BYU coach Karen Lamb looks to guide the Cougars to a pair of wins over New Mexico and Air Force in Mountain West Conference play this week. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Entering the second week of Mountain West Conference play, the BYU women's volleyball team will embark on a road trip to play at New Mexico on Thursday at 7 p.m. and at Air Force on Friday at 7 p.m.
"This is a very important trip for our team," BYU coach Karen Lamb said. "Anything can happen in conference play, especially on the road. We have to play well, because our goal is to come out with two wins."
Currently listed as the No. 29 team with 21 votes in the most recent USA Today/AVCA Divison I Coaches Poll, the Cougars (10-4 overall, 1-1 MWC) will first face the Lobos (3-11, 0-1), who are in the midst of a eight-match losing streak. In that stretch, New Mexico has only managed to win three games.
BYU will conclude the trip by taking on the Falcons (10-4, 1-0) the following night. In its MWC opener last week, Air Force dismantled New Mexico with an easy sweep. With 10 wins on the season, the Falcons have matched their win total from the past two years combined.
Offensively, the Cougars have been led this season by the trio of Carrie Bowers (3.08 kpg), Kim Wilson (4.02 kpg) and April Varner (3.57 kpg).
As a team, on the national scale, BYU is a top-25 blocking team. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock continues to lead the Cougar blocking brigade and is among the top 25 blockers in the nation with an average of 1.42 blocks per game.
"We are improving as a team, but there is still a lot of room for us to grow," Lamb said. "We need to serve and pass more efficiently, we need to put up more digs and we need to be more disciplined in our blocking game."
Week #4 in Review ...
BYU opened its Mountain West Conference schedule at home with a split against Colorado State and Wyoming. On Friday, BYU was downed by the Rams 3-0, then rebounded to sweep the Cowgirls 3-0. The Cougars' record stands at 10-4 overall and 1-1 in the MWC.
Junior outside hitter Lindsey Metcalf led BYU with a .325 (min. 18 attempts) attack percentage on the week. In hitting .435 against Wyoming and .176 against Colorado State, she hit better than the team average in both matches of .342 and .123, respectively. Her .435 mark represents Metcalf's second-best output of the season (.471 vs. Rutgers, 8/29), and best since the season's opening weekend. She was second on the team with 18 kills (3.00 kpg) and 40 total attempts. Against Wyoming her 12 kills matched a season-high (12 kills vs. North Texas, 9/5).
Metcalf the Blocking Leader
Metcalf led BYU with 10 blocks on the week, recording at least twice as many blocks as any other Cougar. She tallied five blocks each against CSU and Wyoming. She led each match in blocks. Her 1.67 bpg average ranks her sixth in MWC competition. With 23.0 points, Metcalf led all BYU players.
Against Wyoming, Metcalf recorded her second double-double of the season with 12 kills and 10 digs. Her 10 digs tied for the team high on the night with April Varner. She tied for second on the team with 13 overall digs on the week.
The Cougars are half way to 20 wins. With its win against Wyoming on Sept. 27, BYU won its 10th match of the season. Last year, the Cougars didn't win their 10th match until Nov. 1 against New Mexico.
Varner Back in the Loop
April Varner made the best of her opportunity to start over the weekend. She put down a team-high 21 kills (4.50 kpg) and tied for second on the team with 13 digs (2.40 dpg).
Wilson Leads against the Rams
Kim Wilson came off the bench in the second game against Colorado State on Friday and proceeded to lead the Cougars with seven kills.
Cougar Block; Top-25 Nationally
With a block that's improving with each passing week, the Cougars again finished the week with an overall 19.5-14 blocking advantage over its opponents. BYU is in the top-25 nationally in blocking.
BYU drew over 1,000 fans against Colorado State (1,464) and Wyoming (1.094) over the weekend. In their seven home matches this season, the Cougars have drawn over 1,000 fans in five matches. The two matches that fell below the mark were day matches against Rice and Nevada that fell on the same days as BYU football games.
Of the 13 players on the BYU active roster, 12 saw action over the weekend. The only player not to see the court was backup setter Jenna Judkins.
Sophomore middle blocker Lexi Brown who hadn't seen action since Sept. 19 vs. UVSC, relieved Laura Nielsen in the second game against Wyoming proved to be an immediate favorite of setter Lauren Richards. Brown saw 14 attempts in about one and a half games. She put down six kills (.286) and tallied four blocks. On the season, Brown is third on the Cougars with a .323 attack percentage.
Let's Go Four!
The Cougars are 5-0 in four-game matches this season. Of the five matches, BYU lost the first game in three.
By the Numbers
BYU is 10-0 this season when it has a higher attack percentage than its opponent and is 7-0 when it has more digs than its opponent.
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, Sept. 19.
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.