Weekly Release #6 -- BYU Travels to Wyoming, No. 9 CSU

PROVO -- After playing seven straight home matches, BYU returns to the road this week to meet Mountain West Conference opponents Wyoming and No. 9 Colorado State. The Cougars play the Cowgirls Friday and the Rams Saturday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.

The Cougars have won eight straight matches, including five consecutive three-game sweeps. BYU leaves the friendly confines of the Smith Fieldhouse, where the Cougars have an 18-match home court victory streak, for only the second time this season. The Cougars have not played away from Provo since Sept. 1 because their last trip to Hawaii was canceled due to the terrorist attacks on America.

"This is a big trip for us this week, being our first conference road matches," BYU coach Elaine Michaelis said. "We look forward to the challenges presented in playing in Laramie and Fort Collins. We will need to play well. Obviously, Colorado State is a very good team and they have great fan support. We will have to play our best to have a chance to win."

BYU is led by senior All-American Nina Puikkonen and junior Sunny Mahe, who was named the AVCA National Player of the Week for her outstanding peformance in BYU's three wins last week.

Wyoming is 6-4 this year, with a 5-1 record in Laramie. The Cowgirls are 1-1 in conference play with a win at UNLV and a loss at San Diego State last week. BYU has a 47-3 series record vs. Wyoming, including an 18-2 record in Laramie.

Colorado State is the top-ranked team in the MWC with a perfect 10-0 record and 2-0 MWC mark. The Rams are nearly unbeatable at home, having lost only once in their last 52 matches at Moby Arena. The Rams' lone setback, however, did come against BYU in the last meeting between the two national powers in last year's MWC Championship match. BYU is 42-10-1 all-time vs. Colorado State, including a 15-7 record in Fort Collins, but CSU has won three of the last four in Fort Collins, including the last three regular season matches.


Friday, Oct. 5, 2001

No. 14 BYU (9-1, 3-0 MWC) at Wyoming (6-4, 1-1)

Multi-Purpose Gym (1,200) • Laramie, Wyo. • 7 p.m. MDT

Saturday, Oct. 6, 2001

No. 14 BYU at No. 9 Colorado State (10-0, 2-0)

Moby Arena (8,745) • Fort Collins, Colo. • 7 p.m. MDT


The Wyoming Cowgirls are 6-4 overall, 1-1 in the MWC. The Cowgirls recorded wins over UT-Arlington, Oklahoma, Idaho State, Wake Forest, St. Mary's and UNLV. Wyoming has losses to San Diego, Cincinnati, Furman and San Diego State. Rachel Lau, Sara Maytorena and Michele Rauter tallied double figure kills in each of last week's matches. Rauter leads the team, averaging 4.07 kills per game for a .314 hitting percentage and 2.43 digs per game. Melissa Robinett adds 3.08 kills per game 1.21 digs per game and 1.04 blocks per game. Amy Doman averages 12.63 assists per game and 2.10 digs per game. Head coach Susan Steadman is in her sixth year at Wyoming. She posts a 111-120 overall record and a 74-90 record at Wyoming.


The Cougars have a 47-3 series record vs. Wyoming, including an 18-2 record in Laramie. BYU has won 22 straight in the series since Wyoming's 3-1 win in Laramie on Nov. 17, 1989.


Location: Laramie, Wyoming

Enrollment: 10,800

Nickname: Cowgirls

Colors: Brown and Wyoming Praire Gold

Facility: MultiPurpose Gym (1,200)

Conference: Mountain West


Series Record: 47-3-0

Last Meeting: 2000

Result: BYU (3-0)

Head Coach: Susan Steadman

Overall Record (Years): 111-120 (8th)

Record at School (Years): 74-90 (6th)

Assistant Coaches: Mark McCloskey, Phoung Loung

2000 Overall Record: 10-22

2000 Conference Record/Finish: 2-12/7th

2000 Final Ranking/Post Season

Finish: N/A


Starters Returning/Lost: 4/2

Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 8/4

Top Returners:

Rachel Lau, 6-2, Sr., MB,

Katy Brown, 5-10, So., S

Top Newcomers:

Amy Doman, 5-9, Fr., S

Sara Maytorena, 6-0, Fr., OH


Volleyball Contact: Amy Dambro

Phone: (307) 766-2256

FAX: (307) 766-2346

Courtside Phone: (307) 766-2222

E-mail: montross@uwyo.com

Website: www.wyomingathletics.com


Colorado State is 10-0 and 2-0 in the Mountain West Conference with three-game wins over UNLV and San Diego State. Ranked nineth in the nation, CSU also has wins over Arkansas, Murray State, Utah State, Georgia Tech, LSU, Georgetown and St. Mary's. The Rams rank first in five of seven statistical categories in the Mountain West. They lead in hitting percentage, assists, blocks, opponent hitting percentage and kills. They are second in aces and digs. Angela Knopf averages 4.55 kills per game for a .522 hitting percentage, 2.61 digs and 1.76 blocks per game to lead the Rams. Courtney Cox adds 4.29 kills, 2.97 digs and 1.00 blocks per game. Allison Peckham averages 13.44 assists and 2.22 digs per game. Coach Tom Hilbert is in his 5th year at CSU. He posts a 123-22 record at CSU and a 297-94 career record in his 13th season.


