Chelsea Goodman has recorded an MWC-leading 12 double-doubles so far this season, including one in each of the last five matches. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The No. 18 BYU women's volleyball team will begin the second half of Mountain West Conference play at home this weekend, hosting UNLV on Friday night and San Diego State on Saturday night in the Smith Fieldhouse. With a 16-2 overall record and 7-1 MWC mark, the Cougars are currently in second place in the conference with one month left in the regular season.
"We're pleased with the progress we've made during the first half of the conference season," said BYU head coach Jason Watson. "The second half begins with two competitive opponents. Both UNLV and SDSU will challenge us. They play wonderful defense, which will require us to be patient offensively. I'm excited to see how our team will respond to this weekend's challenge."
The Cougars have indeed made significant progress during the first half of league play. Of the seven overall statistical categories tracked by the MWC, BYU players lead the league in four of them (hitting percentage -- Rachel Dyer; kills -- Erica Lott; assists -- Amy Schlauder; points -- Erica Lott) and are second in one other (blocks -- Lindsy Hartsock). BYU also packs one-two punches in three categories as Rachel Dyer and Lindsy Hartsock rank first and second, respectively, in hitting percentage; Erica Lott and Chelsea Goodman rank first and second, respectively, in kills; and Lott and Goodman also rank first and second, respectively, in points.
Returning to the friendly confines of the Smith Fieldhouse will be a welcome way for the Cougars to begin the stretch toward postseason play. BYU is 7-1 this season at home with an attendance average of 2,279, which ranks eighth in the nation. The Cougars began their home season hosting a Cougar women's volleyball record 4,050 fans in their win over No. 4 Stanford. BYU fans broke that record on Sept. 29 as 4,455 Cougar faithful packed the Smith Fieldhouse to see the Cougars take on in-state rival and 18th-ranked Utah. BYU is now 456-82 (.849) all-time at home and 17-1 on Elaine Michaelis Court over the last two years.
The Rebels are 14-6 so far this season including a 5-3 mark in MWC play through the first half, good enough for fourth place. UNLV is led by junior outside hitter Maria Aladjova, who is sixth in the league in kills per game at 3.77. Junior libero Jada Walker averages 5.04 digs per game, second in the league, to help the Rebels lead the MWC in that category with 19.50 dpg. Junior middle blocker Lauren Miramontes aids the UNLV defense with 1.21 blocks per game, seventh in the league. As a team, the Rebels hit .195 while allowing opponents a .168 attack efficiency. BYU swept the Rebels at UNLV in the first meeting between the two teams this season and is 19-2 all-time against UNLV.
The Aztecs are 8-12 so far this season and 2-6 in the Mountain West Conference. SDSU has three players ranked in the top 10 of the MWC in kills as all three average more than 3.0 kills per game led by Melanie Greene at 3.77. Junior libero Aime Cordeiro, who was named All-MWC last season, leads the league in digs at 5.55 per game. As a team, the Aztecs hit .206 while allowing opponents to hit .222. BYU beat SDSU in four games in the first meeting between the two teams this season and owns a 33-15 all-time record in the series.
Fans of BYU women's volleyball can catch all the action of this weekend's match via live stats or a live Internet video stream available to all BYU Cougars All-Access and/or CSTV XXL subscribers. Links for both can be found by going to the Schedule page of the BYU women's volleyball homepage at www.byucougars.com.