Puikkonen Receives Academic Honor

PROVO -- An All-American on the court, BYU middle blocker Nina Puikkonen is also being recognized for her academic excellence.

Puikkonen was recently selected to the Verizon Academic District VIII Women's Volleyball Second Team. She is a repeat honoree, having earned third-team honors a year ago. A zoology major with a 3.44 grade point average, Puikkonen is one of 18 female student-athletes representing 14 different NCAA Division I institutions named to the first, second and third teams.

Puikkonen is the only member of the Mountain West Conference named to the teams. The state of Utah was also represented by Weber State's Stephanie Metcalf and Utah State's Tanya McArthur Birch, who joined Puikkonen among the six-member second team.

A total of 66 eligible student-athletes were nominated on the District VIII ballot. In order to be eligible, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.20 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.0 scale), must be a starter or significant reserve and must be in at least her second season of competition at her current school.

Puikkonen is a four-time Cougar Club Scholar Athlete and has earned Mountain West Conference Academic honors in both of the league's first two seasons. On the court, she is a three-time All-American and two-time AVCA National Player of the Week recipient.

The six first-team members of District VIII are now eligible for selection to the Academic All-America team. The All-America team will be announced on Dec. 10.

2001 Verizon Academic All-District VIII Women's Volleyball Teams

FIRST TEAM

Jami Coughlin, Arizona State, Sr., 4.00 GPA, Special Education

Robyn Felder, E. Washington, Sr., 3.91 GPA, Health & Fitness

Lauren Fendrick, UCLA, Jr., 3.938 GPA, Pre-Cognitive Science

Keri Nishimoto, Long Beach State, Sr., 3.93 GPA, Computer Science

Kristin O'Halloran, Cal Poly, Jr., 3.98 GPA, General Engineering

Gina Schmidt, Oregon State, Sr., 4.00 GPA, Business

SECOND TEAM

Paige Benjamin, Washington, Jr., 3.66 GPA, Accounting

Tayyiba Haneef, Long Beach State, Sr., 3.20 GPA, Communications

Tanya McArthur Birch, Utah State, Sr., 4.00 GPA, Health, PE & Recreation

Stephanie Metcalf, Weber State, Jr., 3.82 GPA, Lifestyle Management

Carly O'Halloran, Cal Poly, Jr., 3.88 GPA, Liberal Studies

Nina Puikkonen, BYU, Sr., 3.44 GPA, Zoology

THIRD TEAM

Sydney Chute, Oregon, Jr., 3.66 GPA, English

Joy Deatherage, Idaho State, Sr., 3.71 GPA, Radiological Sciences

Julia Leddy, Arizona State, Jr., 3.82 GPA, Secondary Education

Sara McGee, Stanford, So., 3.69 GPA, Undeclared

Katrina Nelson, Oregon State, Jr., 3.60 GPA, Pre-Education

Jill Talbot, Arizona, Sr., 3.48 GPA, Sociology