The No. 13 blocking team in the nation, with 3.14 blocks per game, BYU will be led by Carrie Bowers (8) and Karina Puikkonen who average 1.35 and 1.11 bpg, respectively, as the Cougars attempt to stuff Wyoming and Colorado State this weekend. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- In preparation for the Mountain West Conference Women's Volleyball Championship, BYU will close out its MWC schedule as it hosts Wyoming Friday and Colorado State Saturday. Both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse and the Cougars and Cowgirls match will be broadcast on BYU-Radio.
Plagued by an injury-filled season BYU lost a close four-game match to No. 21 Utah last week. With April Varner still hobbled by a severely sprained ankle, Lindsey Metcalf and Carrie Bowers still ailing from a sprained ankle and feet stress fractures, respectively, the Cougars continue their injury-themed season as they host the Cowgirls and MWC-leading Rams this weekend.
With Varner, the Cougars' top offensive force out, true freshman Kim Wilson has developed into a consistent attacker. Wilson has led the Cougars in kills in five of the past seven matches averaging 3.64 kills per game during that stretch, more than doubling the 1.66 kpg she averaged in the first 15 matches of the season.
Junior middle blocker Laura Nielsen continues to be effective and is tied for third in the MWC with a .333 hitting percentage while averaging 2.48 kpg.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cougar block remains a team strength as they stand third in the MWC with 2.80 bpg. Individually Neilsen is second in the MWC with 1.41 bpg and Lindsey Metcalf is fourth with 1.36 bpg. Nationally the Cougars are the No. 13 blocking team with 3.14 bpg.
Junior setter and two-time all-MWC Karina Puikkonen continued to display her all-around skills as she tossed up 46 assists, had 12 digs, five blocks and eight kills while hitting a match-high .500 against Utah.
WYOMING (20-8, 5-7 MWC)
First-year head coach Jim Barnes took over a team that returned four starters, including Sara Maytorena who has twice been named MWC Player of the Week this season.
The Cowgirls have won 20 matches for the sixth time in their 31 history, and first time since 1989 (24-7). After starting the year 15-2, Wyoming is 5-6 in its last 11 matches.
BYU is 51-3 all-time vs. Wyoming with a 25-1 record against the Cowgirls at home. BYU currently rides a 26-match winning streak against Wyoming and have swept 12 of the past 13 matches against the Cowgirls. The Cougars won a five-game match at Wyoming, Oct. 19.
COLORADO STATE (18-8, 10-2)
A team that returned only two starters, Colorado State is the current MWC leader by one match over Utah and San Diego State. BYU and SDSU are the only teams to defeat CSU in MWC play this season.
In MWC play, the Rams lead in four key offensive categories; hitting percentage (.257), assists (14.82), kills (15.89) and service aces (1.98).
BYU is 43-12-1 all-time vs. Colorado State, including a 22-4 mark at home. After reeling off an 18-match winning streak against the Rams between 1988 and 1997, the Cougars are 4-6 against the Rams in the 10 matches since. In their last meeting, the Cougars defeated the Rams at the Moby for the fist regular season win by a conference opponent since 1997, a streak of 38 matches.
COUGARS IN UPCOMING WEEKS
BYU will travel to Fort Collins, Colo., to play in the MWC Tournament, Nov. 21-23. The Cougars close out their regular season schedule with matches against No. 3 Hawai'i, Nov. 26, and No. 16 Arizona, Nov. 29.
BYU-Radio is available on the Dish Network, extended package (channel 980) and online through the scheudule link on the BYU women's volleyball homepage.