The No. 20 BYU women's volleyball team is off to a 9-0 start. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Riding a nine-match winning streak, No. 20 BYU will host in-state rival Utah Wednesday night in the Cougars' Mountain West Conference home opener before facing new MWC-member TCU Friday on Elaine Michaelis Court. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.
Wednesday's BYU-Utah matchup will be televised live nationally on BYUTV and locally on KBYU, channel 11. Both matches this week will be broadcast live on BYU Radio, available at BYUradio.org.
BYU (9-0, 2-0 MWC) returns to Provo with the team's best start since 1987 despite playing five of the last six matches on the road. The Cougars have gone to five games in the last four victories, however, including last weekend's league wins over New Mexico and Air Force. BYU has three players averaging more than three kills per game in sophomore outside hitters Chelsea Goodman (3.92 kpg) and Erica Lott (3.6 kpg) and junior middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock (3.46 kpg). Hartsock, the preseason MWC Co-Player of the Year, boasts a league-leading .481 attack efficiency.
"We look forward to facing Utah and TCU this week," BYU coach Jason Watson said. "Utah has a very good team and there is obviously a lot of interest from the fans in that match because of the rivalry. TCU is also off to a good start this year and will come in rested and ready to go on Friday."
The Utes (9-4, 1-1 MWC) took the same road swing as BYU last week, splitting the trip with a five-game setback at New Mexico on Saturday after sweeping Air Force. Led by senior outside hitter Shelly Sommerfeldt (3.49 kills per game), Utah won five straight matches before losing to the Lobos, including a five-game victory over then No. 17 Santa Clara. The Utes (4-2 on the road, 1-2 neutral, 4-0 at home) trail BYU 61-17 in the overall series but own a 10-match victory streak over the Cougars, dating back to 2001.
Friday's match with TCU will be the first-ever MWC contest for the Horned Frogs. Led by junior middle blocker Anna Vaughn (4.06 kills per game), TCU comes to Provo with a 9-4 mark, including a 3-0 win over common BYU opponent Idaho State (Cougars also won in three games). After starting 0-2, TCU won eight straight matches before a four-game loss to then No. 5 Minnesota. The Horned Frogs split last weekend's matches, losing in five games to Winthrop before defeating Grambling State 3-0.
The Cougars own a 4-0 record against TCU, last meeting in 1997 as members of the Western Athletic Conference. TCU is 2-0 on the road, 4-1 at a neutral site, and 3-3 at home this year.