Mortensen Tabbed as Volunteer Assistant

Former BYU All-American Nina Puikkonen Mortensen will be joining the women's volleyball coaching staff in 2005 as the volunteer assistant coach. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah (July, 22, 2005) -- Former BYU All-American blocker Nina Puikkonen Mortensen has been named volunteer assistant coach on the BYU women's volleyball coaching staff, BYU head coach Jason Watson announced today.

"Nina is a great addition to our coaching staff," said Watson. "Her experience as an athlete at BYU, then with the USA National Team, will benefit our coaching staff and the student-athletes in our program."

A native of Murray, Utah, Mortensen comes to BYU from UVSC where she was an assistant coach for two years. She helped the Wolverines achieve a 10-14 mark in their first year of NCAA Division I play. Mortensen served as the scouting coordinator and did recruiting at both in and out of state club tournaments. She was also chosen to represent UVSC as a local region's high performance coach.

"I have a great deal of confidence in Nina," said Watson. "She has made a successful transition from playing to coaching. Her personality and work ethic blends well with our current staff, so I look forward to her having a positive influence on our student-athletes."

As a player, Mortensen was a three-time All-American and is BYU's all-time leader in blocks per game (1.87) and career hitting percentage (.349). A four-year starter from 1998-2001, Mortensen helped guide BYU to two conference championships and four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The Cougars never dropped out of the top 25 rankings and were listed as high as No. 5 with Mortensen in the line-up.

During her stellar playing career, Mortensen earned a host of honors including Mountain West Conference Player of the Year and MWC Freshman of the Year to complete her four-year all-conference career. Ranked among the top five in the league in career kills, blocks and hitting, she earned academic all-conference honors and was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII Second Team. She was the only player to be selected AVCA National Player of the Week twice in 2000 and was the nation's top blocker during her freshman season.

After BYU, Mortensen continued her passion for volleyball training with the U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team. She was the first Cougar chosen to play in the USPV, but when the league suddenly folded she went on to play with a professional team in Finland. In 2002 she was chosen to be a co-captain for the A2 team that competed in the Pan-American Games in Tijuana, Mexico.

Mortensen graduated from BYU in spring 2002 with a bachelor's degree in zoology, emphasis in human biology. Born Nina Puikkonen, she married Ryan Mortensen in August 2004.