Weekly Release #5 -- BYU hosts UCSB, UNM, AFA

Coming off its win over No. 21 Utah last week, BYU hosts No. 19 UC Santa Barbara Wednesday before returning to Mountain West Conference play Friday and Saturday against New Mexico and Air Force at the Smith Fieldhouse. The Cougars enter the week with a five-match winning streak and have won 15 straight at home dating back to last season.

BYU's match with UC Santa Barbara starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday and will be televised live on KBYU-TV, channel 11, and on BYU-TV, available on Dish Network 500, DirectTV and some cable systems. The Cougars and Gauchos share a 7-7-1 series record, with BYU winning the last meeting in Santa Barbara, 3-0, last November vs. the No. 13 Gauchos. BYU is 2-1 vs. UCSB in the Smith Fieldhouse.

BYU hosts New Mexico Friday at 7 p.m. and Air Force Saturday at 8 p.m. The Cougars have a 48-7 all-time record against the Lobos, including a 22-3 mark in Provo. BYU is 6-0 vs. Air Force, with three wins in the Smith Fieldhouse. BYU won all four matches vs. the two MWC opponents last season in three-game sweeps.

"UC Santa Barbara is our initial focus since we play them Wednesday," BYU coach Elaine Michaelis said. "They have a lot of players back from last year and a 6-3 freshman middle hitter that is doing a nice job for them. They run a 6-2 system like Utah and they are a great defensive team. You have to be very aggressive to put the ball away against their defense. We will need to stay focused to win these three matches this week, especially with rally scoring. New Mexico and Air Force will be scrappy. We've got to be ready."

THIS WEEK UP CLOSE

Wednesday, Sept. 26

No. 14 BYU (6-1) vs. No. 19 UCSB (3-5)

Smith Fieldhouse (5,000) • Provo, Utah • 7 p.m. MDT

Friday, Sept. 28

BYU (1-0 MWC) vs. New Mexico (2-7, 0-2)

Smith Fieldhouse (5,000) • Provo, Utah • 7 p.m. MDT

Saturday, Sept. 28

BYU vs. Air Force (1-8, 0-2)

Smith Fieldhouse (5,000) • Provo, Utah • 8 p.m. MDT

OPPONENT INFO

UC Santa Barbara

3-5 • 1-1 Big West

Ranked - 19th AVCA and Volleyball magazine

QUICK LOOK AT UC SANTA BARBARA

The Gauchos return five starters from last year's 26-8 team that advanced to the regional finals (Elite Eight) of the NCAA tournament. They have played a very good schedule thus far this season. UCSB's five losses have come against No. 1 Nebraska (0-3), No. 2 Long Beach State (2-3), No. 5 USC (0-3), No. 7 Wisconsin (1-3) and No. 20 Santa Clara (0-3). UCSB wins include North Carolina (3-0), Creighton (3-0) and UC Irvine (3-0). Danielle Bauer leads UCSB's attack with 121 kills (4.48 kpg) and also has a team-high 99 digs (3.67 dpg).

SERIES NOTES

The Cougars and Gauchos share a 7-7-1 series record, with BYU winning the last meeting in Santa Barbara, 3-0, last November vs. the No. 13 Gauchos. BYU is 2-1 vs. UCSB in the Smith Fieldhouse.

GENERAL INFO

Location: Santa Barbara, California

Enrollment: 18,500

Nickname: Gauchos

Colors: Blue and Gold

Facility: The Thunderdome (6,000)

Conference: Big West

VOLLEYBALL INFO

Head Coach: Kathy Gregory

Overall Record (Years): 654-277 (27)

Record at School (Years): 654-277 (27)

Assistant Coaches: Mike Fitzgerald, Stephanie Cox Gandara

2000 Overall Record: 26-8

2000 Conference Record/Finish: 14-2/2nd

2000 Final Ranking/Post Season

Finish: 9th/Elite Eight

PLAYER INFO

Starters Returning/Lost: 5-1

Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 10/2

Top Returners:

Brooke Rundle, 5-6, Jr., S,

Courtney Guerra, 6-0, Jr., OH

Top Newcomers:

