 5-2

10/22/94 Dual H W 3-0

11/06/93 Cal/Day's Inn Invit. A W 3-1

09/09/89 Fullerton Tournament N L 0-3

10/28/86 Florida Invitational N W 0-2

10/10/86 UCLA NIVT N W 3-0

10/12/85 Tournament N W 3-0

09/14/84 San Diego St. Tourney N W 3-0

09/23/83 BYU Invitational H W 3-2

11/03/79 UCLA Tournament N L 0-2

11/03/78 UCLA Tournament H W 2-0

09/30/78 BYU Invitational N W 2-0

Series with the Cardinal

This will be BYU's ninth meeting with Stanford. The Cougars have

a 2-6 series record with the Cardinal, dating back to 1981. BYU is

0-2 at Stanford. The last meeting was a Stanford win in 1992. The

Cardinal have a two-match winning streak against the Cougars.

Record: 2-6, H: 1-2, A: 0-2, N: 1-2, Ntls: 0-4

09/15/92 Dual H L 3-0

12/11/87 NCAA Tournament A L 1-3

09/11/87 Dual H W 3-1

12/12/86 NCAA Tournament H L 0-3

12/16/85 NCAA Tournament A L 1-3

12/09/83 NCAA Tournament N L 1-3

11/05/82 UCLA Tournament N L 0-2

09/17/81 San Diego Invite N W 2-1

Cougars in Conference Stats

Team:

Blocks: first -- 3.54

Hitting: first -- .304

Kills: second -- 17.00

Assists: second -- 14.88

Aces: third -- 2.00

Digs: seventh -- 13.08

Individual:

Blocks: Jackie Bundy, first -- 1.57

Nina Puikkonen, second -- 1.46

Hitting: Mari Carpenter, first -- .446

Nina Puikkonen, third -- .391

Kills: Nina Puikkonen, first -- 4.38

Mari Carpenter, fifth -- 3.87

Aces: Melissa Layton, second -- 0.52

Assists: Anna-Lena Smith, first -- 13.77

Cougars Match Highs

Kills *Hitting Assts Digs Blocks Aces

Caroline Bower 16 .615 27 7 5

Mari Carpenter 24 .846 6 6

Anna-Lena Smith 9 .615 89 15 7

Melissa Layton 13 .800 5 15 15 4

Nina Puikkonen 25 .688 19 14

Alyssa Barrus 4 .143 2 5

Jackie Bundy 10 .600 11 9 3

Natalie Whittaker 6 12 2

Sunny Tonga 10 .292 4 4

*minimum of 10 attempts

1999 Cougar Honors

Georgia Outback Invitational All-Tournament Selections