Redshirt freshman Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock leads the Cougars into Mountain West Conference play this weekend against Colorado State on Friday at 7 p.m. and Wyoming on Saturday at 7 p.m. She leads BYU with a .365 attack percentage and averages 1.46 bpg. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Riding a five-match win streak, the BYU women's volleyball team will open its Mountain West Conference schedule this weekend with critical matches against Colorado State (9-4) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Wyoming (10-4) on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both matches are scheduled to be held in the Smith Fieldhouse.
Additionally, Friday's match against the Rams will be broadcast live on BYU-TV, KBYU and BYU-Radio. Links to these matches are available on the 2003 schedule page of the BYU women's volleyball homepage at www.byucougars.com.
"We're excited for conference play to begin," BYU coach Karen Lamb said. "We had a competitive non-conference schedule to begin the season, and that's prepared us to enter MWC play with confidence.
"We've had great fan support this season, and this is a big weekend that the fans will enjoy."
Entering MWC play, BYU has the most efficient attack of any conference team, hitting at a .256 clip. Quarterbacked by sophomore setter Lauren Richards, who has 12 matches under her belt as a starting setter, the Cougars offense has improved each week, and BYU is coming off its most offensive stretch hitting a combined .374 in sweeps of Utah Valley State and Nevada.
The Cougars have also proven themselves as a national blocking power. They currently average 2.89 blocks per game, third in the MWC and in the top 25 nationally. Redshirt freshman Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock leads the BYU block, averaging 1.46 bpg. Lewis Hartsock is coming off consecutive weekends where she set career highs in blocking (11) and hitting (.846).
Of the four MWC Player of the Week awards, BYU has garnered two, with Richards and Carrie Bowers being named once each. Kim Wilson took home the BYU Mizuno Classic Most Valuable Player award for leading BYU to the tournament crown with a 3-0 record. Wilson leads the team in averaging 4.05 kpg.
BYU's five-match win streak is it's longest in over two years and the lengthiest of Lamb's tenure. In the past two weeks, BYU has defeated No. 8 Penn State, preseason top-25 Ohio State and 2002 NCAA Tournament qualifier Nevada.
"We still have lots of room to improve, but we've been getting better with each successive week," Lamb said. "This team has tremendous potential and it's fun to coach a group that consistently want to get better."
Week #4 in Review ...
BYU extended its win streak to five with a pair of wins over UVSC and Nevada. It was the Cougars' most offensive weekend of the season as they hit a collective .374. BYU also swept both opponents, marking the second and third Cougar sweeps this season and first since the season-opening tournament in Florida.
The Cougars' current five-match win streak is the longest of BYU coach Karen Lamb's two-year tenure and the longest BYU has enjoyed in over two years. Between Sept. 1, 2001 and Oct. 5, 2001, BYU rode a nine-match win streak, which was broken by CSU in Fort Collins.
Cougars Continue Home Stand
BYU will open Mountain West Conference play and conclude a seven-match home stand with matches against Colorado State on Friday at 7 p.m. and Wyoming on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both matches are scheduled to be played in the Smith Fieldhouse.
On Television, Radio and Online
The Cougars will have their match against Colorado State broadcast live on KBYU-TV (Channel 11), BYUTV (Dish Network [channel 9403] and DirecTV PLUS [channel 374]) and BYU-Radio. Additionally, a live audio/video stream of the BYU vs. CSU match will be available online. All links to broadcast matches and Live Stats of all home matches will be available via the BYU women's volleyball home page at www.byucougars.com.
The Maturation of Richards
In her first full collegiate season as a setter, Lauren Richards played in her 11th and 12th matches at her new position in leading BYU to a pair of wins over Utah Valley State College and Nevada. Richards had struggled with even ball distribution to every player in the lineup early in the year, but displayed her growth as a setter in quarterbacking BYU to a pair of offensively prolific wins last week. Attempts were distributed evenly as every player was able to contribute on the offensive end. Additionally, as she has been all season, Richards was an all-around force. Specifics of her week are provided below. Richards also tied for the team lead in service aces (two), and was second on the team with 13 digs (2.17 dpg) and seven blocks (1.17 bpg).