Nikki Carroll, 6-3, Fr., MB

SPORTS INFO

Volleyball Contact: Tim Cummins

Phone: (805) 893-8603

FAX: (805) 893-4537

E-mail: tim.cummins@athletics.ucsb.edu

Website: ucsbgauchos.com

New Mexico

2-7 overall

0-2 Mountain West

QUICK LOOK AT NEW MEXICO

The Lobos have a new coach this year in Tom Peterson, a former BYU assistant who coached Utah State to the NCAA tournament and a national ranking last year. His Aggie team defeated BYU last season in Logan, Utah, and won its first round NCAA match in Provo before losing to BYU in the NCAA second round. The Lobos have two starters and five letterwinners returning from last season's 10-17 team that tied for fifth in the Mountain West Conference with a 5-9 conference record. This year, the Lobos have dropped seven straight since starting the year 2-0. Senior transfer Malena Thompson led the Lobos in kills in the past two matches with 11 vs. SDSU and eight vs. UNLV.

SERIES NOTES

The Cougars have a 48-7 all-time record against the Lobos, including a 22-3 mark in Provo. BYU won all both matches last season in three-game sweeps.

GENERAL INFO

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Enrollment: 24,250

Nickname: Lobos

Colors: Cherry and Silver

Facility: Johnson Arena (5,000)

Conference: Mountain West

VOLLEYBALL INFO

Head Coach: Tom Peterson

Overall Record (Years): 243-109 (11)

Record at School (Years): First Year

Assistant Coaches: Grayson DuBose

2000 Overall Record: 10-17

2000 Conference Record/Finish: 5-9/T-5th

2000 Final Ranking/Post Season

Finish: N/A

PLAYER INFO

Starters Returning/Lost: 2/4

Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 5/6

Top Returners:

Kelly Griffin, 5-9, Jr., S

Vanessa Shileds, 6-0, Jr., RS

Top Newcomers:

Anna Reines, 6-3, So., MB/OH

SPORTS INFO

Volleyball Contact: Andrea Tafoya

Phone: (505) 925-5523

FAX: (505) 925-5520

E-mail: andreat@unm.edu

Website: www.GoLobos.com

Air Force

1-8 overall

0-2 Mountain West

QUICK LOOK AT AIR FORCE

The Falcons return four starters and seven lettwinners from last year's 6-21 team that placed eighth in the Mountain West with an 0-14 mark. The Falcons are still looking to snap their 19-match conference losing streak after dropping a pair of MWC matches last week. Kristin Huitt notched her league-high sixth double-double of the season vs. UNLV. Freshman Kaitlin McEwen totaled a career high 17 kills vs. UNLV.

SERIES NOTES

BYU is 6-0 vs. Air Force, with three wins in the Smith Fieldhouse. BYU won all both matches last season in three-game sweeps.

GENERAL INFO

Location: USAF Academy, Colorado

Enrollment: 6,100

Nickname: Falcons

Colors: Blue and Silver

Facility: East Gym (1,000)

Conference: Mountain West

VOLLEYBALL INFO

Series Record: 6-0-0

Last Meeting: 2000

Result: BYU (3-0)

Head Coach: Penny Lucas-White

Overall Record (Years): 136-181 (10)

Record at School (Years): 410101 (6)

Assistant Coaches: Verna Julaton

2000 Overall Record: 6-21

2000 Conference Record/Finish: 0-14/8th

2000 Final Ranking/Post Season

Finish: N/A

PLAYER INFO

Starters Returning/Lost: 4/2

Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 7/3

Top Returners:

Delavane Diaz, 5-11, So., OH

Kristin Huitt, 5-6, So., S

Top Newcomers:

LeMecca Jefferson, 6-1, Fr., MH

Tiffany Bishop, 6-0, Fr., MH

SPORTS INFO

Volleyball Contact: Laurie L. White

Phone: (719) 333-3950

FAX: (719) 333-3798

E-mail: kendahl.johnson@usafa.af.mil

Website: www.AirForceSports.com

BYU NOTES

BYU's Probable Starters

No. Name. Year Pos.

