PROVO -- After a 3-0 non-conference win over Notre Dame Tuesday, BYU takes the road to play four matches in five nights, including matches with nationally ranked Colorado State and Arizona. The 14-2 Cougars, ranked No. 8 in the AVCA/USA Today poll, face 17-1 and 15th-ranked Colorado State Friday and Wyoming Saturday in Mountain West Conference competition. BYU then heads to Arizona to play the Pac-10's Arizona State on Monday and No. 18 Arizona on Tuesday. All-American setter Anna-Lena Smith will likely break the school assist record Friday or Saturday as she needs just 46 more assists to surpass current U.S. National Team setter Charlene Johnson Tagaloa.
A Quick Look at the Cougars
The Cougars have a eight match win streak and have won 14 straight games and 21 of their last 22. BYU sits atop the Mountain West Conference with a 5-0 record and has yet to drop a game to a Mountain West foe, winning all five matches in three games. The Cougars lead the conference in hitting and blocking.
Quote from Coach Elaine Michaelis
"We have played a lot of road matches so far this year and this will be a tough stretch playing four times in five nights against some very good teams. Colorado State is a good, solid team that is a lot like our team. They have a lot of players that can do it for them. We will have to play very well at, especially at their place. The trip doesn't get any easier. It is tough to play in Laramie and Arizona State and Arizona are both very good teams."
Series with Colorado State
BYU has a 39-7-1 record against Colorado State but the Rams won the last meeting, a 3-1 win in Fort Collins. The Cougars had won 18 in a row dating back to CSU's previous win in 1987. BYU is 14-5 at CSU.
Series with Wyoming
The Cougars are 41-3 against Wyoming, including two 3-0 wins last year, once in Provo and at the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas. The Cougars have a 16-match win streak against Wyoming dating back to 1989 (3-1 Wyoming win in Laramie). Overall, BYU is 18-2 in Laramie.
Series with Arizona State
BYU is 19-4 against Arizona State, including 4-1 in Tempe. BYU has a three-match win streak with ASU's last win taking place in 1988 (3-1 in Provo).
Series with Arizona
The Cougars are 22-10 versus Arizona but lost the last meeting, 3-1, at home in the 1994 NCAA Tournament. BYU is 2-3 in Tucson. Dating back to 1989, Arizona has won three of the last five matches.
Scouting the Opponents
Colorado State is ranked 15th in the AVCA/USA Today poll after dropping its first match of the year last week to UNLV. The Rams are 17-1 overall and 4-1 in the Mountain West Conference. They led the league in assists and are second in kills. Wyoming (13-5, 4-1) had a big three-game sweep of UNLV last Friday before losing 3-1 to San Diego State. Melody Friehauf is second in the conference in hitting (.382). Arizona State is 10-5 overall and 6-3 in the Pac-10 with all three losses coming against nationally ranked UCLA, USC and Stanford. Arizona is 12-5 overall and 6-3 in the Pac-10. The Wildcats defeated USC and suffered losses to ASU, UCLA and Stanford. Both Arizona and Arizona State are coming off wins over Cal, who BYU also defeated earlier this year.
Smith's Record-"Setting" Pace
All-American senior setter Anna-Lena Smith leads the conference in assist and is 16th nationally with a 13.37 assists per game average. After adding 44 assists against Utah Friday night, Smith now needs 46 assists to surpass current U.S. National Team setter Charlene Johnson Tagaloa atop BYU's all-time list. She should top the record this week (at Colorado State or Wyoming). She also holds the BYU match record with 89 assists against Hawaii in last year's WAC Championship match. Smith is averaging 1.14 kills, 1.86 digs while hitting .367.
Puikkonen Strong in the Middle
Puikkonen had 20 kills, 10 digs and seven blocks in Tuesday's win over Notre Dame. She was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Week (Oct. 4-10) for her play against Weber State, UNLV and San Diego State. In 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 14 of 15 Cougar matches this year. She had a team-leading 13 kills and five blocks against Utah Friday while hitting .458. She leads the Mountain West Conference in kills (4.22 kpg) and blocks (1.65 bpg). In the past five years, no one has averaged more blocks per game than Nina Puikkonen did last year (2.17 bpg). She is currently 10th this year in blocks per game. A Volleyball magazine Freshman All-American last year, this year she has been named to the Georgia Invitational and the Loyola Marymount Invitational all-tournament teams.
Carpenter Tops Conference in hitting
Senior outside hitter Mari Carpenter enters the week ranked 6th in the nation in hitting while leading the conference with an attack percentage of .392. She sixth in the Mountain West with 3. 83 kills per game. The 6-4 senior, who also plays on BYU's basketball team, was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Loyola Marymount Invitational Georgia Outback Invitational earlier this year.
Bower Provides Leadership with All-Around Game
Senior Caroline Bower leads the team with four double-doubles. She leads the team in digs averaging 3.14 per game and has had double-digit digs a team-high nine times. She had a match-high 16 digs and seven kills in BYU's win over Utah Friday. The previous week she had 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. The senior team captain tied for 10th in the Mountain West Conference with a .258 hitting percentage and is third in digs averaging 3.14 per game. She also averages 3.31 kills per game from her outside hitter position and ranks eighth in the conference with a team-leading 19 service aces (0.37 sapg).
Bundy Coming Off Strong Outing at Utah
Sophomore middle blocker Jackie Bundy is playing very well. She hit a team-leading .471 with nine kills and seven digs against Utah and hit .462 with seven kills and a career-high 12 digs against Notre Dame. Bundy is a strong blocker in the middle as well, averaging 1.37 blocks per game -- the fourth best average among Mountain West Conference players.
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