Cougars Host Second Tournament With BYU/Utah Challenge

Lauren Richards and the Cougars return to action this weekend as hosts of the BYU/Utah Challenge. BYU will face Northern Colorado, Saint Mary's and #6 UCLA in two days of competition. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

BYU Welcomes #6 UCLA Into Provo

PROVO -- The Cougars continue a seven-game homestand this weekend as they co-host the BYU/Utah Challenge. With matches against Northern Colorado, Saint Mary's and #6 UCLA, BYU will look to improve its 4-2 season record.

"Each team we play this weekend will be good," said BYU head coach Karen Lamb. "We are going to have to be consistently good in every phase of the game. That's what good teams do -- they play their best game every night."

BYU is 2-1 at home this season after a Mizuno Classic showing in which the Cougars defeated Memphis and Central Florida but lost in five games to Oklahoma.

Redshirt freshman Erica Lott and junior Kim Wilson, both outside hitters, earned BYU Mizuno Classic All-Tournament Team honors over the weekend. Lott recorded double-digit kills in two of the three Mizuno matches with 13 against Memphis and a career-high 19 against Oklahoma. She also notched ten service aces for the Tournament. Wilson, who leads the Cougars in kills per game with 3.86, also recorded 13 kills against Memphis and 20 against Oklahoma, marking the second straight weekend that Wilson has recorded 20 or more kills in a match.

BYU will open the Challenge against Northern Colorado Friday morning at 10 a.m. All Provo District students will receive free admission to the match as school is not in session and a 2-for-1 pass for one of the two remaining weekend games.

The Cougars will then take on Saint Mary's Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and UCLA Saturday evening at 5 p.m. The Saint Mary's matchup will be featured on BYU Radio and live stats will be available for all matches by going to the schedule page of the BYU Women's Volleyball homepage at byucougars.com/volleyball_w.

The following is a look at the teams that will take the floor against BYU this weekend:

In just their second year of Division I status, the Northern Colorado Bears are 5-3 to start the 2004 season. The reigning Division I Independent National Champions have notched wins over BYU Mountain West Conference rivals Air Force and Wyoming while falling to New Mexico. Outside hitter Erin Deffenbaugh earned AVCA Independent National Player of the Week Honors along with Bears setter Corrinne Chapin, who picked up Setter of the Week accolades.

Saint Mary's comes to Provo a perfect 8-0 to start the 2004 season, the best start in school history, after notching wins over BYU opponent Utah State and then-No. 6 Stanford. The Gaels have won six consecutive non-conference tournaments dating back to the 2003 season and are listed No. 26 in this week's USA Today / CSTV Top 25 Coaches Poll.

The UCLA Bruins are looking to bounce back from a five-game loss at #11 Hawai'i last week after starting the season 6-0. The Bruins swept then-No. 15 Texas A&M and then-No. 17 Santa Clara and were ranked as high as No. 3 before suffering a setback at the hands of the Rainbow Wahine. UCLA is the only team the Cougars will face this season with which they have a losing series record at 5-22-1. Bruins head coach Andy Banachowski will be looking for his 970th win this weekend and is the NCAA Division I leader in overall victories, ahead of former BYU head coach Elaine Michaelis. BYU is 116-123 all-time against ranked opponents.

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