Weekly Release #5 - Cougars To Open Conference Schedule

To Play San Diego State and UNLV

PROVO -- After a 5-8 start to its season, the BYU women's volleyball team, beset by inexperience and injury, welcomes the beginning of Mountain West Conference play, as it takes on San Diego State Friday and UNLV Saturday.

"This is an important weekend for our team," head coach Karen Lamb said. "We have been consistently improving our play as a team and we have had a good week of practices. We know we need to play well and win."

With its offense searching for consistency, it's been BYU's block that has kept them in matches. The Cougars are currently No. 7 nationally with 3.42 blocks per game, and junior middle blocker Carrie Bowers is fourth nationally with 1.69 bpg.

Junior setter Karina Puikkonen continues to be an all-around force. In addition to dishing out 10.53 assists per game she is averaging 1.56 kills, 1.84 digs, 1.24 blocks and 0.33 service aces per game.

Allison Larson leads the Cougars with 2.64 kpg as she settles into the rightside hitter position. Larson and Bowers led BYU last week as each chalked up 2.19 bpg.

On the injury front, redshirt freshman middleblocker Lexi Brown continues to be sidelined with a torn ACL and junior transfer middle blocker Laura Nielsen is out of the lineup with a broken foot.

In San Diego State and UNLV, the Cougars will face teams that are headed in opposite directions.

The Aztecs are coming off a tournament championship, on the strength of winning three matches, at the Black and Gold Challenge hosted by Wake Forest. San Diego State has also reeled off a streak in which they've won five of six matches.

Junior middleblocker Aspen McPartland was named tournament MVP as she recorded two double-doubles in three matches as well as garnering a career-high 19 kills versus Wake Forest. BYU is 25-13 overall against San Diego State with its last meeting a Cougar sweep.

UNLV is coming off a winless weekend, where it lost three matches at the Fresno State Quadrangular. Including an exhibition loss to Olymp Praha Monday, a professional team from the Czech Republic, the Rebels have lost six consecutive matches and have dropped eight of their past nine.

Leiana Oswald leads the Rebel attack as she averages 3.23 kpg with a .184 attack percentage. BYU is 9-1 all-time versus UNLV with the last meeting resulting in UNLV's first-ever win against the Cougars (1-3) in 2001.

BYU is scheduled to play San Diego State Friday at 8 p.m. MDT and UNLV Saturday at 8 p.m. MDT. The Cougars will next be at home when they host Air Force and New Mexico on Oct. 4 and 5, respectively.

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