BYU is 42-10-1 all-time vs. Colorado State, including a 15-7 record in Fort Collins. BYU won the last meeting, ending CSU's nation-best 44-match home court win streak to earn the 2000 MWC Tournament title in a five-game thriller. The two national powers have split their eight matches. CSU has won three of the last four in Fort Collins, including the last three regular season matches at Moby Arena.


Location: Fort Collins, Colorado

Enrollment: 22,600

Nickname: Rams

Colors: Green and Gold

Facility: Moby Arena

Conference: Mountain West


Series Record: 42-10-1

Last Meeting: 2000

Result: BYU (3-2)

Head Coach: Tom Hilbert

Overall Record (Years): 297-94 (13th)

Record at School (Years): 123-22 (5th)

Assistant Coaches: Karrie Larsen, Andy Klussmann

2000 Overall Record: 32-5

2000 Conference Record/Finish: 13-1/1st

2000 Final Ranking/Post Season

Finish: 10th/NCAA Regional Semifinal


Starters Returning/Lost: 4/2

Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 8/3

Top Returners:

Allison Peckham, 5-10, Sr., S

Courtney Cox, 6-0, Sr., OH

Angela Knopf, 6-1, Sr., MB

Top Newcomers:

Andreya Downs, 6-3, Fr., MB


Volleyball Contact: Heather Kennedy

Phone: (970) 491-5705

FAX: (970) 491-1348

Courtside Phone: (970) 491-3981

E-mail: hkennedy@lamar.colost.edu

Website: CSURams.com


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 extended its home winning streak to 18 matches with three 3-0 victories last week over then-No. 19 UC Santa Barbara, New Mexico and Air Force. BYU hit .367 as a team in its three wins while holding the opposition to a .110 attack percentage. BYU was dominating, averaging 18.44 kills and 15.22 digs compared to its opponent's 10.89 kills and 11.11 digs. BYU also averaged 2.78 blocks per game to 1.39 by its opponents. Three Cougars averaged four kills or better per game during the week. Sunny Mahe had 41 kills (4.56 kpg) and Nina Puikkonen and Jackie Bundy each had 36 (4.00 kpg).Natalie Whittaker averaged a team-best 3.22 digs per game this week while hitting .304 with 19 kills (2.11 kpg). All 10 available players saw action during BYU's three wins. Sophomore middle blocker Carrie Bowers was out with a foot injury. She is still doubtful this coming week.


BYU coach Elaine Michaelis will coach her 1,100th recorded (since 1969) match in Saturday's match at CSU. She has won 80 percent of those matches, with 876 wins entering the week. She is second in all-time Division I victories.


BYU has won each of the last five matches in three-game sweeps. Overall, BYU has seven 3-0 wins this year, one four-game win and one five-game victory. BYU's loss was in five games to now nationally ranked Texas.


BYU has an eight-match winning streak. The Cougars are 7-0 at home this year and own a 18-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.


On the year, Sunny Mahe leads the Cougars with 172.5 points (4.93 ppg), followed by Nina Puikkonen with 171.5 (4.90 ppg) and Jackie Bundy with 146.0 (4.17 ppg).


Nina Puikkonen has recorded double-digit kills in all 10 matches this year, while Sunny Mahe has reached double figures in nine of 10, including the last nine straight. Jackie Bundy has reached double-digit kills six times, including three of the last four matches.


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 35 games at one outside spot, while redshirt freshman Becky Warnick (22 games) and junior college transfer Allison Larson (15 games) have each seen time on the front row at the other spot. An injured ankle kept Larson out of the Utah match. Sophomore defensive specialist Uila Crabbe has played back row in all 35 games this year.


Sophomore setter Karina Puikkonen continued her stellar play last week. She set BYU to a .367 team hitting percentage while tossing up 13.22 assists per game. She also averaged 2.00 kills, 2.33 digs, 1.11 blocks and 0.44 aces per game for the week. On the year, she is among conference and national leaders in hitting with a .473 attack percentage while averaging 1.80 kills, 12.17 assists, 1.91 digs and 0.97 blocks. She set a carer high .667 attack percentage against Utah, with eight kills in 12 dump attempts with no errors. Karina has hit .500 or better in seven of BYU's 10 matches this year and leads the Cougars with a .473 season hitting percentage. She set a career high with 10 kills vs. Colorado while hitting a match-high .529 with only one error in 17 attempts.


