Cougars Fall to Utah in MWC Semifinal | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Cougars Fall to Utah in MWC Semifinal

PROVO -- In a heated battle with 26 ties and 29 lead changes against rival Utah, BYU fell in four games, 30-27, 25-30, 32-30, 30-25, Friday night in the second semifinal match of the 2001 Mountain West Conference Tournament.

"I think the turning point of the match was the end of game three," said BYU head coach Elaine Michaelis. "Whoever won that had the confidence to go on and win the next game."

The loss marks the first time in the history of the MWC tournament that BYU hasn't advanced to the title game, and the first time in the six-year history of the conference tournament (WAC and MWC) that BYU hasn't played for the championship. The loss ended a streak of 20 straight BYU wins in the Smith Fieldhouse over the Utes. BYU, whose only other loss to Utah at home was on Sept. 21, 1985, is 30-2 at home against the Utes in the overall series. Friday's loss also marks the first time since the series began in 1970 that BYU has lost back-to-back matches to the Utes.

BYU's Nina Puikkonen led both teams with 21 kills (.444), but it wasn't enough with five of Utah's players finishing the game with 12 or more kills. Sylva Strzinkova led the Utes with 16 kills, nine digs and five blocks.

"It's hard to talk about," Puikkonen said. "You want something so much and it just didn't happen."

Puikkonen's double-double performance (21 kills and 11 digs) was her 11th of the season, and it was the 24th time in 26 matches this season that Puikkonen recorded double-digit kills. Karina Puikkonen complimented her sister's effort with 51 sets and 11 digs in her own double-double performance. BYU's Jackie Bundy finished with 12 kills, while Sunny Mahe had 14 kills. Uila Crabbe and Natalie Whittaker added 11 digs apiece for BYU.

The first game played out just like it should when the second and third seed square off. The lead yo-yoed between the two schools and was knotted, 15-15, midway through the first game. Utah took a lead shift at 26-25 and maintained the lead for a 30-27 victory. Both teams hit well in the first game, Utah hitting .267 and BYU hitting .314.

BYU jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the second game, but Utah replied with four unanswered points to gain the advantage. The Cougar slide ended on an into-the-net call against Utah followed by a Whittaker serve that fell safely in Ute territory. The Utes made a charge as BYU led 17-12, battling to within three at 19-16. The Cougars extended the lead to 28-18, the largest lead for either team in the match. Utah rallied on a 7-2 run, but two points were all the Cougars needed to win the second game.

In the third game Utah went on top, 9-4, early on. At 10-5, the Cougars began a surge but were soon battling against a 13-8 advantage. After a sideout point, Bundy recorded an ace to keep the Cougar momentum alive. Another Bundy serve landed untouched in Utah territory pulling BYU to within one, 13-12. After the Cougars took a 14-13 lead, the two teams exchanged points and leads until Utah pulled ahead with a 22-19 advantage and a little breathing room.

After a BYU timeout, the Cougars closed in fast, shedding the three-point deficit and tying game at 22-22. With the score tied at 28-28, Lindsey Steele came up with a huge block solo to put the Cougars within one point of the victory and a 2-1 advantage. Utah answered with two straight points to take a 30-29 advantage and threaten for the win. The two exchanged points and BYU found themselves on the trailing end of a 31-30 Utah lead. Utah would take the game, 32-30, when a BYU kill landed outside of play.

"We played well for three games," Michaelis said, "But we didn't play the fourth game very well after losing the third."

Down 9-4 early in the fourth game and 2-1 in the match, the Cougars weren't ready to concede, scratching back to 9-8 with four unanswered points. Utah followed with a 6-2 run to force a BYU timeout with the Utes in command,15-10. BYU pulled to within three at 24-21, but Utah would hold on to win the game, 30-25, taking the match in four games.

The season isn't over for BYU, who still has two regular season games to play next week and a probable at large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"I still think this is a good team," said Mahe. "This is another bump in the road and we've had a lot of them this season, but we're not done."

The Utes drew from four players to help pull out the win against the Cougars. Adrienne Drake hit an outstanding, career-high .765 attack percentage with 13 kills and no hitting errors. Drake was only a few stats shy of a triple-double, with nine digs and eight blocks. Alisa Geddes turned in 13 kills for the Utes along with nine digs and three service aces. Katrena Ellett had 13 kills and Kim Turner was right behind her with 12 kills.

