LOS -- Improving to 3-1 on the year, BYU's No. 9 ranked women's volleyball team defeated Houston Friday, 3-0, in the first match of the Loyola Marymount Invitational.
The Cougars continued to get outstanding play from sophomore Nina Puikkonen and senior Mari Carpenter in the 16-14, 15-11, 15-13 victory over the Cougars of Houston. Puikkonen and Carpenter each contributed a team-leading 13 kills while hitting .333 and .385, respectively. Puikkonen also performed well on defense, adding 12 digs and six blocks.
"I was encouraged by our passing and thought we played much better defense than we did last week," BYU coach Elaine Michaelis said. "We were also able to play some of our younger players and played much better than final scores would indicate."
Freshman Sunny Tonga played rightside hitter for the first time this year, tallying four kills and four digs. Senior Caroline Bower led the Cougar defensive effort with a match-high 14 digs while adding eight kills. All American setter Anna-Lena Smith led the team with a .556 hitting percentage on six kills and had a match-high 43 assists while directing BYU's attack.
The Cougars face tournament host Loyola Marymount Saturday at 1 p.m. before returning to Provo to prepare for their home openers next week against Utah State and No. 11 Pepperdine.