2011-12 BYU sports year in review

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[media-credit name=”Luke Hansen” align=”alignnone” width=”288″][/media-credit]
BYU's Jennifer Hamson spikes the ball over Illinois' Erin Johnson (left) and Jazmine Orozco (right) on Friday in the Smith Field House.
The big sports news last season was the conference changes. The football team is not associated with any conference, but most other sports joined the West Coast Conference.

Last football season, the team experienced its first year as an independent team, meaning it is not a part of any NCAA athletic conference. Backup quarterback Riley Nelson earned the starting position after leading the Cougars to a lastsecond comeback win against Utah State early in the year. Finishing with a 10-3 record, Nelson also engineered a game-winning drive in the Armed Forces Bowl to defeat Tulsa, 24-21 to finish another successful season.

The Marriott Center has recently become a hot spot. Cougar fans have been found camping out days in advance to be a part of one of the loudest college atmospheres in the country. This cougar pride was rewarded as both the men’s and women’s basketball teams earned NCAA Tournament bids this year and each team finished with 20+ wins in the WCC.

Notably, the women’s team beat Gonzaga to claim the WCC Championship and senior Kristen Riley won the WCC Player of the Year award.

The men’s and women’s volleyball teams are always fun to watch on Friday and Saturday nights in the Smith Fieldhouse.

The men’s team did fairly well. Slowed down by some injuries, they finished the season as one of the top ranked teams in the country.

Women’s volleyball had big wins against teams like St. Mary’s and Illinois, finishing their season with a 21-9 record. The team will look to replace three departing players next season, but hopes to keep up their winning ways behind Jennifer Hamson and Heather Hannemann, two of their strongest players.

Baseball and softball offer fans an opportunity to enjoy outdoor sports during spring and summer terms.

Softball competes under the direction of Coach Gordon Eakin, Coach of the Year recipient for three consecutive years. The team is graduating some starters at the end of the 2012 season, so fans can see their favorite players compete for many years.

BYU also has club sports teams that find ways to compete for national titles on a yearly basis. Rugby normally wins every game, pounding their opponents for 80 minutes.

The rugby team also embraces Polynesian culture by performing the Hakka, a Maori tribal dance, to get the crowd roaring. They play on the South Field. The rugby team ended the year winning the national championship.

Lacrosse began the season ranked No. 1 in two polls, and looks to end with a similar record, finishing 20-3 and earning a 3 seed in the MCLA Nationals. They play their games at North University Field.

With the change of conferences, BYU is still dominating on every field, court or arena. Next year we expect no less.

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