Weekly Release #11 -- BYU to Host No. 22 Utah in a Battle of Surging Teams

Junior middle blocker Carrie Bowers is expected to be back in the lineup when BYU hosts No. 22 Utah Friday night. Bowers missed matches against New Mexico and Air Force to rest two stress fractures she has in her feet. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Coming off its most offensively dominating week of the season with wins over New Mexico and Air Force, the BYU women's volleyball team will host No. 22 Utah in a Mountain West Conference and instate showdown Friday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars' lone match this week will be televised on KBYU and broadcast on the radio through BYU-Radio.

Friday night's match is billed as Girl Scout, Cougar Club and Ward Night where each group will receive special discounts. In a double-bill the BYU men's volleyball team will have its official blue-white scrimmage immediately following the BYU-Utah match.

BYU (11-14, 6-5 MWC) has three home conference matches against Utah, Wyoming and Colorado State remaining before the MWC Tournament Nov. 21-23.

In orchestrating the precise BYU attack last week, junior setter Karina Puikkonen garnered MWC Player of the Week honors. Puikkonen led the team to a .363 hitting percentage and five different BYU players had 20 kills or more with four of those five hitting over .300. On the week she averaged 14.57 assists per game, 1.86 kpg, 1.43 dpg and 2.00 bpg while averaging .667 (13-1-18).

A team victimized by injury this year, starting middle blocker Carrie Bowers was rested last week to alleviate the pain of two stress fractures in her feet. With outside hitter April Varner still out with a severely sprained ankle, BYU was missing its top offensive and defensive players.

Erin Webb stepped in for Bowers and was a force recording 20 kills (2.86 kpg) and 12 blocks (1.71 bpg) on the week. Her partner in the middle, Laura Nielsen, continues to be a consistently effective player. She currently leads the MWC with a .415 attack percentage and ranks sixth in blocks (1.35). Nielsen had 20 kills and hit .429 against the Lobos and Falcons.

Despite injuries and numerous lineup adjustments, the adjustment by and resurgent play of Puikkonen is factoring into the Cougars' improving play of late. Since starting the season 5-9 in which it was outhit .166 to .192, the Cougars have gone 6-5 (5-2 on the road) dramatically improving their attack and have outhit their opponents .225 to .193 during the stretch. True freshman Kim Wilson been the biggest benefactor of increased playing time and has been on a tear. After hitting -.010 in her first 21 games, Wilson has turned it around to hit .230 and stands second on the team with 3.07 kpg.

UTAH

Utah (19-6, 8-3) is riding a five-match win streak since losing back-to-back matches at Wyoming and Colorado State. The Utes are currently ranked 22nd in the AVCA/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll, and were ranked as high as No. 8 earlier this season. In its previous meeting with BYU, Utah swept the Cougars (Oct. 11) in a closely contested match.

The Cougars are 61-10 all-time versus the Utes, including 30-2 at home. The Utes, though, have taken the last three matches against the Cougars.

Three-time MWC Player of the Week Kim Turner leads the Utes with team highs in kills per game (4.23), hitting percentage (.335) and blocks per game (1.28) in conference play this season. Sylva Strzinkova is second on the team in kills per game (3.85) and digs per game (2.28).

TELEVISION, RADIO AND INTERNET INFORMATION

The match will be televised in Utah on KBYU-TV, channel 11, on the Dish Network (channel 9403), DirectTV PLUS (channel 374) and AT&T Digital Cable in Utah (channel 34). BYU-Radio will also broadcast the match and is available on Dish Network, extended package (channel 980).

A video and audio stream of the match will also be available on the Internet on the BYU women's volleyball homepage at www.byucougars.com.

NEXT WEEK

The Cougars will close out its regular season conference schedule with a pair of matches at the Smith Fieldhouse next week. BYU will face Wyoming, Nov. 15, and Colorado State, Nov. 16. Both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m.

Additional television and radio information:

TO RECIEVE BYU TELEVISION

Dish Network (channel 9403)

DirecTV PLUS (channel 374)

AT&T Digital Cable in Utah (channel 34)

Cox Digital Cable in Arizona (channel 112) and Nevada (channel 384)

All-American Cable System in Mesa, Arizona (channel 97)

Cowley Cable Television in Cowley, Wyoming

Eagle West L.L.C. Cable in Arizona and Nevada

Cable America in Mesa, AZ (channel 97)

Spanish Fork City Cable in Spanish Fork, UT (channel 40)

TO RECEIVE BYU RADIO

Dish Network, extended package (channel 980)

All-American Cable System in Mesa, Arizona (channel 97)

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