Weekly Release #13 - MWC Tourney Starts Thursday

The BYU women's volleyball team will compete in the 2003 Mountain West Conference Championship, Nov. 20-22 in San Diego, Calif. The Cougars enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed and will play No. 6 Air Force on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. (MST). (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Having achieved its 29th 20-win season in 30 years with a pair of wins over UNLV and San Diego State last week, the BYU women's volleyball team will compete in the Mountain West Conference Championship starting Thursday in San Diego, Calif.

BYU (20-7 overall, 10-4 MWC) enters the tournament as the third seed, and will face sixth-seed Air Force (14-14, 4-10) Thursday at 2:30 p.m. (MST). The fifth-annual tournament is being hosted for the first time by SDSU.

The Cougars vs. Falcons match-up will be broadcast live on BYUTV at 2:30 p.m. (MST) and shown on a tape-delayed basis on KBYU-TV at 10:30 p.m. (MST).

"I'm pleased with the progress that our team has been making," BYU coach Karen Lamb said. "We're coming together at the right time and we played very well in our wins last week.

"We know we can't be satisfied at this point, though. Staying focused and being consistent are what we've been stressing and we'll continue with that mindset."

The Cougars are the second-best hitting team in the MWC with a .258 hitting percentage and possess the most balanced attack, as eight players have recorded 100 or more kills on the season - best in the conference.

Sophomore setter Lauren Richards led BYU to a .292 hitting week in the sweeps of the Rebels and the Aztecs. She dished out 11.33 assists per game and was a threat herself with eight kills on 12 attempts with no attack errors.

Defensively, BYU has been making a rapid climb up the national blocking charts. With 25 blocks last week, the Cougars bumped their season average up to 3.15 blocks per game and now rank eighth nationally. BYU has out-blocked six of its last seven opponents, and are 17-2 on the year when holding the blocking edge.

Air Force has dropped both its matches to BYU this year. The Falcons held a 2-0 lead in the first meeting between the two teams, but the Cougars stormed back and rallied for the five-game win. BYU had an easier time the second time around with a 3-0 sweep. The Falcons are led by MWC kills leader Delavane Diaz who averages 5.02 kills per game.

"Air Force has some talented players," Lamb said. "Every time they play us, they seem to come out with some extra fire, so we have to match their intensity from the start."

On BYU's side of the bracket is Utah, which has won the past two MWC Tournament crowns. The Cougars are 8-3 all time in the tournament and have won one championship, in 2000.

Watch the Cougars in the MWC Tournament

Follow the BYU women's volleyball team, as it enters the MWC Tournament Thursday. The No.3-seed Cougars can be seen live on BYUTV, available through various cable providers, against No.6-seed Air Force at 2:30 (MST); 1:30 (PST). The match will also be broadcast on KBYU-TV (channel 11) on a tape-delay basis at 10:30 p.m. Broadcast plans for a possible second-round match-up will not be announced until BYU has advanced. For a full listing of television stations carrying BYUTV and for satellite coordinates, please refer to page three of the release.

Full coverage will also be available through the team's Web site at www.byucougars.com. Through the 2003 schedule link, there are live audio/visual stream and Live Stats links. Live Stats for the tournament are being provided by the MWC.

Where to find BYU Television

Dish Network (channel 9403)

DirecTV PLUS (channel 374)

Comcast Cable in Utah (channel 21)

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

Charter Cable in St. George, UT (channel 78)

Cox Digital Cable in Arizona (channel 112)

Cox Digital Cable in Nevada (channel 384)

All-American Cable & Cable America in Mesa, Ariz (channel 97)

Cowley Cable Television in southern Wyoming

Eagle West L.L.C. Cable in Arizona and Nevada (channel 98)

Lovell Cable in Lovell, WY(channel 50)

TCT, West in Lovell, WY (channel 118)

Cable One in Safford, AZ (channel 49)

Grant County Public Utility Disctrict in Ephrata, WA (channel 425)

SATELLITE:

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Broadcast Produced by the MWC

This is the second straight year that matches will be broadcast back to each Mountain West Conference market, and the fourth straight year the MWC has televised the entire championship. Preliminary round matches can be seen on over-the-air and cable affiliates throughout the Mountain West Conference region.

Saturday's title match will be televised live at 8 p.m. MT on Fox Sports Net (Rocky Mountain) with a coverage area including Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, as well as parts of Montana, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska and Nevada. The telecast will also be available to a national audience on FSN to DirecTV subscribers. The semifinals and finals will air on CSTV via tape delay. The complete schedule, satellite coordinates and clearances are listed below. Check local listings for match coverage.

Weekly Notes:

Division I All-Time Wins Leaders

UCLA 960

SMS 927

BYU 921

Nebraska 898

Long Beach State 896

Week #12 in Review ...

