COLORADO SPRINGS -- BYU junior middle blocker Nina Puikkonen was named the Mountain West Conference Volleyball Player of the Week Monday, marking the third time this season and fifth time overall she has earned the award.
A native of Murray, Utah, Puikkonen recorded her first career triple-double with 22 kills, 18 digs and 10 blocks in BYU's four-game win over No. 20 Utah Friday (15-5, 12-15, 15-13, 16-14). She hit .326 (22k-7e-46a) vs. the Utes, and totaled a career-high six service aces. Puikkonen has topped 10 kills in 21 of 24 matches this season, including 10 straight. Her 1,153 career kills is No. 8 on the BYU all-time list. The win over Utah was the Cougars' second straight victory over a ranked opponent.
Last year's MWC Player of the Year, Puikkonen ranks second in the conference in blocks per game (1.77) and has a league-best 34 aces this season. She is third in the MWC for hitting percentage (.348) and kills per game (4.11), and has been ranked in the nation's top five all season for blocks per game.
Puikkonen's honor is not only her third this season but the third time in the last four weeks that a Cougar athlete has earned the award. Overall, the weekly conference honor has been awarded to a Cougar four times in 10 weeks this year, with BYU's Sunny Tonga receiving the recognition last week. Puikkonen, a 1999 second-team AVCA All-American, also earned AVCA National Player of the Week honors earlier this season, becoming the second Cougar to win the national award.
The 14th-ranked Cougars, 18-6 overall and 10-2 in the MWC, travel to Air Force and New Mexico this week to close out the regular season conference schedule before heading to the McLeodUSA Mountain West Conference Volleyball Championship Nov. 16-18 in Fort Collins, Colo.
Mountain West Conference Players of the Week:
Sept. 4 -- Courtney Cox, Jr., OH, Colorado State
Sept. 11 -- Nina Puikkonen, Jr., MB, BYU
Sept. 18 -- Delavane Diaz, Fr., OH, Air Force
Sept. 25 -- Angela Knopf, Jr., OH, Colorado State
Oct. 2 -- Allison Peckham, Jr., S, Colorado State
Oct. 9 -- Lucie TurkovÃ¡, Sr., S, Utah
Oct. 16 -- Nina Puikkonen, Jr., MB, BYU
Oct. 23 -- Amy Hallquist, Sr., OH, San Diego State
Oct. 30 -- Sunny Tonga, So., OH, BYU
Nov. 6 -- Nina Puikkonen, Jr., MB, BYU