No. 2 seed Utah advances to face No. 1 seed Colorado State in its first trip ever to the conference championship match. Colorado State (25-1 overall) was dealt its only loss of the season against Utah, two weeks ago in Salt Lake City. The No. 2 seed has won the last two MWC Championships.

The championship match begins Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.

Volleyball Box Score

The Automated ScoreBook

BYU Cougars vs Utah Utes (Nov 16, 2001 at BYU PROVO UTAH)

BYU Cougars | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE|POINTS

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2 WHITTAKER, Natalie.. 4| 9 3 27 .222| 4| 1 0| 1| 11| 0 3 0| 0| 11.5

5 PUIKKONEN, Karina... 4| 5 1 9 .444| 51| 0 0| 0| 11| 1 1 0| 1| 6.5

9 PUIKKONEN, Nina..... 4| 21 5 36 .444| 0| 2 3| 0| 11| 0 6 1| 0| 26.0

10 BUNDY, Jackie....... 4| 12 4 29 .276| 0| 2 1| 1| 5| 0 2 2| 0| 15.0

12 CRABBE, Uila........ 4| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 1 1| 2| 11| 0 0 0| 0| 1.0

15 MAHE, Sunny......... 4| 14 6 40 .200| 3| 1 1| 1| 7| 0 3 0| 1| 16.5

6 STEELE, Lindsey..... 3| 1 2 4 -.250| 0| 0 0| 0| 0| 1 0 0| 0| 2.0

11 RICHARDS, Lauren.... 3| 0 5 11 -.455| 0| 0 0| 0| 2| 0 1 0| 1| 0.5

17 MAHAFFEY, Michelle.. 1| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 0 0| 1| 0| 0 0 0| 0| 0.0

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Totals.............. 4| 62 26 156 .231| 58| 7 6| 6| 58| 2 16 3| 3| 79.0

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 10.0

Game K E TA Pct

1 18 7 35 .314 GAME SCORES 1 2 3 4 TEAM RECORDS

2 9 2 31 .226 BYU Cougars......... 27 30 30 25 19-7; 10-4 MWC

3 17 10 47 .149 Utah Utes........... 30 25 32 30 21-5; 11-3 MWC

4 18 7 43 .256

Utah Utes | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE|POINTS

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2 MORRILL, Jackie..... 4| 0 2 3 -.667| 39| 1 0| 0| 8| 0 0 0| 1| 1.0

10 STRZINKOVA, Sylva... 4| 16 4 41 .293| 0| 1 1| 2| 9| 1 4 2| 0| 20.0

12 ELLETT, Katrena..... 4| 13 7 25 .240| 3| 0 0| 3| 5| 1 1 0| 0| 14.5

13 GEDDES, Alisa....... 4| 13 7 36 .167| 0| 3 0| 0| 9| 0 2 0| 0| 17.0

15 TURNER, Kim......... 4| 12 3 24 .375| 0| 0 0| 0| 0| 0 3 1| 0| 13.5

16 BRADLEY-DRAKE, Adria 4| 13 0 17 .765| 0| 0 2| 0| 9| 1 7 1| 0| 17.5

3 STILSON, McKelle.... 4| 9 4 21 .238| 3| 0 0| 0| 2| 0 3 0| 0| 10.5

6 KARTCHNER, Kelsie... 4| 0 2 3 -.667| 22| 0 2| 0| 5| 0 0 0| 3| 0.0

9 URBANOVA, Lenka..... 4| 0 0 2 .000| 0| 1 4| 2| 11| 0 0 0| 0| 1.0

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Totals.............. 4| 76 29 172 .273| 67| 6 9| 7| 58| 3 20 4| 4| 95.0

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 13.0

Game K E TA Pct

1 19 7 45 .267 Site: BYU PROVO UTAH (SMITH FIELDHOUSE)

2 20 10 42 .238 Date: Nov 16, 2001 Attend: 1021 Time: 2H 10M

3 17 10 42 .167 Referees: ERIC ASAMI, KEN TAYLOR, JENA ACHERS

4 20 2 43 .419