BYU, the winners of two in a row, will go for more as they host the Rebels and the Aztecs, Friday and Saturday, respectively. Both matches will be held at the Smith Fieldhouse and will begin at 7 p.m. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Coming off its most impressive wins of the season at Colorado State and Wyoming last week, the BYU women's volleyball team returns to the Smith Fieldhouse to continue its Mountain West Conference schedule by hosting UNLV Friday and San Diego State Saturday. Both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m., and the match against the Aztecs is being billed as Cosmo Kids Club Night.
The Cougars improved their MWC record to 4-3 (9-12 overall) as they stand in a two-way tie for second in the conference with Utah. Last week BYU outlasted MWC leader CSU and Wyoming in five-game thrillers on consecutive nights.
As the Cougars look to build upon their increasing improvement, junior middle blocker Laura Nielsen is a key factor. Nielsen missed six matches because of a broken foot and returned to the lineup against the Rams. Her presence was instrumental in the Cougars' wins, and for her efforts Nielsen earned MWC Player of the Week honors. She had a career-high 11 kills in each match (2.44 kpg), a career-high .643 attack percentage against CSU (.531 for the week) and she led the team with four blocks in each match (0.89 bpg).
BYU's outside attack is starting to come to life as well. Sophomore April Varner collected a team-high 35 kills on the weekend, including a career-high 23 kills at Wyoming. With increased playing time true freshman Kim Wilson is gaining confidence and experience as she was third on the team with 25 kills in the two matches while hitting .305. On the rightside, Allison Larson continues to produce as she amassed 29 kills including career-highs of 18 kills and a .500 attack percentage at Wyoming.
As a team, BYU continues to be one of the top blocking teams in the nation. The Cougars are currently ranked 12th, averaging 3.06 blocks per game.
Hit with a bevy of injuries this season, BYU has officially lost one of its key players for the season, as redshirt freshman middle blocker Lexi Brown had surgery to repair a torn ACL. Sophomore Lindsey Metcalf continues to be hobbled by a sprained ankle and her status is day-to-day.
The Rebels and Aztecs have had contrasting season, but both teams are coming off a pair of wins over conference opponents last week.
The Rebels (6-14, 2-5 MWC) started the season 4-4, but endured a 10-match losing streak to fall to 4-14, before sweeping a pair of MWC matches against Air Force and New Mexico last weekend. Currently tied for fourth in the MWC, UNLV is winless on the road this season (0-6). BYU is 10-1 overall vs. UNLV and took a five-game match from the Rebels on Sept. 28.
The Rebels are led by Patricia Assuncao, who has led UNLV in kills in its last four matches. In MWC play she is averaging a team-high 3.36 kpg and 1.44 dpg while hitting .227.
San Diego State
The Aztecs (15-9, 6-1) are off to a fast start in MWC play and have been winning in impressive fashion. Since breaking an 11-match losing streak to BYU Sept. 27 the Aztecs have won five of their last seven matches. Last weekend SDSU was 2-1 with a pair of wins over New Mexico and UNLV, and a sweep at the hands of San Diego. BYU has dominated the series in recent years as it has won 22 of 26 matches since 1990. The overall record between the two teams stands at 25-14 in favor of BYU.
SDSU has a varied offense with three players averaging over three kills per game in MWC play. Leading the group is Aspen McPartland, who has twice been named MWC Player of the Week this season, who averages 3.11 kpg and a team-leading 3.53 dpg while hitting .345. Zlatina Anguelova is tops on the team with 3.78 kpg while Rochelle Currier is second with 3.63 kpg.
PARKING NOTICE FOR BYU HOME MATCHES
The construction of the new BYU Athletic Complex has changed parking procedures, but parking will still be available. Parking will be available in the lot east of Zion's Bank (accessible from University Avenue and Canyon Drive) and west of the Richards Building (accessible from 1230 N. Bulldog Avenue).