Senior rightside hitter Carrie Bowers and freshman middle blocker Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock have buoyed BYU's block this year. BYU is a top-20 national blocking team averaging 2.98 bpg. The Cougars host Air Force and New Mexico this weekend. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Playing its final Mountain West Conference home matches of the season, the BYU women's volleyball team will host New Mexico Friday at 7 p.m. and Air Force Saturday at 5 p.m.
In a Halloween promotion, Friday night's match against the Lobos will feature a costume contest and the players will operate trick-or-treat booths for children at the conclusion of play.
Prior to Saturday's match against the Falcons, the team will conduct a free mini skills clinic for all registered fan club members in the Smith Fieldhouse at 1-2:30 p.m.
BYU (16-6 overall and 6-3 in the MWC) currently stands third in the conference, a game behind Utah, and is coming off a split of its Front Range trip last week.
"This week is an important week for us," BYU coach Karen Lamb said. "We have to keep our focus and keep consistently improving. Air Force and New Mexico are gritty teams that can pose problems for us if we're not ready."
Freshman middle blocker Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock led BYU last week hitting at a .571 clip and putting up a team-high 12 blocks, including 10 blocks against Wyoming. She is currently second in the MWC with a .373 hitting percentage and is third averaging 1.30 blocks per game.
Senior libero Uila Crabbe continues to lead the MWC in digs with 291 (3.55 digs per game), and BYU also leads the conference with 14.17 dpg.
UNM (3-19, 0-8) is in the midst of one of its worst seasons in school history. The Lobos have only gone winless in conference play once (1979) and have recorded double-digit wins in 20 of the past 23 seasons. So far in 2003, UNM has lost 16 consecutive matches and the Lobos have been swept in all eight of their MWC match-ups.
Air Force (13-9, 3-5) has only had one winning season in Penny Lucas-White's seven years as head coach of the program, but is having one of its most successful seasons in Division I volleyball. Senior outside hitter Delavane Diaz continues to lead the MWC averaging 5.03 kills per game.
"The most important things for us this weekend are to not look ahead and execute on the court," Lamb said. "The season has zipped by and we need to take things match-by-match as we approach the end of conference play."
Week #9 in Review ...
BYU split its matches last week on its annual Front Range trip. On Friday, the Cougars dropped the first game before picking things up and sweeping the next three for a four-game win over Wyoming. The next night, BYU traveled to Colorado State and got off the a slow start, before getting hot in the third game, but it was too little too late as the Rams swept the Cougars. CSU handed BYU its first conference road loss of the season, dropping the Cougars to 3-1 in MWC road action.
BYU will play its final MWC home matches this weekend when it hosts New Mexico on Friday at 7 p.m. and Air Force on Saturday at 5 p.m. Saturday's match against the Falcons was originally scheduled for 7 p.m., but was moved up to avoid a direct conflict with the BYU vs. Utah women's soccer game.
Uila Crabbe put up 23 digs over the weekend to push her career total to 975. She is sixth all-time on the BYU career digs list and needs 78 digs to surpass Caroline Bower (1,052) to move into fifth place.
BYU split its two matches last week, but Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock separately displayed her defensive and offensive skills against Wyoming and CSU, respectively. Against the Cowgirls, Lewis-Hartsock had the second-best blocking effort of her career with 10 blocks. The next night against the No. 18-ranked Rams, she tallied eight kills on ten swings for an .800 hitting percentage against the stingiest defense in the Mountain West Conference.
Lewis-Hartsock was by far and away BYU's most efficient attacker. She compiled a .571 hitting percentage in the two matches, more than doubling the next best Cougar (Carrie Bowers - .239). She posted match highs in each of the two BYU contests: .364 against Wyoming and .800 against CSU.
Despite ranking seventh on the team with 21 total attempts in the two matches, Lewis-Hartsock made the most of her opportunities and tied for third on the team with 14 total kills. She led the team in blocks on the week with 12. Lewis-Hartsock led the team in blocks against Wyoming and tied for the team lead in blocks against CSU.
