Weekly Release #4 - BYU to Host UVSC and Nevada

Redshirt freshman middle blocker Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock is coming off a career-high 11 block performance in a win over No. 8 Penn State on Saturday. She leads the Cougars with 1.45 blocks per game, which ranks her 23rd nationally. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- After going 3-0, including a win over No. 8 Penn State, and clinching the BYU Mizuno Classic last week, the BYU women's volleyball team will continue its home stand this weekend, as it prepares to face Utah Valley State College on Friday at 7 p.m. and Nevada at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Both matches will be played in the Smith Fieldhouse.

BYU (7-3) defeated Ohio State, Rice and Penn State last week and the Cougars currently ride a three-match winning streak. The Cougars' matches will be their last before Mountain West Conference play begins on Sept. 26.

"We are coming off a successful week, but we have to keep taking steps forward in our progress," BYU coach Karen Lamb said. "We have no room to get comfortable. Nothing has come easy and we have to keep fighting for everything we get."

Lamb continues to see room for improvement, but realizes as the team jells to balance patience with constant vigilance.

Sophomore outside hitter Kim Wilson garnered Most Valuable Player honors at the BYU Mizuno Classic, and senior rightside hitter and sophomore setter Lauren Richards were named to the all-tournament team. Additionally, for her efforts in leading the Cougars to a .234 attack percentage, while continuing her stellar all-around play, Richards was named MWC Co-Player of the Week.

The Wolverines (2-6) and the Wolf Pack (5-6) both own losing records, but have faced quality competition. UVSC has been victorious over Washington State, but has been handed losses by Missouri, Utah and 2002 NCAA Division II Champion BYU-Hawai'i. Nevada has defeated Arizona State, but has lost to No. 15 Long Beach State and No. 16 California.

"We have to play well this weekend to win," Lamb said. "UVSC is kind of an unknown, but they have great athletes and beat Washington State earlier this year. We played Nevada last year, and it is a very well coached team. They have some players that can make a lot of plays."

Week #3 in Review ...

The Cougars went perfect on the week with wins over Ohio State, Rice and No. 8 Penn State to win the BYU Mizuno Classic with a perfect 3-0 record. Kim Wilson was selected as the tournament MVP, Carrie Bowers and Lauren Richards were selected to the all-tournament team.

Cougars Continue Home Stand

BYU is slated to play Utah Valley State College and Nevada this week, before the start of conference play next week.

Wilson Wows

Sophomore outside hitter Kim Wilson was elected as the BYU Mizuno Classic Tournament Most Valuable Player. She led the Cougars in attempts and kills in all three wins. She had one 20-kill performance before the BYU Mizuno Classic (29 on Sept. 6), but on Saturday, she had back-to-back 20-kill outings (21 vs. Rice and 22 vs. Penn State). In the 36 previous collegiate matches to start her career, Wilson had posted one double-double (29K and 13 D on 9/6). At the BYU Mizuno Classic, she posted three double-doubles in three matches. Previous to the BYU Mizuno Classic, Wilson's career-high in blocks was three. At the tournament, she collected three against Ohio State, then set a new career -high with six blocks against Penn State.

MWC Co-player of the Week Lauren Richards

Entering the tournament, Richards had only played seven matches as a full-time setter, but was able to lead the Cougars to the tournament title with stellar all-around play. Under Richards' direction last week, BYU hit .234 (compared to opponents .177) despite facing two top-25 blocking teams (Penn State-11, Ohio State-25). Five Cougars hit .250 or better and three averaged at least 3.0 kills per game, including 4.31 kills per game by Classic MVP Kim Wilson. Although BYU struggled with a team hitting percentage of .167 (54-28-156) in a win over Big Ten power Ohio State, Richards stepped up with a .417 hitting percentage (7-2-12), totaling seven kills, 41 assists, nine digs, five aces and a career-high five blocks. In a victory over Rice, Richards collected 52 assists, 10 digs and four blocks to mark her fifth double-double of the season. In the win over No. 8 Penn State, Richards recorded another double-double with 55 assists and 11 digs, while topping her previous career-high with six blocks vs. the Nittany Lions, who entered the Classic as the No. 3 hitting team in the nation (.352). For the week, Richards averaged 11.38 assists, 2.31 digs, 1.62 kills, 1.15 blocks and .54 aces per game.

Richards Match-by-Match

Against Ohio State, in the BYU home opener, the Cougar hitters struggled in making numerous errors, but Richards stepped up with seven kills of her own, while hitting a team-leading .417. She also set career highs with five aces and five blocks to go with nine digs to power BYU over the Buckeyes in four games.

In BYU's win over Rice, Cougar hitters came alive as Richards collected 52 assists. Three players hit double-digit kills (Kim Wilson 21, Carrie Bowers 14 and Lindsey Metcalf 10). In the fourth and deciding game, BYU outside hitter entered the match and put down seven kills in 10 swings to seal the match for BYU. Richards recorded her fifth double-double of the year as she had 10 digs. She also had one ace and four blocks.

In the tournament clinching win against No. 8 Penn State, Richards led the Cougars to a team .250 hitting percentage while dishing out 55 assists. She also put up 11 digs for her sixth double-double in 10 matches this season. On the offensive side, Richards also had eight kills and one ace. At the net, Richards helped to hold the No. 3 hitting team in the nation (.352) to a .178 attack percentage , improving on a career-high set the day before, with six blocks.

Injury Update

It is relatively quiet on the injury front. Lindsey Kearl continues to be bothered by recurring back pain, and has been hobbled by a sprained ankle. Erica Lott continues to be bothered by lower back pain, but has recently returned to practice.

Nationally Speaking

BYU is currently ranked No. 26 nationally in blocking with 2.86 blocks per game. Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock is currently No. 23 nationally, averaging 1.45 bpg.

Beating the Block

Two of the Cougar opponents, Ohio State (T25 -- 2.83 bpg) and No. 8 Penn State (11 -- 3.11 bpg) were ranking in national blocking entering the week.

Winning Ways

BYU is on a three-match winning streak, matching the longest winning streak in Lamb's tenure as head coach. At 7-3 the Cougars are four games above .500 for the first time since Karen Lamb took over the team.

Lewey Shedding Freshman Inexperience

In the Cougars' win over Penn State, redshirt freshman middle blocker Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock set a career-high with 11 blocks. Lewis-Hartsock is also proving to be one of the more effective servers in the nation, as she demonstrated in the three matches last week with 11 aces and two serving errors. On the season, she has 19 aces and eight errors to lead the Cougars with 0.61 sapg.

Varner Sets Personal High

In BYU's win over Rice, junior outside hitter April Varner entered the match with BYU up 2-1, in relief of a struggling Lindsey Metcalf. Varner proceeded to put down seven kills in 10 swings and post a career-high .700 attack percentage.

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.

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