By Sam Araki
The No. 16 BYU women”s volleyball team is on a roll and seeks to bully the Weber State University Wildcats Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Ogden, Weber County.
The Cougars are a perfect 49-0 all-time against the 11-12 Wildcats. BYU expects a win to cap a 4-0 road trip as it continues to warm up for a weekend showdown with the No. 6 Colorado State Rams.
“This is a better Weber team than the teams in the past,” said Elaine Michaelis, BYU women”s volleyball coach. “They”re in the middle of their conference this year, and normally they”re on the bottom, so they seem to be a much better team.”
A historically weak team, since its inception in 1974 the Weber State volleyball program has only had eight winning seasons.
Weber State is a young team that has been inconsistent in its play this season. In their previous 10 matches, the Wildcats had a five-match win streak which was followed by a 1-4 slump.
The lone senior on the squad, team captain and middle blocker Natasha Widdison, leads the Wildcats. This year she has averaged 3.01 kills and 1.71 blocks with a 0.298 attack percentage.
“This will be a four-game road swing and to win all those on the road will be great,” Michaelis said.
After traveling to and defeating Sacramento State, Air Force and New Mexico last week, the Cougars found themselves in the enviable position of markedly improving their play with each match.
Part of the Cougars resurgence is the recovery in the play of its star player, Michaelis said.
Senior All-American middle blocker Nina Puikkonen has re-discovered her dominant form after a sluggish first half of the season.
Puikkonen was named Mountain West Conference co-player of the week on Monday, Oct. 29, after averaging 5.0 kills, 2.3 digs, 2.3 blocks with a 0.438 attack percentage, in the three wins last week. Puikkonen earned the award for the first time this season and for the sixth time in her career.
Puikkonen has had double-digit kills in all 19 matches this season.
BYU has an overall record of 15-4 this year, and is the 16th-ranked team for the second week in a row.
The Cougars will next see action as they confront undefeated Mountain West Conference archrival Colorado State on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m., in the Smith Fieldhouse.