PROVO -- The No. 19 BYU women's volleyball team is set to open Mountain West Conference play this weekend, hosting Air Force on Friday night and Colorado State on Saturday night in the Smith Fieldhouse. With an 8-1 record so far this season, the Cougars are anxious to defend the league crown they won a year ago with a 14-2 mark.
"We look forward to the start of MWC play," said BYU head coach Jason Watson. "There's a lot of work left to do, but we are making progress. Air Force and Colorado State will challenge our team. This weekend will be a great test for us."
BYU's home opener on Sept. 1 saw the Cougars defeat No. 4 Stanford in front of a BYU women's volleyball record 4,050 fans. BYU is 3-0 at home this season and has the nation's 14th-best attendance average at 1,705 fans.
After recording seven sweeps in their first nine matches of the year, the Cougars lead the MWC in hitting percentage and are second in blocking, also ranking nationally in both categories. Senior middle blocker Lindsy Hartsock also leads the league in hitting percentage and is second in blocking and ranks sixth nationally in both categories. Junior rightside hitter Erica Lott paces the conference in kills and points while ranking in the top 10 in hitting percentage and blocks.
The Falcons are 1-7 so far this season with their lone win coming against Norfolk State. The Air Force attack is led by sophomore outside hitter Kristina Stewart with 2.60 kills per game. Stewart is also second on the team in digs per game with 2.60 while freshman libero Jaclyn Fleming paces AFA with 3.76. Freshman Jocelyn Booker averages 0.92 blocks per game to lead the Falcons. As a team, Air Force hits .062 while allowing opponents to hit .208.
The Rams are 5-4 so far this season including two losses against ranked opponents - No. 13 Cal and No. 18 Pepperdine. CSU is led by sophomore outside hitter Jaime Strauss, who averages 3.32 kills per game while picking up 2.65 digs per game. Freshman Katelin Batten paces the Ram defense with 3.32 digs per game while freshman middle blocker Tessa Nelson adds 1.00 blocks per game. As a team, the Rams hit .222 while allowing opponents a .172 attack efficiency.
Fans of BYU women's volleyball can catch all the action of this weekend's matches in a variety of ways. In addition to live stats being available for both contests, BYU-TV will broadcast the Colorado State nationally. Fans can also sign up for BYU Cougars All-Access, which will carry a live video stream of the matches over the Internet, by going to the BYU Cougars' homepage at www.byucougars.com. Live video will also be available for CSTV XXL subscribers via CSTV Online.
BYU Marketing Introduces Volleyopoly
The Cougar marketing department will be kicking off Volleyopoly this Friday, a collaborative effort of BYU Athletics, the BYU Bookstore and the Daily Universe. The game will feature a board and game pieces available at all BYU women's volleyball home matches, which can be collected, exchanged and redeemed for prizes. Game boards will be distributed in Friday's edition of the Daily Universe and by the women's volleyball team at the BYU Bookstore on Friday from 12-1 p.m.