Cougars Continue Playing, Complete Eight Matches in 10 Days
After getting back on a winning track Tuesday with a sweep of Weber State, the BYU women's volleyball team will travel to College Station, Texas, to participate in the Texas A&M Invitational this weekend. Continuing a grueling string of matches, the Cougars will play Louisiana Lafayette Friday, and Sam Houston State and No. 16 Texas A&M Saturday.
In sweeping the Wildcats, BYU (3-5, 0-0 Mountain West Conference) recorded its first sweep of the season and it was the first time the Cougars have won the first game in a match this season.
"We're really starting to improve as a team," head coach Karen Lamb said. "We're still a young, inexperienced team, but we'll only get better as we play more games."
All 13 of the active players on the Cougar roster have seen time on the court this season, as BYU searches for a consistent mix. Although BYU is being outhit this year (.122 to .179), the Cougars attack showed spark against the Wildcats as they hit for a higher percentage with each successive game.
The Cougars are led by the all-around play of junior setter Karina Puikkonen, who is averaging 9.45 assists and 1.31 kills per game with a .280 attack percentage to go with 1.66 digs and 1.34 blocks per game.
The strength of the Cougars this year has been their blocking, as they have outblocked six of eight opponents this season. On the year, BYU holds a 3.47 to 2.38 bpg advantage over its opponents. The blocking brigade is led by BYU's two new starting middleblockers, junior Carrie Bowers and redshirt freshman Lexi Brown, who are averaging 1.39 and 1.59 bpg.
Brown was injured in the second game of the Cougars' match Tuesday. She sprained her knee, and will have an MRI Wednesday night to determine the extent of the injury. As a result Brown will not accompany the team to Texas.
All of BYU's opponents carry winning 2002 records into the tournment, with a cumulative record of 15-6.
The Cougars will meet the Rajun' Cajuns for the first time in what will be a battle of first-year head coaches. BYU is 2-0 all-time against Sam Houston State, with the last meeting a 2-0 Cougar sweep in 1980.
The Cougars hold a 9-1 edge in head-to-head match-ups with the Aggies. The last time the two teams met, BYU defeated Texas A&M in five games at the 1997 NCAA East Regional Semifinals.
For the tournament, the Cougars will play Louisiana-Lafayette Friday at 5 p.m. On Saturday, BYU will play Sam Houston State at 11 a.m. and Texas A&M at 7 p.m.
TEXAS A&M INVITATIONAL
G. Rollie White Coliseum (7,800)
College Station, Texas
FRIDAY, SEPT. 13
BYU vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (4-3) -- 5 p.m.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 14
BYU vs. Sam Houston State -- 11 a.m.
BYU at No. 16 Texas A&M -- 7 p.m.