15 Sunny Mahe Jr. RS

9 Nina Puikkonen Sr. MB

2 Natalie Whittaker Sr. OH

5 Karina Puikkonen So. S

10 Jackie Bundy Sr. MB

4 Becky Warnick Fr. OH

12 Uila Crabbe So. DS

BYU BRIEF OUTLOOK

The 2001 Cougars are led by first-team AVCA All-American middle blocker Nina Puikkonen and NCAA All-West Region rightside hitter Sunny Tonga Mahe. Mahe is a junior in 2001 while Puikkonen is one of three seniors returning with significant court experience. She is joined by fellow seniors Jackie Bundy, an All-MWC middle blocker who finished 12th nationally in blocking last year, and Natalie Whittaker, BYU's top reserve last season. The Cougars also return setter Karina Puikkonen, who earned all-conference honors last year as a freshman. While Michaelis returns four all-conference starters, she will need to replace the services of starting outside hitters Melissa Layton and Kalani Tonga. Reserve middle blocker Alyssa Barrus and backup setter Martha Brinton also won't return in 2001. Both players decided to leave on an 18-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with Barrus to serve in Washington, D.C. and Brinton in Switzerland. Whittaker, junior transfer Allison Holsten Larson and the redshirt freshman tandem of Lindsey Steele and Becky Warnick all are talented players with the potential to fill the void left on the outside. A solid freshmen recruiting class join sophomore Carrie Bowers (middle blocker/rightside hitter), sophomore Uila Crabbe (defensive specialist) and junior Michelle Mahaffey (defensive specialist) to provide Michaelis with a strong supporting cast. Last year, the Cougars were ranked second nationally in blocking and eighth in hitting and should continue to excel in those categories in 2001. With Karina Puikkonen having a year of experience on her resume and setting many of the same hitters, BYU's offense should again be one of the nation's most potent. The Cougar block could be the nation's best with Puikkonen and Bundy in the middle.

BYU LAST ACTION

BYU extended its home winning streak to 15 matches with a 3-0 win (30-26, 30-25, 30-25) over Utah last week.

WINNING STREAKS

BYU has a five-match winning streak. The Cougars are 4-0 at home this year and own a 15-match home winning streak dating back to last season. The last team to defeat BYU in the Smith Fieldhouse was nationally ranked Arizona on Sept. 15, 2000.

POINTS

On the year, Nina Puikkonen leads the Cougars with 128 points (4.92 ppg), followed by Sunny Mahe with 122 (4.69 ppg) and Jackie Bundy with 101.5 (3.90 ppg).

TOP CROWDS

Entering last week with the nation's 10th-best average home attendance, BYU had its top crowd of the year to date with 1,858 in attendance for the Cougars' 3-0 sweep of Utah Thursday. BYU has averaged 1,553 in its four home matches in 2001. The Cougars remain in the 10th spot among national leaders in home attendance.

DOUBLE-DIGITS

With her 11 kills against Utah, All-American Nina Puikkonen has recorded double-digit kills in all seven matches this year. With 10 kills vs. the Utes, Sunny Mahe has reached double figures in kills in six straight matches. Jackie Bundy equaled Puikkonen with 11 kills vs. the Utes for her fourth double-digit kills match of the year.

ALL-TOURNAMENT HONORS

BYU's Sunny Mahe earned Mizuno Classic MVP honors while Nina Puikkonen, Jackie Bundy and Karina Puikkonen were selected to the all-tournament team along with Rese McNatt of Southwest Missouri State and Elizabeth Gower and Monique Gerlach of Colorado. Mahe and Nina Puikkonen also were named to the Point Huskies Invitational All-Tournament Team.

FILLING OUTSIDE SPOTS

With four all-conference starters returning, BYU coach Elaine Michaelis has had to replace her two starting outside hitters from last season. Senior Natalie Whittaker has played all 26 games at one outside spot, while redshirt freshman Becky Warnick (18 games) and junior college transfer Allison Larson (12 games) have each seen time on the front row at the other spot. Larson injured her ankle last week, which limited her chance to play vs. Utah. Sophomore defensive specialist Uila Crabbe has played back row in all 26 games this year.

NINA MOVING UP CAREER CHARTS

Nina Puikkonen could move into second place on BYU's all-time blocking list this week. She has 685 career blocks and needs just 10 total blocks to move into second place past Amy Steele Gant. She has 592 block assists, just three shy of passing Gant into second place and has 93 block solos, eight short of overtaking Gant into fourth and 16 shy of taking over third place from Jill Plumb. Earlier this year, she moved past former Cougar All-American Gale Johnson into fifth place on BYU's all-time kills list with her third kill in BYU's win over Rhode Island.

JACKIE BUNDY

Senior middle blocker Jackie Bundy recorded her first career triple-double in BYU's win over No. 23 Colorado. She totaled 15 kills, 12 digs and a season-high 10 blocks on the night.

