Weekly Release #8 - Aztecs and Rebels to Visit Cougars

Carrie Bowers, Laura Nielsen and Lindsey Metcalf lead the No. 19 block in the nation as BYU prepares to host San Diego State on Friday at 7 p.m. and UNLV on Saturday at 7 p.m. Both matches are scheduled for the Smith Fieldhouse. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- Approaching the midway point in its Mountain West Conference schedule, the BYU women's volleyball team will host San Diego State Friday at 7 p.m. and UNLV Saturday at 7 p.m. Both matches will be held in the Smith Fieldhouse.

After the conclusion of the Cougars' match against the Aztecs Friday, the BYU men's volleyball team will hold its annual Blue and White Scrimmage.

BYU (13-5 overall, 3-2 MWC) is currently tied for third in the MWC with SDSU (12-8, 3-2) and is the second-best hitting team in the conference with a .255 team attack percentage.

"These are two important conference matches for us," BYU coach Karen Lamb said. "We are improving our play as a team, but now we have to take the next step and translate that to wins on the court."

The Cougars are the only conference team to have three players ranked in the MWC top 10 for hitting percentage. Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock is third at .341, Carrie Bowers is seventh at .304 and Laura Nielsen is eighth at .295. Sophomore middle blocker Lexi Brown stood out last week, as she put down a career-high 16 kills against Utah, while hitting a team-beast .349 on the week.

A strong blocking team, BYU is the No. 19 blocking team in the nation with a 2.90 blocks per game average. Senior libero Uila Crabbe continues to lead the MWC with a 3.42 digs per game average.

SDSU has struggled at times this season, suffering through three two-match losing streaks, but remains a formidable defensive team that is ranked fifth in the nation with a 3.18 blocks per game average. The Aztecs are coming off a pair of wins over Air Force and New Mexico last week.

UNLV (8-8, 2-3) has been successful at home, but has struggled on the road with a 1-5 away record. The Rebels are also coming off a pair of wins over Air Force and New Mexico to even their record.

BYU drew its largest crowd of 2,312 fans out against Utah last Friday night. BYU has drawn over 1,000 fans in each of its three conference matches so far this season. Overall, the Cougars' average attendance is 1,379, tops in the MWC.

"It's imperative for us to get off to good starts in both these matches," Lamb said. "We have to come out with energy and protect our home-court advantage."

The Cougars will have their match against San Diego 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. SDSU 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.

Weekly Notes:

Week #7 in Review ...

BYU had its first early week match of the season when it played at Weber State on Tuesday night. After dropping a close first game, the Cougars took the next three to win the match. BYU then turned around to play instate rival Utah at home in the Smith Fieldhouse. After dropping the first two games, the Cougars rose to dominate the third, but the Utes rebounded to take the fourth game and the match.

Poll Position

After spending four consecutive weeks receiving votes in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll, BYU fell out of the polls as a listed team this week. The Cougars peaked as they were listed No. 26 on Sept. 26. Since the beginning of the AVCA Coaches Top 20 Poll in 1982, BYU has been ranked a total of 252 weeks, which ranks the Cougars eighth in NCAA history.

Offensively Okay

BYU is second in the MWC with a .255 team hitting percentage. The Cougars are the only team with three players in the MWC top 10 for hitting percentage (3-Lindsy Lewis-Hartsock .341; 7-Carrie Bowers .304; 8-Laura Nielsen .295).

Brown Bomber

Sophomore middle blocker Lexi Brown is proving to be an offensive force. Last week, she led BYU with a .349 attack percentage and was second on the team with 21 kills. Against Utah, Brown recorded a career-high 16 kills while hitting a match-high .448. On the season, Brown is the Cougars' most efficient attacker, hitting at a .359 clip.

Ten-Win Mark

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. BYU's next win will be its 14th, which would equal last year's win total.

Cougar Block; Top-25 Nationally

With a block that's improving with each passing week, moved up to the No. 19 spot in national blocking with a 2.90 blocks per game average.

BYU Attendance

BYU drew its largest crowd of 2,312 fans out against Utah on Friday night. This season, the Cougars have drawn three crowds of 2,000 or more. The others were against Ohio State (2,071) and UVSC (2,086). In their eight home matches this season, the Cougars have drawn over 1,000 fans in six 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. BYU's average attendance is 1,379, the best in the MWC.

By the Numbers

BYU is a perfect 13-0 this season when it has a higher attack percentage than its opponent and is 10-1 when it has more digs and aces than its opponent.

Injury Update

It is relatively quiet on the injury front for the Cougars. Other than various minor bumps and bruises there is nothing serious.

Iron Women

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.

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