PROVO -- After hosting the BYU Mizuno Classic last week, the BYU women's volleyball team returns to the Smith Fieldhouse to host Weber State Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Cougars are 50-0 all-time versus the Wildcats dating back to their first meeting in 1970.
BYU is coming off a 1-3 performance at the Mizuno Classic, where they faced two of the top teams in the nation in No. 3 USC and No. 6 Florida. The Cougars' overall record stands at 2-5, as they look to regroup and get on a winning track against the Wildcats, who are off to an impressive 5-2 start.
"They are a really nice team," head coach Karen Lamb said. "They played us tough last year, and they are returning most of their starters. I'm glad we don't have to travel there to play, because they always play us tougher there."
The Cougars are led by the all-around play of setter Karina Puikkonen. This season she is averaging 9.27 assists per game, while boosting the BYU attack with 1.27 kills per game and a team-leading .268 attack percentage. Puikkonen also leads the team with 0.27 service aces per game, while contributing defensively with 1.58 blocks and 1.27 digs per game.
First-year coach Lamb has juggled her line-up with only two starters returning from last year's 20-9 team, and as a result 10 different Cougars have seen extended playing time this season. Provo native and true freshman Kim Wilson made her collegiate debut against No. 3 USC and is projected to be an integral part of the team this season.
Offensively the Cougars are being outhit .191 to .113 this season, but their blocking has been an early season strength. Led by first-year starters Carrie Bowers and Lexi Brown, who average 1.58 and 1.46 bpg, respectively, BYU has outblocked five of seven opponents this year.
Weber State returns five starters from a team that went 13-16, 9-5 Big Sky last year. They have two second-place tournament finishes this season, at the College of Charleston Invitational and the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanook Classic.
The Wildcats lean primarily on their outside attack for offense, as 788 of 1057 (75%) total attacks come from their outside hitters. Weber State is led by senior Holly Montano and junior Stephanie Kropushek who average 3.75 (.315) and 3.61 (.264) kills per game, respectively.
The last meeting between the two teams came in Ogden, Utah, at the Dee Events Center last year, where the Cougars prevailed in four games.