By Matthew Montague
As the Cougars opened conference play, the team switched to a 6-2 system.
The team split its matches over the weekend to open conference play.
A hot San Diego State team swept the Cougars, 16-30, 17-30 and 15-30.
“San Diego State is a very good team,” head coach Karen Lamb said. “They played very well tonight and prevented us from executing our game plan.”
Because of injuries to redshirt freshman middle blocker Lexi Brown and junior middle blocker Laura Nielsen the Cougars switched to the 6-2 system for the first time.
Lamb moved sophomore Lindsey Metcalf to the middle blocker position.
The new look is going to take a little time for the team to adjust to and showed in the first match against San Diego State.
The Cougars” attack percentage was .087 to the Aztecs .378. BYU also struggled with its blocking.
The Cougars were the fourth best blocking team in the nation heading into the match but were out blocked 16-2.
Junior setter Karina Puikkonen was given an opportunity to attack and she led the team in attempts (19) and had a match-high 11 kills while hitting .421.
Senior outside hitter Allison Larson was second on the team with eight kills while hitting .313.
San Diego State dominated in every statistical category. Zlatina Anguelova who had a team-high 10 kills while hitting .429 led the Aztecs. Nicole Akporiaye led the solid Aztec defense with 11 blocks.
As a team, the Aztecs had 12 aces with just one service error compared to the Cougars three aces and eight service errors.
BYU rebounded from the San Diego State loss to beat UNLV in a five game thriller 29-31, 26-30, 30-24, 30-25 and 19-17.
The Cougars struggled with the new 6-2 system in the beginning as they lost game one and trailed in game two. Lamb made the decision to switch back to the 5-1 system and the switch paid off.
“Everyone contributed tonight,” Lamb said. “After we lost the first two games we bounced back and made plays when we needed them.”
Sophomore middle blocker Lindsey Metcalf stepped up and played excellent for the Cougars. She had a career high 17 blocks and also tallied up 13 digs. Metcalf”s 17 blocks is the fourth-best all-time mark by a BYU player.
“Lindsey had an incredible match,” Lamb said. “Especially considering we had to move her to a position she had never played before.
Sophomore outside hitter April Varner had her team-leading fifth double-double of the year in recording career-highs with 19 kills and four blocks to go with 14 digs.
Larson recorded her first career double-double as a Cougar with 16 kills and a career-high 10 blocks while adding a career-best four assists.
Freshman outside hitter Kim Wilson set career-highs with 13 kills and nine digs. Junior middle blocker Carrie Bowers also reached double-digits in kills with 13 while also setting a career-high with two service aces.
“Whether it was a big block or a big swing we seemed to come up with the big plays when we needed them,” Lamb said.
The Cougars compiled 24.0 team blocks, the fourth highest in team history and had a .235 attack percentage. The Rebels had 11.0 blocks and .132 attack percentage.
The Cougars are now 6-9 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
BYU returns home to host its first conference matches of the season. The Cougars play Air Force Friday at 7 p.m. and New Mexico Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse.