Puikkonen Triple-Double Carries BYU to MWC Finals | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Puikkonen Triple-Double Carries BYU to MWC Finals

Cougars Top Utes for Second Time this Season, Face No.4 CSU for MWC Title

FORT COLLINS -- Topping Thursday's record-setting performance, BYU All-American Nina Puikkonen recorded a triple-double Friday while leading the 13th-ranked Cougars to a 3-1 win over No. 19 Utah. With the win, BYU earned its fifth consecutive appearance in the conference tournament finals.

The Cougars, who played in three straight Western Athletic Conference finals and last year's inaugural MWC title match, improved their record to 22-6 with their second win in three tries against Utah this year. Good defense and a dominating block were the catalysts for the Cougars. BYU averaged 18 digs per game and set a new MWC record with 24.5 blocks -- third most on BYU's all-time list -- while earning the 16-14, 8-15, 15-8, 15-8 victory.

"We went to our strengths and did what we needed to do to be successful," BYU coach Elaine Michaelis said. "I was very pleased with our defense and we served well enough to get our block in place. Offensively, we didn't have our best night but when we were able to pass well and get in our system they had a hard time stopping us, especially Nina (Puikkonen)."

Puikkonen had 24 kills, 14 digs and equaled her season-best 13 blocks, which she achieved Thursday against Wyoming. The triple-double was the third of her career and second of the season -- both against the Utes. She hit a match-high .422 attack percentage with only five errors in 45 attempts.

BYU's Karina Puikkonen tossed up 46 assists and recorded her fourth double-double of the year with 10 digs while Jackie Bundy also contributed her fourth double-double performance of the season with 10 kills and 11 digs. She added eight blocks while Sunny Tonga had a career-high nine stops above the net and Kalani Tonga had a team-best 16 digs with nine kills. Contributing 12 kills, Melissa Layton twice knocked Utah's Jen Snow-Richards to the ground with overpowering kills.

Scoring runs were abundant in game one. BYU opened with four straight points and then came back with five more after a Utah four-point run to take a 9-4 lead. The Utes came back with four more counters, but the Cougars looked ready to take the game after responding with another four-point rally to take a 13-8 advantage. Utah, however, scored six straight to take the advantage at 14-13 to set up a sideout battle for the game.

BYU was finally able to muster the final three points and, after five-game points, claimed game one, 16-14. BYU won the final three points with its block, with Sunny Tonga getting two blocks between one by Layton. Tonga had four blocks in the game and Nina Puikkonen had five blocks and five kills as the Cougars tallied an amazing 11 team blocks in the game.

The run of points in game one turned into the run of games as the Utes easily took game two and the Cougars returned the favor in the third contest. Utah jumped out to 14-5 lead in game two before the Cougars put up some resistance. After three Cougar points, the Utes had three game-point opportunities before earning the win at 15-8. MWC Freshman of the Year Kim Turner, who had three kills in six attempts, led the Utes.

The Cougars turned the momentum quickly by scoring 13 of the first 14 points in game three on their way to a 15-8 win. Nina Puikkonen had eight kills in the game as BYU hit an efficient .375 with 17 kills and only two errors in 40 attempts.

The decisive fourth game looked to be going Utah's way as the Utes took an early 6-0 lead, but BYU allowed only two more Ute points the rest of the way and scored 10 straight times to finish the match with a 15-8 win. After Layton knocked Snow-Richards backward with a kill down the line, Nina Puikkonen took the honors with her 24th kill of the match to seal the win.

The match surprisingly marked the first time the two rival schools have met in the conference tournament since the first WAC Tournament in 1996. Overall, BYU is now 6-0 against Utah on a neutral court and leads the all-time series 60-7. Utah falls to 20-7 on the year.

The Cougars now face the tournament's top seed and host school, Colorado State, in the MWC title match Saturday at 4 p.m. The match will be tape-delayed on KSL-TV, channel 5, at 11 p.m. Colorado State, ranked fourth in the nation with a 29-2 record, defeated fourth-seeded San Diego State Friday, 3-0. A rematch of last year's MWC title contest won by Colorado State in Provo, the Cougars and Rams split the season series this year, each winning at home.

"We're ready for (Saturday's match)," Puikkonen said. "We're just excited."

Volleyball Box Score

University of Utah vs BYU Cougars (Nov 17, 2000 at Fort Collins, Colo.)

University of Utah | ATTACK |SET| SERVE |SRV|DEF| BLOCK |GEN

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

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

4 SNOW-RICHARDS, Jen.. 4| 12 7 30 .167| 5| 1 3| 0| 10| 0 2 0| 0

8 TURKOVA, Lucie...... 4| 5 3 22 .091| 45| 1 0| 0| 12| 1 2 1| 0

9 URBANOVA, Lenka..... 4| 11 8 35 .086| 1| 2 2| 1| 20| 0 0 0| 0

12 ELLETT, Katrena..... 3| 6 9 33 -.091| 1| 3 1| 0| 6| 0 0 0| 0

13 GEDDES, Alisa....... 4| 0 1 2 -.500| 1| 0 0| 1| 10| 0 0 0| 0

15 TURNER, Kim......... 4| 15 6 42 .214| 1| 0 0| 0| 3| 2 3 0| 0

2 MORRILL, Jackie..... 3| 0 0 0 .000| 1| 0 0| 0| 3| 0 0 0| 0

3 STILSON, McKelle.... 4| 10 3 23 .304| 0| 0 0| 0| 1| 1 1 1| 0

14 BARTON, Brooke...... 4| 0 1 1-1.000| 1| 0 1| 0| 9| 0 0 0| 0

16 BRADLEY-DRAKE, A.... 2| 2 5 12 -.250| 0| 1 2| 0| 3| 1 0 0| 0

TEAM................ | | | | 1| | |

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Totals.............. 4| 61 43 200 .090| 56| 8 9| 3| 77| 5 8 2| 0

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 9.0

Game K E TA Pct

1 19 16 68 .044 GAME SCORES 1 2 3 4 TEAM RECORDS

2 12 8 36 .111 University of Utah.. 14 15 8 8 20-7, 10-4 MWC

3 12 7 44 .114 BYU Cougars......... 16 8 15 15 22-6, 12-2 MWC

4 18 12 52 .115

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| 3 3 17 .000| 46| 0 2| 0| 10| 1 4 0| 0

9 PUIKKONEN, Nina..... 4| 24 5 45 .422| 0| 0 2| 0| 14| 2 11 1| 0

10 BUNDY, Jackie....... 4| 10 8 33 .061| 3| 1 3| 3| 11| 1 7 1| 0

12 LAYTON, Melissa..... 4| 12 5 29 .241| 0| 1 2| 0| 5| 1 3 1| 0

14 TONGA, Kalani....... 4| 9 3 29 .207| 1| 0 0| 1| 16| 0 3 0| 0

15 TONGA, Sunny........ 4| 7 6 34 .029| 5| 0 1| 2| 7| 1 8 0| 0

2 WHITTAKER, Natalie.. 3| 0 0 1 .000| 2| 0 0| 0| 8| 0 0 0| 0

3 CRABBE, Uila........ 1| 0 0 0 .000| 1| 1 0| 0| 1| 0 1 0| 0

BYU Cougar 2000 Team | | | | 2| | |

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

Totals.............. 4| 65 30 188 .186| 58| 3 10| 8| 72| 6 37 3| 0

TEAM ATTACK PER GAME TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 24.5

Game K E TA Pct

1 19 11 58 .138 Site: Fort Collins, Colo. (Moby Arena)

2 10 9 41 .024 Date: Nov 17, 2000 Attend: 522 Time: 2:10

3 17 2 40 .375 Referees:

4 19 8 49 .224 Semifinal Match of the McLeodUSA Mountain West

Conference Volleyball Championship