PROVO -- The No. 12 BYU Cougars will put their perfect record on the line this week as they head to Salt Lake City Friday night to take on in-state rival Utah in what has become a heated battle in recent years. At 20-0 overall and 11-0 in league play, BYU is in the drivers' seat for this season's Mountain West Conference title but is being chased by the second-place Utes.
"Utah has had a streak of success the past three weeks to move into second place in the conference," said BYU head coach Jason Watson. "They're playing very well at an important part of the season. Our challenge will be to find a way to play well on the road."
The first matchup between these two teams this season saw a little bit of history made as the Cougars defeated the Utes for the first time since 2001, ending Utah's 10-match winning streak against BYU. The Utah streak was its longest of the series, which has been dominated by the Cougars, who hold a 62-17 all-time series lead. The loss was one of three conference setbacks the Utes have suffered so far on their way to a 16-6 overall record and 8-3 MWC mark.
Utah's other league losses came at the hands of New Mexico and Colorado State, both in five games. The Utes have also lost to then-No. 21 Missouri, then-No. 9 Tennessee and Arkansas, while scoring a big nonconference victory over then-No. 17 Santa Clara, who has now risen to No. 11 in the AVCA/CSTV Top 25 Coaches Poll.
One of only three undefeated teams remaining in NCAA Division I volleyball, BYU has proven talented and resilient this season. Junior middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock currently leads the nation in hitting percentage with a .474 mark while helping BYU to the country's 14th-best attack efficiency at .280. Senior setter Lauren Richards Evans is 25th in the nation and paces the MWC averaging 13.02 assists per game.
BYU went on the road last week to pick up two more wins and improve to 20-0 on the season and 11-0 in MWC action. The Cougars stepped out of league play to sweep Weber State on Tuesday night before recording a four-game victory at TCU on Friday night.
Fans of the Cougars can catch the action of the 7 p.m. match on BYU Radio by going to the schedule page of the BYU women's volleyball homepage at http://www.byucougars.com/volleyball_w/. Live stats are also available on this page.