PROVO -- It will be instate rivalry week for the BYU women's volleyball team as it gets set to play at Utah State Tuesday and No. 20 Utah Friday. The Cougars are currently 7-10 overall and 2-2 in Mountain West Conference play.
The Cougars are coming off a weekend split of conference matches at home as they were downed by Air Force, but rebounded to sweep New Mexico.
Senior rightside hitter Allison Larson is growing more comfortable in her new position and ranks eighth in the MWC with 3.33 kills per game, while ranking ninth in attack percentage at .324. Last week she led the Cougars in each match with 13 kills apiece and averaged 3.71 kpg while hitting .380.
Sophomore Lindsey Metcalf has seen action as a rightside hitter and an outside hitter this season, but with sudden injuries to the lineup, she has been pressed into service as a middle blocker. While still learning a new position, Metcalf picked up a career-high 17 blocks in her second match at the position (Sept. 28 vs. UNLV). Since then she has led BYU in blocking in each match. Her 1.93 bpg average is tops in the MWC.
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Lexi Brown continues to be sidelined by a torn ACL and junior transfer Laura Nielsen is still out with a broken foot. As a result of injuries and position switching, true freshman Kim Wilson has been elevated to start at outside hitter. Wilson led the team in attempts (25) versus New Mexico while racking up 11 kills on a career-high .360 hitting. She narrowly missed her first career double-double as she had nine digs.
The Cougars will continue their sojourn through a demanding schedule. Utah will be the fifth opponent the Cougars will face that is currently ranked in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll (Other teams include No. 1 USC, No. 3 Florida, No. 16 Washington State and No. 25 Texas A&M.
LOOKING AT UTAH
Utah (13-4, 3-1 MWC) is in the midst of one its most anticipated seasons in history. After peaking at No. 8, the highest ranking in school history earlier this year, the Utes are currently ranked 20th. The Utes have not lost consecutive matches this season and are a perfect 8-0 at home. Last week the Utes picked up a pair of conference wins by downing New Mexico and Air Force at home.
Utah is led by Kim Turner who averages 3.73 kpg and 1.53 bpg, and Sylva Strzinkova who averages 3.97 kpg and 2.51 dpg. Turner tied a season and career-high with 22 kills in the Utes win over the Lobos. For her efforts Turner was named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season and sixth time overall. The Cougars hold a 61-9 all-time edge over the Utes, but Utah has taken the last two meetings from BYU.
LOOKING AT UTAH STATE
With only two starters returning from last year's 20-11 team, the Aggies are struggling to find a rhythm, but have posed a difficult challenge for the Cougars in recent years. Utah State (6-8) enters its match-up with BYU having lost five of its last six matches, and have been swept three times in that span. Two of the losses, though, have come at the hands of Big West Conference opponents No. 6 Long Beach State and No. 7 UC Santa Barbara.
The Aggies were swept twice in conference play last week to No. 7 UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. Utah State returns home where it is winless this season (0-2). The Cougars hold a 45-11 all-time advantage over the Aggies, but BYU was 0-2 versus Utah State last year, including a season-ending loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Cougars will play the Aggies Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum and will play the Utes Friday at 7 p.m. on Crimson Court.