Weekly Release #11 - Friday Night Clash for Cougars and Utes

With 27 total blocks in sweeps over New Mexico and Air Force, BYU is now the No. 11 blocking team in the nation averaging 3.09 blocks per game. The Cougars will face Utah Friday night at 7 p.m. in a battle for second place in the MWC. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- In its lone match of the week, the BYU women's volleyball team will face instate rival Utah in a showdown that will help determine seeding for the Mountain West Conference Tournament in two weeks. The clash will be played at Crimson Court on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City at 7 p.m.

Crimson Court is located in the basement of the HYPER building adjacent to the Huntsman Center. Tickets are sold at the door after 6:00 p.m. on Friday, and are $5 for adults and $4 for youth.

The third-place Cougars (18-6) are 8-3 in the MWC and stand one game behind the Utes (15-7, 9-2). Utah won the previous meeting between the two teams on Oct. 10, 3-1 in Provo.

"As the season progresses each match grows in importance," BYU coach Karen Lamb said. "It's imperative for us to keep getting better, like we have been, and execute on the court. Utah is an experienced and talented team, but our goal is still the same -- to win."

BYU is coming off a pair of wins last week over New Mexico and Air Force. The Cougars hit over .300 in all six games of the two sweeps, and is hitting .260 as a team, tops among teams in the MWC.

Defensively, the Cougars are featuring a block that is improving with each passing week. BYU put up 27 team blocks last week and are now averaging 3.09 blocks per game, ranking it No. 11 in the nation.

Senior libero Uila Crabbe is entrenching herself as the top libero in the conference with a MWC-high 3.52 digs per game. She needs six digs to become the sixth player in BYU history to hit the 1,000-dig mark.

The Cougars have demonstrated to be the most offensively balanced team in the MWC with four players ranking among the top 10 in hitting percentage. The next closest team has two. Also, BYU has seven players with 100 or more kills on the season -- best in the MWC.

Utah is led by senior middle blocker Kim Turner, who is coming off her third MWC Player of the Week award. Turner averages 3.95 kills, 2.25 digs and 1.53 blocks per game.

BYU leads the series between the two teams, 61-13. The Utes are also coming off sweeps of New Mexico and Air Force.

"This is a critical time for our team," Lamb said. "The season has seemed to zip by, but we have to keep focused on staying consistent and being aggressive."

Weekly Notes:

Week #10 in Review ...

BYU swept both of its matches last week against New Mexico and Air Force, and was the only team in the MWC to hit over .300 in all of its games, and also the only conference team to hit over .300 in each match. The Cougars also limited the Lobos and Falcons to under .200 hitting percentages.

This Week

BYU will travel to play MWC and instate rival Utah on Friday at 7 p.m. The match will be played at Crimson Court on the campus of the University of Utah. At 8-3 in MWC play, BYU currently sits in third place, one game behind the Utes. There will be a live broadcast of the match that can be accessed through the schedules link on the BYU women's volleyball homepage at www.byucougars.com or by visiting www.utahutes.com.

Kearl in Rotation

Junior defensive specialist Lindsey Kearl has played in the Cougars last six matches and has been effective as a serving and defensive specialist. Prior to her current playing time, Kearl had played only briefly against Utah Valley State on Sept. 19.

Serving a Storm

Freshman middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock matched her career high with five service aces against Air Force on Saturday. At the most critical point in the match, she led the Cougars on one of its most impressive runs of the season. Down 8-16 in the first game, she led the Cougars on a decisive 9-0 run that set the tone for the match.

Blocking Brawn

The Cougars collected 27 blocks in six games for a 4.50 blocks per game average. The Cougars have steadily improved as the season has progressed and are now the No. 11 national and No. 2 conference blocking team averaging 3.09 blocks per game.

Consistent and Balanced Cougars

BYU is the only team in the MWC to have four players ranked in top 10 hitting percentage (2-Lindsy Hartsock .373; 3-Lexi Brown .348; 5-Laura Nielsen .310; and 10-Carrie Bowers .298). No other team has more than two. BYU also continues to use a balanced attack as seven different Cougars have 100-plus kills this season and a seventh has 93. BYU is the only MWC team that has seven players with 93 or more kills this year.

