Cougars Return Home For Busy Week

The Cougar blocking effort currently ranks 23rd in the nation and should make an impact on this week's matches against Weber State, San Diego State and UNLV. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- The Cougars return home this weekend for a busy schedule that includes instate rival Weber State on Tuesday and Mountain West Conference foes San Diego State and UNLV on Friday and Saturday. At 2-1 in the league, tied for third, and 0-2 against instate squads, BYU hopes to make a statement against all three teams.

"We want to keep getting better at everything we're doing," said BYU head coach Karen Lamb. "All of these teams are pretty good, but if we take care of things on our side of the net, we'll have a successful week."

BYU went 2-1 on the road last week as they fell in five games to Utah State on Tuesday but rebounded to sweep both New Mexico and Air Force Thursday and Saturday respectively. The 3-0 victory over the Lobos marked the 19th straight sweep BYU has recorded against New Mexico, dating back to 1995.

Junior Lexi Brown recorded double-digit kills in all three matches while sophomore Lindsy Hartsock put up 11 blocks against both Utah State and New Mexico. In fact, BYU's 21 team blocks against the Lobos rank as the eighth-highest single-match blocking total in BYU history. Lauren Richards also excelled last week as she recorded a career-high .700 hitting percentage against Air Force.

"We're really working on winning that third game and putting the match away early," said Lamb. "We want to take care of the basics and not let the match get out of control."

Nationally, the Cougars continue to make their presence known as they are 23rd in the nation in blocking and 25th in hitting percentage as of the latest rankings released on Sept. 26. BYU leads the MWC in the blocking category and is second only to Colorado State in offensive efficiency.

The Weber State match-up will begin Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. The Cougars will take on the Aztecs Friday evening at 5 p.m. before the BYU home football game and then face off against the Rebels Saturday night at 7 p.m. Live stats for all three matches can be accessed by going to the schedule page of the BYU Women's Volleyball home page at http://www.byucougars.com/volleyball_w/. Despite a 3-4 home record this season, the Cougars are optimistic about their chances in this week's match-ups. Here's a look at the teams that will take the floor against BYU:

WEBER STATE

The 'Cats are now 2-14 on the season and 1-3 in Big Sky play after being swept last week, falling in four games to No. 22 Utah and losing conference road matches at Eastern Washington and Portland State. They have lost four straight matches heading into this week.

Injuries have plagued the Wildcats all season long, contributing to their tough year. Setter Shelby Walford will miss the rest of the season with a broken toe. Outside hitter Lindsay Phillips missed four straight matches with an knee injury. Sophomore Kim Ellis played in all three matches. Ellis, has now played in the last five matches, after sitting out the first 11 with an injury.

The Wildcats are led by senior middle blocker Lindsey Harris who averages 2.33 kills per game. BYU has never lost a match to the Wildcats, owning a 52-0 series advantage.

SAN DIEGO STATE

The Aztecs have had a rough start in 2004, losing their first 14 straight matches before finally coming up with a win last week against Wyoming to move to 1-14 on the year and 1-2 in the Mountain West Conference. However, three of their losses came at the hands of ranked teams as they fell to then-No. 17 Arizona to open the season, then-No. 18 UC Santa Barbara and then-No. 9 Colorado State.

San Diego State is led by sophomore outside hitter Melissa Stapley who averages 3.26 kills per game, good enough for ninth in the MWC. Junior Ashley Bowker is fourth in the Conference with 1.31 blocks per game and freshman Aime Cordeiro ranks fifth in digs (3.60).

BYU owns a 27-15 series advantage over the Aztecs.

UNLV

At 2-1 in MWC play , the Rebels are currently tied with BYU for third in the Mountain West. UNLV split in two matches last week, defeating the Wyoming Cowgirls in five but losing to Colorado State in four to move to 8-5 on the season.

The Rebels are led by Bulgarian freshman Maria Aladjova, who averages 4.04 kills per game, leading the MWC. Freshman Jada Walker also leads the league with 4.61 digs per game. UNLV currently tops the Conference in service aces per game (1.90) and digs per game (18.96) while coming in second in assists (14.73) and kills (16.08).

The Cougars are 13-2 all-time against the Rebels.

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