PROVO -- With identical 4-0 Mountain West Conference volleyball records, BYU and Utah will face each other for the first time in 1999 at 7 p.m. Friday at Crimson Court in Salt Lake City. Ranked eighth in the nation, BYU enters the match with a 12-2 overall record and a six-match winning streak. Utah boasts a 13-4 record and a five-match winning streak.
A Quick Look at the Cougars
After two home wins last weekend, BYU returns to the road where it has played 10 of its 14 matches so far this year. The Cougars are coming off three wins last week, including a 3-1 road win at Weber State and 3-0 home sweeps of conference opponents UNLV and San Diego State. Individually, the Cougars are led by sophomore Nina Puikkonen who leads the Mountain West Conference in kills (4.21 kpg) and blocks (1.65 bpg). Senior Mari Carpenter leads the conference in hitting and is sixth nationally with a .405 attack percentage while All-American setter Anna-Lena Smith leads the league in assists averaging 13.4 assist per game (16th nationally). Senior Caroline Bower tops the Cougars in digs averaging 3.0 digs per game. As a team, the Cougars top the Mountain West Conference in attack percentage at .292 and blocks per game at 3.5 blocks and are second in kills (16.7 kpg) and assists (14.9 apg) and third in service aces (1.8 sapg).
Quote from Coach Elaine Michaelis
"It's always a good match in their gym. They have a good crowd that creates a lot of energy. It will be a very difficult match. Utah will play at the top of its game and they are a very good team with a great record against quality competition. Mckelle Stilson is playing very well for them and Adrianne Bradley is a nice addition to their team this year. We are improving as a team. Nina had a great week for us last week and Anna-Lena has stepped up her game."
Series with Utah
This will be the 63rd women's volleyball meeting between the two schools with BYU holding a 56-6 advantage in the series that dates back to 1970. The Cougars have a seven-match winning streak against the Utes since losing a 3-0 match to Utah in Salt Lake City in 1995. Overall, BYU is 18-5 against Utah in Salt Lake City.
Last Year vs. the Utes
October 2 Â• Crimson Court Â• Salt Lake City, Utah (1,257)
SALT LAKE CITY -- BYU demonstrated why it is ranked fifth in the nation, defeating Utah in three games, 15-3, 15-10, 15-1, on its home court in the WAC opener for both teams. Senior Korie Rogers and freshman Nina Puikkonen led the way for BYU, each recording 10 kills. Puikkonen also recorded 10 blocks on the night while Melissa Layton and Mari Carpenter both added seven kills. Anna-Lena Smith had 32 assists and a match-high 12 digs. (BYU record:11-1, 1-0)
October 30 Â• Smith Fieldhouse Â• Provo, Utah (2,201)
PROVO -- Led by outside hitter Mari Carpenter, fourth-ranked BYU defeated in-state rival Utah 15-6, 15-4, 15-9 Friday in front of 2,201 fans, the second largest crowd to watch a match during the year at the Smith Fieldhouse. Carpenter, who also plays on the Cougars' basketball team, knocked down 15 kills in 24 attempts without making an error to headline BYU's offensive attack. She also played well defensively at the net, totaling four blocks on the night. (BYU record: 21-1, 8-0)
Scouting the Utes
The Utes enter the week with a 13-4 record, including a perfect 4-0 Mountain West Conference mark. Utah has won its last five consecutive matches. The Utes have played 10 common opponents with the Cougars in 1999 and have a 7-3 record in those matches compared to BYU's 9-1 mark. The Utes and Cougars both dropped matches to No. 7 Stanford while the Utes also fell to No. 11 Pepperdine and Georgia. Utah is led by McKelle Stilson, who averages 3.71 kills per game, 1.26 blocks and a .329 hitting percentage. She also adds 1.08 digs per game for the Utes. Other Utes to watch include Adrianne Bradley, who averages 3.20 kills and 3.05 digs per game, and Alisa Geddes, who adds 2.70 kills per game and a team-leading 3.16 digs per game average.
Smith's Record-"Setting" Pace
All-American senior setter Anna-Lena Smith leads the conference in assist and is 14th nationally with a 13.40 assists per game average. After adding 128 assists last week, She needs 129 more assists to surpass current U.S. National Team setter Charlene Johnson Tagaloa atop BYU's all-time list.
Puikkonen Name MWC Player of the Week
Puikkonen earned Mountain West Conference Player of the Week honors last week. A dominating force at the net during the three matches, Puikkonen put away 17 blocks and 41 kills for averages of 1.70 blocks and 4.10 kills per game. She hit .447 (41-7-76) for the week, collected 21 digs and served two aces. Puikkonen has recorded double-digit kills in 13 of 14 Cougar matches this year. 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 and the Loyola Marymount Invitational.
Carpenter Well Rested for Match with Utes
Senior outside hitter Mari Carpenter is well rested after sitting out the Cougars Saturday win over San Diego State. Carpenter is ranked sixth in the nation with a hitting percentage of .415. She has been named to the All-Tournament Team at the Loyola Marymount Invitational Georgia Outback Invitational.
Bower Provides All-Around Effort
Senior Caroline Bower leads the team with four double-doubles. She leads the team in digs averaging 3.00 per game and has had double-digit digs a team-high eight times. She continued her strong play last week with 15 kills and 17 digs against Weber State, eight kills and 10 digs against UNLV and nine kills and nine digs against San Diego State.
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 824-206-5 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.
New Mountain West Conference
The Mountain West Conference enters its inaugural season in 1999. The Mountain West schools -- Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah and Wyoming -- have garnered much success over the years in women's volleyball. Five schools (BYU, CSU, New Mexico, SDSU 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. The Cougars have won the inaugural conference championship in each of their four previous leagues and were the coaches' preseason pick to win the first MWC title. BYU hosts the MWC tournament Nov. 24-27 at the Smith Fieldhouse.
MWC Preseason Poll
2. Colorado State
6. New Mexico
7. San Diego State
8. Air Force
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.
Percentage .292 .211
Kills per game 16.7 16.2
Assists per game 14.9 14.5
Aces per game 1.8 1.5
Errors per game 2.1 1.6
Digs per game 13.7 16.2
Blocks per game 3.5 2.7
Cougars in Conference Stats
Blocks: 1st -- 3.54
Hitting: 1st -- .292
Kills: 2nd -- 16.71
Assists: 2nd -- 14.92
Aces: 3rd -- 1.81
Digs: 5th -- 13.71
Blocks: Nina Puikkonen, 1st -- 1.65
Jackie Bundy, 2nd -- 1.47
Hitting:Mari Carpenter, 1st -- .405
Nina Puikkonen, 3rd -- .362
Caroline Bower, 10th --.261
Kills: Nina Puikkonen, 1st -- 4.21
Mari Carpenter, 5th -- 3.85
Caroline Bower, 10th -- 3.38
Assists:Anna-Lena Smith, 1st -- 13.40
Aces: Caroline Bower, T 4th -- 0.40
Melissa Layton, T 4th -- 0.40
Digs: Caroline Bower, 5th -- 3.00
Cougars in National Stats
Hitting: 8th -- .292
Blocks: 4th -- 3.54
Hitting: Mari Carpenter, 6th -- .405
Blocks: Nina Puikkonen, 10th -- 1.65
Assists: Anna-Lena Smith, 16th -- 13.40
1999 Cougar Honors
Georgia Outback Invitational All-Tournament Selections