Hometown: Murray, Utah ... High School: Murray ... Major: Zoology ... Parents: Veikko and Sirkka Puikkonen ... Family: Younger sister Karina also plays for the Cougars.
High School -- (1993-1996): 1995 and 1996 Murray High MVP ... three-year First Team All-Region ... 1996 Utah Senior All-Star Team and All-State selection Club: All-Region selection on the Utah Junior 18 Elite Red team. Honors: Student Sport Magazine prep All-America ... Volleyball magazine "Fab 50" selection ... 1996 Youth National Team selection and 1997 Youth National Team alternate.
CAREER MATCH HIGHS Kills: 32 vs. Cal Poly, 11/23/01 Percentage: .688 (12-16) vs. SJSU, 10/16/98 Digs: 20 vs. Cal Poly, 11/23/01 Blocks: 14 vs. Hawai'i, 11/28/98 Aces: 6 vs. Utah, 11/3/00 Assists: 4 vs. Utah, 11/3/00 CAREER AVERAGES .349 hitting percentage -- No. 1 all-time 3.96 kills per game -- No. 3 all-time 1.94 digs per game 1.87 blocks per game -- No. 1 all-time 0.22 service aces per game 0.19 assists per game YEAR-BY-YEAR STATISTICS Year MP-GP K E A Pct. Ast. SA SE RE Dig BS BA TB BE BHE 1998 34-107 340 108 681 .341 17 7 46 7 154 38 194 232 18 2 1999 33-110 472 133 910 .373 16 22 83 24 218 28 175 203 18 1 2000 33-113 467 146 898 .357 26 38 68 19 226 24 189 213 11 1 2001 29-104 441 147 914 .292 23 28 65 20 242 15 150 165 12 1 Total 129-434 1720 534 3403 .349 82 95 262 70 840 105 708 813 59 5
2015 BYU Hall of Fame
Former BYU women’s volleyball middle blocker Nina Puikkonen Mortensen is one of the more decorated female athletes in BYU history. Puikkonen Mortensen began her remarkable career at BYU as a redshirt freshman in 1998. In her first season as a Cougar she led the nation in blocking with an average of 2.17 blocks per set, setting a BYU record. Puikkonen Mortensen helped lead BYU to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. At the conclusion of the year, she named the 1998 Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and to the Volleyball Magazine Freshman All-American Team.
As a sophomore in 1999, Puikkonen Mortensen led BYU to a 28-5 overall record, a conference championship and a Sweet 16 appearance in BYU’s first season as a member of the Mountain West Conference. She followed her junior season with an invite to play on the A-2 U.S. Women’s National Team, one of just 14 players throughout the country to make the team.
Despite being hampered by a leg injury throughout her senior season, Puikkonen Mortensen capped off her time as a Cougar by averaging a conference-best 4.24 kills per game. In Puikkonen’s remarkable BYU career, she received All-American accolades in 1998, 1999 and 2000, in addition to being named a four-time all-conference selection. She ended her time as a Cougar as the all-time leader at BYU in blocks per game (1.87) and finished No. 1 in career hitting percentage (.349), No. 3 in kills per game (3.96), No. 4 in solo blocks (105) and top-10 in career digs (840).
Following her time at BYU, Puikkonen Mortensen went on to play with the U.S. National Team in 2002 before finishing the year playing professional volleyball in Finland. After taking gold in the top league, Puikkonen Mortensen began her coaching career as an assistant at Utah Valley State College (UVU) for two seasons. She retired from coaching after her stint at UVSC to raise her family.
Volleyball soon came calling again and in 2012 she joined the Utah Unity — a new professional women’s volleyball team sponsored by the Intermountain Volleyball Association — where she helped her team take fifth at nationals in her one season.
Puikkonen Mortensen graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 2002 and a master’s in exercise science in 2007. She and her husband Ryan have four children – Elina, Tyler, Maija and Jakob.
Led the nation in blocking with an average of 2.17 per game and a season total of 232 blocks ... became the first Division I player in five years to average more than two blocks a game ... had a career-high in kills, digs and blocks in the WAC Championship match against Hawai`i in which she had 25 kills, 19 digs and 14 blocks ... recorded double-digits in blocking six times during the season ... led the Cougars in kills in NCAA Central Regional Final vs. Penn State with 17 kills ... was named WAC Freshman of the Year as well as to the WAC Pacific Division 1st Team ... named to the CoSIDA All-Region VII Team ... named to the Central Regional All-Tournament Team ... ended the season second on the team in kills with 340 and a .341 hitting percentage.
Named Second Team All-American by both the AVCA and Volleyball magazine ... was named the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year ... member of the AVCA All-District VII Team ... named to the Mountain West Conference Championship All-Tournament Team ... Two-time conference Player of the Week (Oct. 4-10, Nov. 1-7) ... all-tournament team selection in Georgia Outback Invitational and Loyola Marymount Invitational ... led the Mountain West Conference in hitting percentage (.373), blocks (1.85) and kills (4.29) ... her 1.85/game blocking average placed third in the nation and is the second-highest single season blocking average in BYU history (her 2.17 average as a freshman is the BYU record).
A three-time All-American, Nina was named to the AVCA All-America First Team and was the only player selected AVCA National Player of the Week twice last season ... named to the all-west region team ... was the MWC Player of the Week four times last year and was an all-conference selection for the third straight year ... finished second nationally in blocks per game (1.88) ... was named the MVP of the MWC tournament after leading the Cougars to the tournament championship ... recorded double-digit kills in 28 of 33 matches ... had 20 or more kills in four matches, including a season-high 25 kills against LBSU ... had a team-high nine double-doubles and two triple-doubles ( both vs. Utah) ... led BYU in kills (467), block solos (24), block assists (189), total blocks (213) and was second with 38 service aces and 226 digs ... had team-best averages of 4.13 kpg, 1.88 bpg and a .357 hitting percentage ... in MWC conference matches she was first in the MWC in kills (4.30) and service aces (0.43), second in the in blocks (1.68), and third in hitting (.369) ... was selected to the Verizon Academic District VIII Third Team ... among 14 players selected to the A-2 US Women's National Team in mid-April 2001.
A three-time All-American, Puikkonen capped off her career by averaging a conference-best 4.24 kills per game and ranked second in blocks (1.59), and eighth in attack percentage (.292) to go with 2.33 digs a game ... ranked 11th in blocks nationally ... named to All-Mountain West Team to complete four-year all-conference career ... selected to all-tournament teams at the MWC championship, Point Huskies Invitational and BYU Mizuno Classic ... earned academic all-conference honors and Verizon Academic All-District VIII Second Team ... hampered by leg injury during season but had a team-best 27 double-figure kill matches ... had 11 double-digit dig nights and three efforts with 10 or more blocks ... recorded a team-high 13 double-doubles in 2001 ... had her fourth career triple-double with career highs of 32 kills and 20 digs along with a season-high 11 blocks versus Cal Poly SLO on Nov. 23 ... finished season with 441 kills to pass Gale Johnson for fifth in all-time kills at BYU (1720) ... passed former BYU All-American and U.S. National Team member Amy Steele Gant for second all-time in total blocks (806) and block assist (701) ... is the school's all-time leader in blocks per game (1.87) and finished with the No. 1 career hitting percentage (.349), No. 3 in kills per game (3.96), No. 4 in block solos (105), and top 10 in career digs (840) ... invited to play with the U.S. National Team after finishing her career at BYU.