KARINA PUIKKONEN

Sophomore setter Karina Puikkonen set a new carer high with a personal-best .667 attack percentage against Utah, putting down eight kills in 12 dump attempts with no errors. She also had seven digs and three blocks while tossing up 35 assists as the Cougars hit .263 as a team. Karina has had the team's best individual attack percentage all three weeks this season. Karina has hit .500 or better in five of BYU's seven matches this year and leads the Cougars with a .469 season hitting percentage. She averages 1.73 kills, 1.77 digs and 0.92 blocks in seven matches this year. Karina is fourth on the team in points, with 63.5 points (2.44 ppg). She set a new career high with 10 kills vs. Colorado while hitting a match-high .529 with only one error in 17 attempts.

QUOTING MICHAELIS

On UCSB ...

"UC Santa Barbara has a lot of players back from last year and a 6-3 freshman middle hitter that is doing a nice job for them. They run a 6-2 system like Utah and they are strong in the middle like Utah. We will need to serve effectively to give ourselves a better chance to play good defense and get a win. They area great defensive team. You have to be very aggressive to put the ball away against their defense."

On New Mexico and Air Force ...

"Tom (Peterson) will do an excellent job at New Mexico. Right now they are learning his system but with rally scoring we will need to stay focused to beat them. Like New Mexico, Air Force will be scrappy. They play with a lot of pride and always give their best effort. We've got to be ready."

BYU'S MAHE EARNS FIRST MOUNTAIN WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARD

BYU junior outside hitter Sunny Mahe was named the Mountain West Conference Volleyball Player of the Week Sept. 3, marking the second time overall she has earned the award. A native of Allen, Texas (Allen HS), Mahe led BYU with 45 kills (3.75 per game) and a .330 hitting percentage (45k-11e-103a) as the Cougars posted a 2-1 record at the Washington Tournament in Seattle last weekend. Mahe, who earned all-tournament honors, posted her best numbers of the week in a four-game win against Purdue with a career-high 22 kills, 12 digs, five total blocks and a .724 hitting percentage. She also had nine kills in a sweep of Washington and 14 kills in a five-game loss to Texas. For the week, Mahe racked up 23 digs, (1.92 per game), 13 total blocks (1.08 per game), four aces (.33 per game) and 56.5 points, which ranks second in the MWC.

SCHEDULE

BYU boasts a typically strong schedule that includes many of the nation's top teams. BYU's schedule included 10 teams that qualified for last year's NCAA tournament in a minimum of 12 matches during their 2001 regular season schedule. Two of those matches were canceled because of the terrorist attacks on the United States. BYU will not play its matches in Hawaii vs. Loyola Marymount and the Univeristy of Hawaii, who advanced to the NCAA Final Four last year. Of the eight NCAA teams left on the schedule, seven earned a tournament victory last year. UC Santa Barbara had its run end with a regional final loss to Hawaii while Long Beach State and Colorado State each earned regional semifinal appearances. Utah, Cal Poly, Colorado, and Utah State made it to the second round while Sacramento State earned a spot in the big dance. Other 2001 non-conference opponents include Texas, who has appeared in 17 of 20 NCAA tournaments and is sixth all-time with 38 NCAA tournament wins, Washington, Purdue, Rhode Island and Southwest Missouri State. BYU will play 12 regular season matches at home, including UC Santa Barbara, and also hosts the 2001 MWC tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse. In addition to the MWC tournament, BYU will host Colorado and Southwest Missouri State in the annual BYU Mizuno Classic. The Cougars also play in the University of Washington's invitational, which also features Texas and Purdue, and travels to Hawaii to face the host Wahine and Loyola Marymount in September. In November, BYU plays in the Long Beach Thanksgiving Tournament, which also includes Cal Poly SLO. The Cougars will play a total of 12 away matches and four neutral site matches to complete its 28-match regular season schedule.