Richards averaged 12.83 assists, 2.17 digs, 1.67 kills, 1.17 blocks and .33 aces per game while the Cougars hit .374 (compared to opponents .115). Two weeks ago in being named the MWC Co-Player of the Week, Richards averaged 11.38 assists, 2.31 digs, 1.62 kills, 1.15 blocks and .54 aces per game while BYU hit .234 (compared to opponents .177)
Offensively Prolific Cougars
BYU hit a season-high .422 against Utah Valley State College and hit .333 in a sweep of Nevada. Cumulatively, BYU hit .374 on the week.
BYU Ball Distribution
Seven players averaged more than 2.00 kpg, including April Varner (4.50), Kim Wilson (4.00), Carrie Bowers (3.33), Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock (2.67), Lindsey Metcalf (2.60), Lexi Brown (2.50) and Laura Nielsen (2.40).
Six players had between 25 and 41 attempts, averaging between four to eight attempts per game, including Kim Wilson (41), Lindsey Metcalf (39), Carrie Bowers (35), and Laura Nielsen, Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock and Lauren Richards with 25 each. Entering the week Wilson and Bowers led the Cougars seeing 42 percent of all attempts. Last week Wilson and Bowers saw 35 percent of sets.
Five players hit .360 or better (and no worse than .179), including Carrie Bowers (.571), Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock (.560), Lexi Brown (.455), April Varner (.438) and Laura Nielsen (.360). Kim Wilson (.293), Richards (.280) and Lindsey Metcalf (.179) rounded out the other three Cougars that led the offense.
Lindsy Lewis-Hartosck hit a career-high .846 against Nevada, putting down 11 kills (11-0-13).
First in the Mountain West
Entering the week, BYU was hitting .239 as a team. After last week, the Cougars are hitting .256, which has vaulted them into first among Mountain West Conference teams.
The Perfection of Bowers
Carrie Bowers had her most effective week of the season. She posted a career-high .643 hitting percentage against UVSC (9-0-14) and followed that up with a .524 (11-0-21) performance against Nevada. On the week her hitting percentage was .571 with 20 kills and zero attack errors. In the match against UVSC, Bowers did not play the entire match, as UVSC transfer rightside hitter Mandi Kiholm played in the second and third games. Bowers tied for the team lead with 20 kills on the week and was also third on the team with 10 digs (1.67 dpg).
Last Week's Quality of Opponent
Nevada is a 2002 NCAA Tournament team that went 22-10. This season the Wolf Pack have defeated Arizona State and Utah, while losing to top-25 teams Long Beach State and California. BYU held Nevada to a season-low .045 attack percentage, while hitting at a .333 clip, the best any Wolf Pack opponent has hit against them this season. UVSC is in its first year of NCAA Division I play, after spending numerous years as a NJCAA national power. In 2002, the Wolverines finished the season ranked No. 2 after a 26-5 season. The Cougars hit a season-high .422 against UVSC (the highest of any opponent). The Wolverines have played three matches against 2002 NCAA Tournament teams in Utah, Missouri and Washington State, emerging with a 1-2 record, with the win coming over WSU, which finished 2002 ranked seventh. Against UVSC, the three teams hit .276, .148 and .073, respectively.
Outside Hitting Triumvirate
The three-headed outside hitting combination of Kim Wilson, Lindsey Metcalf and April Varner is proving to be effective. Wilson and Metcalf have enjoyed starting duties for the last two weeks, but Varner has entered various matches in relief of Metcalf and has seen instant success. Against Nevada, Varner played the last two games and put down nine kills, while hitting .438. Soon after Metcalf exited the match, she re-entered for a struggling Wilson.
BYU Block is Back
BYU's block is coming alive after a slow start to the season. The Cougars out-blocked Nevada and UVSC a combined 18.5-10. As a team, BYU is now averaging 2.89 blocks per game.
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, but made her Cougar debut against UVSC on Friday. Erica Lott continues to be bothered by lower back pain, but has recently returned to practice.
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.
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.
Best and Worst Starts to a Season
The Cougars' best-ever start to a season is 23-0 in 1977, a year in which they finished 34-5. BYU's worst start to a season is 1979 when it started 0-2. The Cougars have never lost more than two matches in a row to start a season.
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.