Not a Middling Bunch

All three middle blockers on the BYU active roster are hitting over .300 on the year (Lindsy Hartsock .368; Lexi Brown .348; and Laura Nielsen .329). They are hitting a collective .345 (334-90-708).

Hartsock Harmony

Freshman middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock tied a career-high with five service aces against Air Force, and remains the leading candidate for MWC Freshman of the Year honors. Hartsock continues to impress this season as she is the only freshman in the MWC to rank in the top five of any statistical category. She is currently second in hitting percentage (.368), third in blocks per game (1.27) and fifth in service aces per game (0.39).

Metcalf Blocking

Junior Lindsey Metcalf is one of the top blocking outside hitters in the MWC. On Saturday against Air Force she collected seven blocks, including a career-high four solo blocks. She also tied for the team lead with four blocks the previous night against New Mexico.

Highlight Player from Last Week -- The Brown Bomber

As BYU works to diversify its attack and add balance, sophomore middle blocker Lexi Brown has been inserted into the line-up and has seen increasing playing time. She started both matches, sweeps over New Mexico and Air Force, and played in every game this past weekend. Brown became the focal point of the attack and she broke through in leading the team offensively. After tearing her ACL at the beginning of 2002, she is almost back to her previous form.

Brown led the team in kills against both New Mexico and Air Force, the first two times she has led the team in kills this season. She was the only BYU player to hit double-digit kills in each match. Brown's 25 kills almost doubled that of the next highest Cougar, Lindsey Metcalf, who tallied 14. She only committed three attack errors in the two matches, two against New Mexico and one against Air Force.

This past weekend marked the first time in Brown's career that she tallied double-digit kills in consecutive BYU matches. Previously, Brown had recorded four double-digit kill outings in her career, three in 2003 and one in 2002. Brown led the Cougars with 46 attack attempts on the week, the first time a middle blocker has led the team in attempts in any week this season. Brown is second on the Cougars with a .348 attack percentage, which ranks third in the MWC.

Brown tied for the team lead in blocks on both nights with four against New Mexico and seven against Air Force. Her seven blocks against the Falcons matched her season-high, which was also recorded against Air Force on Oct. 3. Brown is ninth in the MWC with a 1.13 blocks per game average.

In last week's play, Brown exceeded her season averages in kills, digs and blocks per game.

BYU Attendance

BYU is ranked 24th nationally in average attendance. The Cougars average 1,323 fans per match at the Smith Fieldhouse, second in the Mountain West Conference (Colorado State -- 1,390) BYU has played at home 12 times this season, and 10 matches have seen crowds of over 1,000. In the other two matches, there was a scheduling overlap with BYU home football games.

By the Numbers

BYU is a perfect 18-0 this season when it has a higher attack percentage than its opponent and is 15-1 when it has more team blocks than its opponent.

Injury Update

It is relatively quiet on the injury front for the Cougars. Other than various minor bumps and bruises there is nothing serious.

Home Sweet Home

With the conclusion of its MWC home schedule, BYU stands 10-2 at home in the Smith Fieldhouse. It is in stark contrast to 2002, and the Cougars' have more than doubled their home wins from last season when they went 4-12 at home. The Cougars still have two home matches remaining this season on Thanksgiving week against Utah State on Nov. 25 and Eastern Michigan on Nov. 28.

Turnaround Cougars

At this time last year, BYU had won 11 matches. With 18 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.

Poll Position

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.

Iron Women

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.

Milestone Manner

Sophomore setter Lauren Richards collected 34 assists against Air Force on Saturday to put her over the 1,000-assist mark at 1,007, to mark the first milestone she has hurdled in her young career.yyyyy´

Crabbe Watch

Uila Crabbe put up 19 digs over the weekend to push her career total to 994. She needs six digs to become the sixth BYU player to hit the 1,000-dig mark. She is sixth all-time on the BYU career digs list and needs 59 digs to surpass Caroline Bower (1,052) to move into fifth place.yyyyy´

Division I All-Time Wins Leaders

UCLA 958

SMS 923

BYU 919

Long Beach State 895

Nebraska 895

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