RULE CHANGES

Women's volleyball will take on a different look in 2001 with several new rule changes. The National Association for Girls and Women in Sports, the official rules-making body for women's collegiate volleyball, released the changes in its "2001-2002 NAGWS Official Rules, Interpretations & Officiating Rulebook." The most noticeable difference this season will be the move from sideout volleyball to a rally scoring format where each play will result in a point. The first four games will be scored to 30 points, with the winner holding a two-point lead. The fifth and deciding game will be played to 15 with the winner leading by two points. Other significant changes involve the serve. Players must serve the ball within eight seconds after the referee authorizes service and will not be allowed a second toss for service. Further, the collegiate game will mimic the international game with the let serve. A served ball will remain in play if it hits the net and continues its path to the opposition's court. A service ace can be earned if the ball falls to the opposition's side of the court on the serve, despite contact with the net on service. The international pursuit rule was also added as an experimental rule for the upcoming season, and can be implemented in a match by agreement of both coaches. The rule allows for a player to retrieve a ball (on second contact) that has crossed the plane of the net to the opponent's free space, provided that player does not touch the opponent's court and sends the ball back to their court, over or outside the antennas, for an opportunity for the third contact.

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE

BYU is a member of the Mountain West Conference. Six of the eight MWC programs have competed in postseason action over the years while the other two programs have only been in competition since 1996. Since the MWC was founded in 1999, BYU, Colorado State and Utah have represented the conference in the NCAA tournament both seasons. Last year all three teams were ranked in the top 20. Overall, BYU has made 19 NCAA appearances and Colorado State has made 12. The reigning Mountain West Conference Tournament Champions, BYU will again be among the top contenders for the MWC title. The Cougars are a slight favorite to edge Colorado State, according to the MWC preseason coaches poll. The Cougars have a 25-3 regular season record in two years of MWC play after finishing second in 2000 with a 12-2 mark. The Cougars won the inaugural regular season title in 1999 with a 13-1 record before finishing second to Colorado State at the MWC tournament. The Rams won the regular season title last year with a 13-1 record, with the lone loss coming at BYU. The Cougars went on to win last year's MWC Tournament title in Fort Collins, Colo., avenging both regular season conference losses with wins over Utah and Colorado State, ending the Rams' nation-best 44-match home winning streak. The Cougars, Rams and Utes were all top-20 teams in 2000 and should again compete for the conference title. San Diego State was on the bubble of the NCAA tournament last year and could factor into the title hunt. BYU will host the 2001 MWC Tournament, Nov. 15-17, at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo.

MWC PRESEASON VOLLEYBALL COACHES POLL

In a vote of the eight head coaches in the Mountain West Conference, BYU is the favorite to win the 2001 MWC title after earning five first-place votes and 46 points. Colorado State, which finished with three first-place votes and 45 points in the poll, is second, followed by Utah, San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico, Wyoming and Air Force. Last year's preseason poll foreshadowed the tight race between BYU and Colorado State, which tied for first in the 2000 poll. Colorado State captured the regular season MWC title with a 13-1 record, but the Cougars won a thrilling five-game match over the Rams in the championship match of the McLeodUSA MWC Championship to earn the league's first-ever NCAA automatic bid.

ELAINE MICHAELIS PROFILE

Now in her 40th year at the helm of the BYU program, Elaine Michaelis also enters her seventh year as Director of Women's Athletics. A proven winner, Michaelis is second all-time in Division I victories with an 873-217-5 record (since records were kept in 1969) and has the most wins ever by a female coach. With BYU's 26-7 record last season, Michaelis posted her 27th consecutive 20-win season and her 29th in 32 years since records have been kept at BYU beginning in 1969. She has never had a losing season. Her team won last year's Mountain West Tournament title after winning the previous season's inaugural MWC regular season title. She has the distinction of winning the inaugural championship in each of the five leagues in which BYU has been a volleyball member. Michaelis is 25-3 in MWC play in two years and now has an overall conference mark of 347-33. She has guided her team to the NCAA tournament 19 times in the 20-year history of NCAA control of the sport, including 11 straight appearances. Her teams have participated in 29 of 32 national tournaments. BYU's two wins last year in the NCAA tournament improved Michaelis' national tournament record to 73-43 (.629). Michaelis is 26-19 (.578) in the NCAA tournament.

2000 SEASON SUMMARY

The Cougars won the Mountain West Conference Tournament and were ranked as high as No. 10 in 2000 while advancing to the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the fifth straight season, finishing 26-7. The tournament appearance was BYU's 11th straight and its 19th in the 20 years of the NCAA tournament. With its ninth-place tie in the tournament, BYU recorded its 20th overall top-10 national finish in the 32 years the Cougars have competed at the national level. All seven Cougar losses in 2000 were to teams ranked in the top 20 during the season, including a season-ending loss to No. 5 Arizona in the NCAA Central Regional Semifinals in Lincoln, Neb.

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