Weekly Release #12 - Cougars on the Prowl for Rebels and Aztecs

Senior libero Uila Crabbe became the sixth Cougar to reach the 1,000 dig milestone last week at Utah. BYU travels to play at UNLV on Friday and at SDSU on Saturday, as Crabbe seeks 43 digs to pass Caroline Bower for fifth all-time at BYU. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Set to engage in its final Mountain West Conference regular season matches of the season, the BYU women's volleyball team will travel to play UNLV Friday and San Diego State Saturday. Both matches are scheduled to start at 8 p.m. (MST).

Currently in sole possession of third place in the MWC at 8-4, BYU (18-7 overall) will first travel to play the Rebels (11-14, 4-8), before heading to San Diego for a showdown with the fourth-place Aztecs (17-11, 7-5).

After the match against SDSU Saturday, the Cougars will remain in San Diego in preparation for the MWC Tournament set to take place Thursday through Saturday on the campus of SDSU.

"It's important for us to finish the season strong," BYU coach Karen Lamb said. "At this point in the season we can't have any let downs.

"We'll take it one match at a time this weekend. UNLV has been hitting well, and SDSU is only one game behind us, so it's an important match for tournament seeding."

BYU continues to be one of the top blocking teams in the nation, and entering this week's play it is ranked No. 11 averaging 3.08 blocks per game. As a team the Cougars have put up double-digit blocks in four of their last five games, out-blocking opponents 68-36 during that span.

In MWC play, BYU is averaging a league-best 3.24 bpg and has five players averaging over 1.00 bpg.

Senior libero Uila Crabbe continues to lead the conference in digs with 326 overall and a 3.54 digs per game average. Last week against Utah, Crabbe became the sixth player in BYU history to amass 1,000 career digs. She needs 43 digs to surpass Caroline Bower for fifth all-time at BYU.

Offensively, the Cougars are tied as the best hitting team, hitting at a .256 clip. BYU is led by MWC Freshman of the Year candidate middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock, who has a .361 attack percentage.

The most balanced offensive team in the MWC, BYU is the only team in the league with seven players with more than 100 kills.

UNLV is hitting .317 over its last four matches and is led by senior outside hitter Leiana Oswald, who is one of only three players in the MWC to be averaging over 4.0 kills per game.

SDSU is streaking and have won four of its last five matches. Included among the wins was a defeat of then-No. 18 San Diego last week. Senior middle blocker Megan Schauermann leads the MWC with 1.60 bpg.

"I feel positive about our team," Lamb said. "We just have to come out this weekend focused and determined to win."

Weekly Notes:

Week #11 in Review ...

BYU lost its lone match last week against the Utah Utes. Two players, the outside hitting duo of April Varner and Kim Wilson led the way for the Cougars with 16 and 14 kills, respectively. The Cougars have lost seven consecutive matches to the Utes.

This Week

The Cougars will be on the road at UNLV Friday and San Diego State Saturday to close out their MWC schedule. With 18 wins, the Cougars need two more for the 20-win mark, which would give BYU 29 out of 30 all-time 20-win seasons. Both matches are slated to start at 8 p.m. (MST).

Division I All-Time Wins Leaders

UCLA 959

SMS 926

BYU 919

Nebraska 897

Long Beach State 895

Uila's Milestone

In the second game against the Utes, Cougar senior libero Uila Crabbe became the sixth player in BYU history to collect her 1,000th career dig. She put up a match-high 16 digs against Utah and currently stands at 1,110 career digs. She needs 43 digs to pass Caroline Bower for fifth all-time at BYU.

Double-Double Leader

Sophomore setter Lauren Richards collected her team-leading 10th double-double this season with 41 assists and 11 digs against the Utes.

The Nielsen Stuff

Junior middle blocker Laura Nielsen put up a match-high seven blocks against Utah, her second-highest single-match blocking effort this season.

The Cougar Stuff

The Cougars collected 12 blocks in four games against the Utes. Entering play last week, BYU was ranked as the No. 11 blocking team in the nation with 3.08 bpg. The Cougars are also the second-best blocking team in the MWC.

Offensive Cougars

BYU is tied as the top hitting team in the MWC, hitting at a .256 clip. The Cougars are also the only team with more than two players in the conference top 10 for hitting percentage. The Cougars have four players ranked in the top 10 (2-Lindsy Hartsock .361; 5-Lexi Brown .333; 5-Laura Nielsen .333; 9-Carrie Bowers .299).

BYU Balance

Demonstrating depth and distribution, the Cougars are the only team in the MWC to have seven players with over 100 kills. Senior middle blocker Laura Nielsen sits at 98 kills and will be the eighth BYU player to reach the 100-kill mark this season.

MWC Freshman of the Year Candidate

Lindsy 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 (.361), fifth in blocks per game (1.27) and fifth in service aces per game (0.37).

Not a Middling Bunch

All three middle blockers on the BYU active roster are hitting over .300 on the year (Lindsy Hartsock .361; Lexi Brown .333; and Laura Nielsen .333). They are hitting a collective .339 (347-96-741).

Highlight Player from Last Week -- Vabulous Varner

BYU junior outside hitter April Varner was a threat throughout the match against Utah on Friday night, but she was at her best when the pressure was on. She found crucial holes in the Utah block, as her rotation carried the attack as the match wore on.

Varner led the team with 16 kills in the match and was second on the team with 35 attack attempts. She also led the team with a .429 hitting percentage, almost doubling her season hitting percentage, which marks her most efficient night this season when she has collected double-digit kills.

Varner's double-digit kill effort was her first in exactly one month. The last time she posted double-digit kills was against Weber State when she tallied 15. Varner also put up eight digs, the most among BYU outside hitters, and she only committed one attack error on 35 swings.

Season Notes:

Crabbe passes 1,000

Senior libero Uila Crabbe put up 16 digs against Utah, Nov. 7. In the second game of that match, she passed the 1,000 dig mark, to become only the sixth Cougar to reach that mark. She needs 43 digs to pass Caroline Bower (1,052) for fifth all-time at BYU.

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

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. Crabbe has played in every game since the start of the 2001 season.

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.

Kearl in Rotation

Junior defensive specialist Lindsey Kearl has played in the Cougars last seven 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.

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