Puikkonen, Smith Earn Volleyball All-America Honors

PROVO, Utah -- Nina Puikkonen and Anna-Lena Smith were named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America Second Team after leading BYU to a 28-5 record and ninth-place tie in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougar standouts were two of three Mountain West Conference volleyball players selected to the team announced Dec. 14.

BYU sophomore middle blocker Nina Puikkonen claimed her first AVCA All-America selection. Puikkonen was chosen to the second team after helping the Cougars reach the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the fourth straight year. BYU claimed the inaugural Mountain West Conference regular-season title and finished as runner-up at the conference championship tournament. Named the MWC Player of the Year, to the AVCA All-District VII team, and to the MWC all-tournament team, Puikkonen led the league in hitting percentage (.373) as well as blocks (1.85) and kills (4.29) per game.

Puikkonen, who was one of six middle blockers receiving All-America honors, was third in the nation in blocking and tallied double-figure kills in 30 of BYU's 33 matches this season, including three with 20-plus kills. She collected double figures in blocks five times during the year. Puikkonen already stands fifth on the BYU all-time chart with 434 career blocks after just two seasons.

Repeating second team All-America honors is BYU senior setter Anna-Lena Smith. Also named to the Mountain West Conference First Team and the AVCA District VII squad, Smith was a four-time first-team all-conference selection. She set the Cougars to a .295 team hitting percentage, which ranks sixth in the nation and led the conference. She averaged 12.95 assists per game for 1,425 assists during the season.

Smith, who was one of three setters selected, finished her BYU career as the Cougars' all-time record holder with 5,975 career assists. She also holds BYU records for most assists in a match (89) and best assist average in a season (13.96).

Colorado State senior outside hitter Catie Vagneur also became the first CSU player since 1987 to earn AVCA All-America status. Vagneur was named to the second team after helping the Rams advance to the NCAA Regional Semifinals and post a 30-3 overall record -- the most wins in program history.

Overall, 12 players were selected as second-team members and 12 to the first team. Stanford freshman Logan Tom, who played at Highland High School in Salt Lake City last year, earned first-team honors in her first season with the Cardinal. The All-America selections are made by the AVCA Division I All-America Committee: Katie Weismiller, Indiana; Bonnie Kenny, Massachusetts; Sharon Dingman, Butler; Janice Kruger, Maryland; Beth Launiere, Utah; Jeff Nelson, Texas Tech; Chris Poole, Arkansas; Patti Snyder-Park, Arizona State; Julie Morgan, Illinois State.

1999 AVCA Division I First-Team All-America

Erin Aldrich, Texas, MB, Sr., 6-2, Dallas, Tex.

Heather Bown ', Hawai'i, MB, Sr., 6-3, Yorba Linda, Calif.

Bonnie Bremner '#*, Penn State, S, Sr., 5-9, Lisle, Ill.

Lauren Cacciamani '$, Penn State, MB, Sr., 6-2, Paramus, N.J.

Roberta Gehlke +$, UC Santa Barbara, OH, Sr., 5-10, Huntington Beach, Calif.

Nancy Meendering ', Nebraska, OPP, Jr., 6-1, Hull, Iowa

Elsa Stegemann ', Pacific, OH, Sr., 5-10, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Logan Tom, Stanford, OH, Fr., 6-1, Salt Lake City, Utah

Kerri Walsh '#%, Stanford, OPP, Sr., 6-2, Saratoga, Calif.

Cheryl Weaver, Long Beach State, MB, So., 6-2, Washington, D.C.

Petia Yanchulova ', San Diego, OH, Sr., 5-10, Sofia, Bulgaria

1999 AVCA Division I Second-Team All-America

Nicole Branagh, Minnesota, OH, Jr., 6-1, Orinda, Calif.

Dawn Cady, Kansas State, OH, Sr., 5-10, Marshall, Minn.

Jenny Maastricht, Wisconsin, OPP, Jr., 6-1, Silver Lake, Wis.

Jenny Manz ', Florida, OPP, Sr., 6-0, Orange Park, Fla.

Sarah McFarland, Loyola Marymount, OH, Jr., 6-6, Michigan City, Ind.

Shannon Perry, Northern Iowa, S, Sr., 5-8, Overland Park, Kan.

Kristee Porter, UCLA, OH, So., 5-11, Tyler, Tex.

Nina Puikkonen, Brigham Young, MB, So., 6-3, Murray, Utah

Anna-Lena Smith +, Brigham Young, S, Sr., 5-11, Mesa, Ariz.

Cindy Stern, Clemson, MB, Sr., 6-3, Cincinnati, Ohio

Catie Vagneur, Colorado State, OH, Sr., 5-9, Aspen, Colo.

' Indicates 1998 AVCA First-Team All-America selection

+ Indicates 1998 AVCA Second-Team All-America selection

# Indicates 1997 AVCA First-Team All-America selection

$ Indicates 1997 AVCA Second-Team All-America selection

% Indicates 1996 AVCA First-Team All-America selection

* Indicates 1996 AVCA Second-Team All-America selection