Nina Puikkonen Named to AVCA All-America First Team

RICHMOND -- BYU middle blocker Nina Puikkonen was selected to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America First Team Wednesday. The AVCA will present the 20th annual All-America awards Friday at the AVCA All-America/Player of the Year banquet at the Richmond (Va.) Marriott Hotel.

Puikkonen, a junior, is the first Cougar to earn first-team honors since Amy Steele Gant was named to the first team as a senior in 1997. Puikkonen becomes the eighth BYU women's volleyball athlete to be selected to the coaches association's first team and the fourth to do so as a junior. Puikkonen , a second-team AVCA All-American last year and a Volleyball Magazine Freshman All-American in 1998, also becomes the 10th Cougar to earn multiple AVCA All-America awards.

The 6-3 middle blocker was named MWC Player of the Week four times this year and was the only player in the country to be selected AVCA Sports Imports National Player of the Week twice this season . She also was an all-conference selection for the third straight year. She led BYU in kills (467), block solos (24), block assists (189), total blocks (213) and hitting percentage (.357) and was second on the team with 38 service aces and 226 digs. After leading the nation in blocks as a freshman and ranking third last year, she was the nation's second-best blocker this season with 1.88 blocks per game average. She also excelled in the class room, being selected to the Verizon Academic District VIII Third Team.

Puikkonen joined Loyola Marymount University senior Sarah McFarland and UCLA junior Kristee Porter as two-time All-Americans who moved up from the 1999 AVCA Division I Second-Team All-American squad to the first-team in 2000. In addition, Long Beach State University junior Cheryl Weaver and Stanford University sophomore Logan Tom are repeat AVCA Division I First-Team All-America selections from 1999. Nicole Branagh, a senior from the University of Minnesota, is a two-time AVCA Division I Second-Team All-American.

The selections are made by the AVCA Division I All-America Committee: Katie Weismiller, Indiana, Chair; Bonnie Kenny, Massachusetts; Cindy Gannon, Southeast Missouri State; Janice Kruger, Maryland; John Dunning, Pacific; Jeff Nelson, Texas Tech; Judy Green, Alabama; Denise Corlett, Stanford University; and Sharon Dingman, Illinois State, AVCA Awards Chair.

Nina Puikkonen 2000 Season Profile

She was named to the AVCA All-America First Team and to the West All-Region Team ... she was an all-conference selection for the third straight year ... was named MWC Player of the Week four times this year and was the only player in the country to be selected AVCA Sports Imports National Player of the Week twice this season ... she was named the MVP of the MWC Tournament after leading the Cougars to the tournament championship ... she recorded double-digit kills in 28 of 33 matches ... she had 20 or more kills in four matches, including a season-high 25 kills against Long Beach State ... she had a team-high nine double-doubles and two triple-doubles ( both vs. Utah) ... overall, she led BYU in kills (467), block solos (24), block assists (189), total blocks (213) and is second on the team with 38 service aces and 226 digs ... she has a team-best averages of 4.13 kpg, 1.88 bpg and a .357 hitting percentage ... in MWC conference matches she was first in the MWC in kills (4.30) and service aces (0.43), second in blocks (1.68), and third in hitting (.369) ... she was second in the nation in blocking with a 1.88 blocks per game average ... she moved into 7th place on BYU's all-time kills list and into 3rd place on BYU's all-time blocks list this season ... she was selected to the Verizon Academic District VIII Third Team.

2000 AVCA Division I First-Team All-America

Player Institution Pos. Yr. Ht. Hometown

Dana Burkholder Arizona S Jr. 5-8 Bakersfield, Calif.

Greichaly Cepero Nebraska S So. 6-2 Dorado, Puerto Rico

Kara Gormsen Pacific S Sr. 5-10 Stockton, Calif.

Lily Kahumoku Hawai'i OH So. 6-2 Lubbock, Texas

Angela Knopf Colorado State MB Jr. 6-1 Troutdale, Ore.

Sherisa Livingston Wisconsin MB Jr. 6-2 Simi Valley, Calif.

Sarah McFarland + Loyola Marymount OH Sr. 6-6 Michigan City, Ind.

Laura Pilakowski Nebraska OH So. 6-1 Columbus, Neb.

Kristee Porter + UCLA OH Jr. 5-11 Tyler, Texas

Nina Puikkonen + Brigham Young MB Jr. 6-3 Murray, Utah

Logan Tom ' Stanford OH So. 6-1 Salt Lake City, Utah

Cheryl Weaver ' Long Beach State MB Jr. 6-2 Washington, D.C.

2000 AVCA Division I Second-Team All-America

Player Institution Pos. Yr. Ht. Hometown

Nicole Branagh + Minnesota OH Sr. 6-1 Orinda, Calif.

Amanda Burbridge Arizona State OH Sr. 6-2 Scottsdale, Ariz.

Courtney Cox Colorado State OH Jr. 6-0 Longmont, Colo.

Lizzy Fitzgerald Wisconsin S Jr. 6-0 New Orleans, La.

Stephanie Hagen Minnesota MB Jr. 6-3 Minnetonka, Minn.

Amber Holmquist Nebraska MB So. 6-4 Houston, Texas

Jennifer Joines Pacific MB Fr. 6-3 Milpitas, Calif.

Mishka Levy Penn State OH So. 6-2 Stafford, Texas

Jennifer Pahl USC MB Jr. 6-1 Murrieta, Calif.

April Ross USC OH Fr. 6-1 Newport Beach, Calif.

Brooke Rundle UC Santa Barbara S Jr. 5-6 Westlake, Calif.

Colleen Smith Texas Tech OH Sr. 6-7 Albuquerque, N.M.

' Indicates 1999 AVCA First-Team All-America selection

+ Indicates 1999 AVCA Second-Team All-America selection