Puikkonen Leads Cougars to MWC Tournament Victory | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Puikkonen Leads Cougars to MWC Tournament Victory

Cougars Face Utes Friday in Semifinals

FORT COLLINS -- Setting a new Mountain West Conference Tournament record for blocks, BYU junior All-American Nina Puikkonen led the No. 2-seeded Cougars to a 15-6, 15-6, 7-15, 15-5 victory over No. 7-seed Wyoming Thursday in the first round of the MWC Volleyball Championship in Fort Collins, Colo.

Recording a season-high 13 total blocks, Puikkonen smashed both the MWC Tournament four-game mark of eight blocks and the overall record of 10 blocks. The three-time all-conference middle blocker also put down a match-high 14 kills for her team-best seventh double-double of the year. Sophomore Sunny Tonga hit a match-best .476 attack percentage with 12 kills while senior Melissa Layton added 10 kills and 10 digs -- her second double-double of the season.

Junior Kalani Tonga added a match-high 11 digs and nine kills for the Cougars while freshman Karina Puikkonen had the second-highest assist total in a MWC Tournament four-game match with 44.

"Nina is an All-American and continues to prove why," BYU coach Elaine Michaelis said. "I thought Wyoming was really improved since the last time we played them this year. I thought we saw both the good and bad side of the Cougars today."

The 13th-ranked Cougars jumped out to a 10-3 lead in game one before the Cowgirls managed a small run to get within six points at 12-6. A straight-down kill in the middle by Nina Puikkonen, her third of the game, put the momentum back on the Cougar side of the court as BYU scored three consecutive points to finish out the game at 15-6. Sunny Tonga led the Cougars with four kills and a .571 hitting percentage in game one as BYU attacked at an efficient .333 percentage while Wyoming had as many errors as kills.

BYU's late momentum in game one carried over to the second game as the Cougars tallied seven straight points before Wyoming could get on the scoreboard. After increasing the lead to 9-1, BYU met more resistance from the Cowgirls while taking their advantage to the brink of a game-two win at 14-6. The teams traded sideouts through five BYU match points before the Cougars finally put down the kill on their sixth try. Nina Puikkonen led the way for BYU in game two with three kills and four blocks.

Wyoming came out confidently after the break, scoring three quick points to open game three. Two consecutive Kalani Tonga kills helped the Cougars fight back to a 6-6 tie, but the Cowgirls responded with an 8-0 run that gave them a 14-6 advantage. Wyoming freshman Melissa Robinett sealed the game at 15-7 with a kill down the middle of the Cougar defense. The Cowgirls hit .605 in the game with 25 kills, more than triple their total from the first two games combined.

"Coming out of the break (between games two and three), we didn't get back into it mentally or physically," Michaelis said. "Give Wyoming credit. They made some adjustments. They hurt us early with their short serves and they attacked the middle well. In the fourth game, we served well and our passing came back."

Showing more energy in the fourth game, the Cougars scored nine of the last 10 points for a 15-5 win capped by a Kalani Tonga kill for the match. BYU hit .279 for the match while holding Wyoming to a .095 percentage. The Cougars out blocked Wyoming 16-7 and had four more digs (42-38).

Falling to 10-22 overall, Wyoming was led by freshman Michele Rauter and senior Melody Friehauf with 13 and 12 kills, respectively.

BYU improved to 21-6 overall and prepares to face rival Utah Friday in a semifinal match. Friday's match will be broadcast on KBYU-TV, channel 11, at 4 p.m. The third-seeded Utes advanced Thursday after defeating No. 6-seed UNLV, 3-1.

Volleyball Box Score

Wyoming vs BYU Cougars (Nov 16, 2000 at Fort Collins, Colo.)

Wyoming | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE

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3 BROWN, Katy......... 4| 1 1 3 .000| 10| 2 1| 0| 1| 0 0 0| 1

4 RAUTER, Michele..... 4| 13 7 32 .188| 2| 0 4| 2| 10| 0 2 1| 0

5 BURKE, Jamie........ 4| 9 5 24 .167| 0| 0 3| 1| 10| 0 1 0| 0

7 PATRICK, Shannon.... 4| 0 0 1 .000| 1| 1 0| 0| 5| 0 0 0| 0

8 BRAGG, Barbie....... 4| 1 5 13 -.308| 0| 0 1| 0| 1| 0 1 0| 0

16 LAU, Rachel......... 4| 3 4 15 -.067| 1| 0 1| 0| 4| 1 2 0| 0

2 FRIEHAUF, Melody.... 4| 12 7 23 .217| 0| 0 1| 0| 0| 1 3 0| 0

6 ROBINETT, Melissa... 3| 6 2 13 .308| 5| 0 1| 0| 3| 0 1 0| 0

10 SNYDER, Stefanie.... 4| 0 0 0 .000| 18| 1 0| 0| 4| 0 0 0| 1

15 SIPLON, Jansen...... 2| 0 2 2-1.000| 0| 0 0| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0

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Totals.............. 4| 45 33 126 .095| 37| 4 12| 3| 38| 2 10 1| 2

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 7.0

Game K E TA Pct

1 8 8 31 .000 GAME SCORES 1 2 3 4 TEAM RECORDS

2 8 12 35 -.114 Wyoming............. 6 6 15 5 10-22 (2-12 MWC)

3 25 2 38 .605 BYU Cougars......... 15 15 7 15 21-6 (12-2 MWC)

4 4 11 22 -.318

BYU Cougars | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

## Name GP| K E TA PCT| A| SA SE| RE|DIG|BS BA BE|BHE

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

5 PUIKKONEN, Karina... 4| 2 1 7 .143| 44| 1 0| 0| 5| 1 5 0| 2

9 PUIKKONEN, Nina..... 4| 14 5 29 .310| 0| 0 1| 0| 4| 1 12 1| 0

10 BUNDY, Jackie....... 4| 9 6 20 .150| 2| 0 3| 0| 7| 0 1 0| 0

12 LAYTON, Melissa..... 4| 10 3 24 .292| 0| 0 4| 0| 10| 1 2 0| 0

14 TONGA, Kalani....... 4| 9 5 21 .190| 2| 0 0| 1| 11| 0 4 0| 0

15 TONGA, Sunny........ 4| 12 2 21 .476| 3| 2 4| 2| 5| 0 2 1| 0

2 WHITTAKER, Natalie.. 2| 0 0 0 .000| 0| 0 1| 0| 0| 0 0 0| 0

BYU Cougar 2000 Team | | | | 1| | |

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Totals.............. 4| 56 22 122 .279| 51| 3 13| 4| 42| 3 26 2| 2

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 16.0

Game K E TA Pct

1 14 4 30 .333 Site: Fort Collins, Colo. (Moby Arena)

2 11 7 27 .148 Date: Nov 16, 2000 Attend: 472 Time: 1:40

3 22 6 46 .348 Referees: Patsy Malta, Eric Asami

4 9 5 19 .211 Match #1 of McLeodUSA Mountain West Conference

Volleyball Championship