On the season, she leads the Cougars with a .373 hitting percentage and 91 total blocks. Of BYU's 22 matches this season, Lewis-Hartsock has led the team in blocks a team-high 10 times. Lewis-Hartsock had more kills and blocks per game, and a higher hitting percentage last week, compared to her averages for the season.
Kearl in Rotation
Since seeing her first consistent action of the season against San Diego State and UNLV (Oct. 17-18), junior Lindsey Kearl traveled on her first road trip with the Cougars this past weekend. Kearl has been effective as a serving and defensive specialist.
Lindsey Metcalf moved into third on the team by posting her fourth double-double of the year against Wyoming. Metcalf recorded 10 kills and 14 digs.
Home Sweet Home
On the year BYU stands 8-2 at home in the Smith Fieldhouse. It is in stark contrast to 2002, and the Cougars' have already doubled their home wins from last season when they went 4-12 at home.
At this time last year, BYU had only won nine matches. With 16 wins entering the week, the Cougars win differential from 2002 to 2003 is seven matches, tying them for the sixth-best turnaround differential in the country and best in the MWC.
Consistent and Balanced Cougars
BYU remains the only team in the MWC to have three players ranked in top 10 hitting percentage (2-Lindsy Hartsock .373; 8-Laura Nielsen .310; and 10-Carrie Bowers .298). BYU continues to use a balanced attack as six different Cougars have 100-plus kills this season and a seventh has 97. BYU is the only MWC team that has seven players with over 95 kills this year.
BYU is the 22nd-ranked team in national average attendance. The Cougars average 1,366 fans per match at the Smith Fieldhouse, second in the Mountain West Conference (Colorado State -- 1,390) BYU has played at home ten times this season, and eight matches have seen crowds of over 1,000. In the other two matches, there was a scheduling overlap with BYU home football games.
With her double-double against UNLV on Oct. 18, setter Lauren Richards now has nine on the season. April Varner and Karina Puikkonen tied for the BYU high last season with eight a piece.
After spending four consecutive weeks receiving votes in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll, BYU fell out of the polls as a listed team Oct. 13. The Cougars peaked as they were listed No. 26 on Sept. 26. Since the beginning of the AVCA Coaches Top 20 Poll in 1982, BYU has been ranked a total of 252 weeks, which ranks the Cougars eighth in NCAA history.
Cougar Block; Top-20 Nationally
With a block that's improving with each passing week, the Cougars moved up into the top-20 in national blocking with a 2.98 blocks per game average. The Cougars are 6-1 vs. the MWC when outblocking the opponent and lead in MWC play with 3.05 blocks per game as a team.
By the Numbers
BYU is a perfect 16-0 this season when it has a higher attack percentage than its opponent and is 12-1 when it has more digs and aces than its opponent.
It is relatively quiet on the injury front for the Cougars. Other than various minor bumps and bruises there is nothing serious.
Carrie Bowers, Lauren Richards and Uila Crabbe are the only Cougars to play in every game this season, as BYU continues to search for its most effective lineup.
Redshirts for 2003
Of BYU's eight incoming true freshman, seven are slated to redshirt the 2003 season. They are: Erica Lott, Catherine Parker, Lindsey Evans, Stacie Powell, Amy Hulse, Annie Kemp and Kimberly Dabo.
Roster of Champions
After an unprecedented year in which nine of the 16 players on the roster sustained injury, BYU made it a mandate to recruit additional talent. While at times last year the Cougars didn't have enough players to scrimmage, with the current 21 players on the roster, BYU is not only ensured of having enough players to practice, but the team's competitive level of play in practice has risen.
Young and Experienced
Of the Cougars' nine returning letterwinners, eight have starting experience. Of those eight, all eight have the potential to be All-MWC team selections with playing time.