BYU swept both its matches last week in convincing fashion. The Cougars were led, as they have been in recent matches, by their blocking. BYU put up 25 blocks in the two matches to stifle UNLV and San Diego State.

This Week

This week BYU will participate in the MWC Tournament, and enters the competition as the No. 3 seed. The Cougars will face No. 6 seed Air Force in the first round of the tournament Thursday at 1:30 p.m. (PST). The semifinals will take place on Friday and the championship match will be played Saturday at 7 p.m. For the first time ever, the MWC Women's Volleyball Tournament will be hosted by San Diego State University on the campus of SDSU at Peterson Gym.

Uila's Milestone

On the heels of recording her 1,000th dig against Utah two weeks ago, Cougar senior libero Uila Crabbe followed that up with two exceptional performances last week. She collected 32 total digs for a 5.33 digs per game average. She needs nine digs to pass Caroline Bower for fifth all-time at BYU. This season she leads all MWC players with 358 total digs and a 3.65 dpg average. Crabbe needs 44 digs to pass Cherie Sam Fong and set the all-time single season digs record at BYU.

Looking at the Numbers ...

Will the Cougars win today? A close look at the numbers reveals that BYU is 12-0 this season when winning the first game. All BYU's wins this season have come when the Cougars hold a hitting percentage advantage over their opponents, a perfect 20-0 record.

The Play of Brown Bomber

Brown is proving that she belongs when she receives playing time. She recorded match highs of 16 kills and a .419 attack percentage in the sweep of SDSU. She wasn't a slouch on the defensive side of the ball either, as she tied for the match high with five blocks.

BYU's Leading Duo ...

Junior outside hitter Lindsey Metcalf and sophomore middle blocker Lexi Brown each took turns in leading the Cougars. Neither has been a focal point of the attack this season, but Metcalf and Brown led BYU in kills against the Rebels and Aztecs. It marked the third match that each has led the team in kills.

The Cougar Stuff

The Cougars collected 25 blocks in six games last week, for a 4.17 bpg average. Entering play this week, BYU is ranked as the No. 8 blocking team in the nation with 3.08 bpg. In MWC play, the Cougars are No. 1, averaging 3.36 bpg. The Cougar block has improved with each passing week and continues to move up the rankings each week.

Too Much Metcalf

Metcalf also led the team in blocks last week with nine, including five solo blocks. One of the best blocking outside hitters in the MWC, she is averaging 0.87 blocks per game.

Offensive Cougars

BYU is second-best hitting team in the MWC, hitting at a .258 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 (3-Lindsy Hartsock .357; 4-Lexi Brown .346; 5-Laura Nielsen .333; 9-Carrie Bowers .298).

BYU Balance

Demonstrating depth and distribution, the Cougars are the only team in the MWC to have eight players with over 100 kills.

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 six of any statistical category. She is third in hitting percentage (.357), fourth in blocks per game (1.27) and sixth in service aces per game (0.36).

Not a Middling Bunch

All three middle blockers on the BYU active roster are hitting over .300 on the year (Lindsy Hartsock .357; Lexi Brown .346; and Laura Nielsen .333). They are hitting a collective .343 (378-103-803).

Highlight Player from Last Week - Lauren Richards

Sophomore setter Lauren Richards continues to grow as a distributor. BYU is the only MWC team to have eight players with 100 or more kills. In leading the Cougars to a pair of sweeps over UNLV and San Diego State last week, Richards led the team to a .292 hitting percentage, including a .348 effort against the No. 4 blocking San Diego State squad.

On the week, Richards exceeded her season averages in blocks, digs and aces per game, as well as hitting percentage.

In a sweep of UNLV Friday, Richards had a season-low three attack attempts, but contributed four aces, a match-high, and one off her career-high. Richards had averaged 14.7 attempts per match this season, but had 12 total attempts last week. She put down eight kills on 12 attempts with no attack errors to almost triple her effectiveness, as she hit .667.

Demonstrating distribution, Richards has continued to make better and better decisions, as the season has worn on. On the season, BYU is the only team in the MWC to have eight players with 100 or more kills. Last week all eight of those players registered double-digit attack attempts.

She led the Cougars to the second-best hitting percentage in MWC play (.266), and second-best overall (.258).

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 26th 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.

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 regular season 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

In 2002, BYU had 14 wins total. With the team's 20th win at San Diego State Saturday, the Cougars have won 20 matches this season. The six win improvement is tied for the ninth best 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 Nov. 1 to put her over the 1,000-assist mark at 1,007, to mark the first milestone she has hurdled in her young career.yyyý

Kearl in Rotation

Junior defensive specialist Lindsey Kearl has played in the Cougars last nine 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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