Nina Puikkonen moved into second place on BYU's all-time block assist and total blocks lists last week. She surpassed former All-American and U.S. National Team player Amy Steele Gant in block assists Wednesday vs. UC Santa Barbara and then overtook Gant in total blocks vs. Air Force Saturday. She needs seven more block solos to pass Gant into fourth place in that category. Puikkonen has 697 career total blocks, including 603 block assists. Even though Puikkonen is by far BYU's all-time leader in blocking average (1.91 bpg), she needs another 192 blocks to overtake total blocks leader Dylann Duncan (1985-88) because volleyball teams played more matches each year during Duncan's career. Duncan is second in average (1.63 bpg). Even if BYU played all 35 possible matches this season, Duncan will have played in 29 more matches than Puikkonen during their respective four-year careers. 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.


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.


Mahe Becomes Third Cougar to Ever Earn the National Honor

Sunny Mahe, a 6-2 junior right side/opposite hitter for the 14th-ranked BYU Cougars (9-1), was selected the AVCA/Sports Imports Division I National Player of the Week Monday. Mahe also garnered Mountain West Conference Player of the Week honors for the second time this year and the third time during her career.Mahe hit a team-best .554 attack percentage to guide the Cougars to three 3-0 victories last week with wins over then-No. 19 UC Santa Barbara, New Mexico and Air Force. She averaged 4.56 kills, 1.00 blocks, 1.78 digs, 1.11 assists and 0.44 service aces per game. For the week, she tallied 41 kills with just five attack errors on 65 swings. Mahe charted 12 kills, five blocks, six digs and six assists against UC Santa Barbara while hitting .357. She added 13 kills as part of a .647 attack percentage versus New Mexico, followed by a MWC season-high .750 hitting percentage with a match-best 16 kills on 20 attacks against Air Force. Mahe has topped the .600 hitting percentage mark in a match four times this year. Mahe has tallied double-digit kills in each of the last nine matches and ranks third in MWC matches for kills per game (4.33) and hitting percentage (.550). The native of Allen, Texas, is the third BYU player to win the AVCA National Player of the Week award. Current teammate Nina Puikkonen and former Cougar Amy Steele Gant also have won the award, both winning it twice. A first-team AVCA All-American, Puikkonen was the only player in the country to receive the honor twice last season. Gant was recognized in 1996 and 1997.

2001 AVCA Sports Imports Division I National Players of the Week:

Sept. 4 -- Lizzy Fitzgerald, Sr., S, Wisconsin

Sept. 10 -- Amber Holmquist, Jr., MB, Nebraska

Sept. 17 -- No selection

Sept. 24 -- Kim Willoughby, So. OH, Hawai'i

Oct. 1 -- Sunny Mahe, Jr., RS/Opp, BYU

2001 Mountain West Conference Players of the Week:

Sept. 4 -- Sunny Mahe, Jr., RS/Opp, BYU

Sept. 10 -- Rachel Lau, Sr., MB, Wyoming

Sept. 17 -- No selection

Sept. 24 -- Angela Knopf, Sr., MB, Colorado State

Oct. 1 -- Sunny Mahe, Jr., RS/Opp, BYU


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. BYU had won 13 straight matches entering the NCAA Central Regional in Lincoln. Junior middle blocker Nina Puikkonen was named to the AVCA All-America First Team and earned AVCA Sports Imports National Player of the Week honors twice (Sept. 11 and Nov. 20) during the season. She was the only player to earn the award more than once last season. Four BYU players earned All-MWC honors, including juniors Jackie Bundy (MB) and Nina Puikkonen (MB), sophomore Sunny Tonga (MB) and freshman Karina Puikkonen (S). Nina Puikkonen is a two-time All-MWC selection and three-time all-conference player (All-WAC as a freshman). Nina also earned four Mountain West Conference Player of the Week awards (Sept. 11, Oct. 16, Nov. 6, Nov. 20) while sophomore rightside hitter Sunny Tonga earned one MWC Player of the Week award (Oct. 30). Second all-time in division I wins, BYU coach Elaine Michaelis achieved her 850th career win with a 3-0 win over San Diego State on Sept. 23. Michaelis finished the season with an 867-216-5 overall record in 32 seasons since records were kept. She has won an amazing 80 percent of her matches and is the all-time leader in women's volleyball victories among female coaches. The Cougars defeated teams ranked No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 last season with wins over No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 Long Beach State and two wins over Colorado State when the Rams were ranked third and fourth. BYU's last win over the Rams was for the Mountain West Conference Tournament title and ended CSU's nation-best 44-match home court winning streak. The Cougars had a chance to beat a No. 5 team but dropped their bid losing to fifth-ranked Arizona in the NCAA Central Region semifinals. BYU played 14 matches last season against a ranked team. BYU had a 9-5 record in those matches with wins over Stanford, LBSU, Colorado State (2), Utah (2) and Kansas State, UCSB and Utah State. BYU has also played two matches, both losses, against teams who were not ranked at the time but later moved into the top 25 (Notre Dame and Utah State). The Cougars finished the year with an active streak of 11 straight home victories.


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 876-217-5 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 349-33. 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.