50 facts for 50 years of making women’s volleyball history

BYU Photo
The 2018 BYU women’s volleyball team gathers together on the court while prepare for the regional it is hosting. (BYU Photo)

Fifty years have passed since BYU started recording women’s volleyball’s stats. The team has been making history on and off the court ever since.

The first BYU women’s volleyball team to make it to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Cougars have returned 30 times since then. (1981 Banyan)


1. BYU started keeping records on women’s volleyball in 1969. The 2019-20 season marks 50 years since. The first BYU women’s volleyball team played in 1956.

2. From 1969 to the end of the 2018-19 season, the Cougars won 1,281 games.

3. Their all-time win percentage from 1969-2018 was .782 (1,281-356-5), and their 2019 win percentage was .846 as of Sept. 30.

4. The BYU Cougars made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in 1981. They have returned 30 times since then.

5. In the 1981-82 season, volleyball was one of the 12 women’s sports added to the NCAA championship program. At the time, 20 teams competed for the title, but now, 64 teams do.

6. The women’s volleyball team became the first BYU team to qualify for the NCAA final four when they did so in 1993.

7. BYU has played against 188 opponents and is the leader in wins for 159 of them.

8. BYU women’s volleyball has never won the NCAA Division I national championship. In 2014, the team was the runner up. This was also the first time the team made it to the NCAA Division I national championship final.

Fun Facts

An article published by The Daily Universe referrs to the BYU women’s volleyball team as the Spikettes, April 30, 1970.

9. The Smith Fieldhouse was built in 1951 and is named after President George Albert Smith, who died the year it opened.

10. The BYU women’s volleyball team was once known as the “Spikettes.”

11. The Smith Fieldhouse court is named after former women’s volleyball head coach Elaine Michaelis.

12. No female coach has ever won an NCAA Division I National Championship.

13. Twenty-eight BYU women’s volleyball players have played internationally.

14. There have been 38 NCAA Division I National Championship tournaments. BYU has attended 31 of them.

15. Twenty-two BYU players are in the 1,000-kills club.

16. The two most recent to reach this milestone are McKenna Miller (1,217 as of Sept 26, 2019) and Roni Jones-Perry (1,473).


17. BYU women’s volleyball has had seven head coaches: JoAnne Calderwood (1956-61), Elaine Michaelis (1961-01), Karen Lamb (2002-04), Jason Watson (2005-07), Shay Goulding (2008-10), Shawn Olmstead (2011-14) and Heather Olmstead (2015-present).

18. Michaelis began coaching women’s volleyball one year before Lavell Edwards began coaching football, and she retired two years after him. 

19. At one point, Michaelis was simultaneously the head coach of women’s volleyball, women’s basketball, women’s field hockey and softball.

20. Michaelis was the first female coach in the nation to take a team to the NCAA Final Four.

21. Under Michaelis, the team had 28 consecutive 20-win seasons. She ended her career with a record of 886-225-5.

22. Coaches Watson and Olmstead both played on the BYU men’s volleyball team.

23. Olmstead, Lamb and Michaelis played on the women’s team before becoming coaches.

The 1985 BYU women’s volleyball team in the season that it set the team record for aces in a single match. (1985 Banyan)


24. The Cougars’ team single-match hitting percentage record is .600, which was set at Colorado State in 1982.

25. In 1985, BYU set a new team single-match record of 20 aces against Weber State.

26. 1986 was a season of 3-0 sweeps with 29 total and 10 consecutive wins.

27. BYU also had the most wins in its 1986 season with a total of 40.

28. The team’s record for single-match kills is 105. This record was set in 1998 against Hawaii. In the same game, the Cougars recorded 305 attempts, which is also a team record.

29. Both attendance records were set in 2018. The highest attendance at a BYU women’s volleyball game was 17,808 on the road at their Final Four appearance and 5,472 at home against the University of Utah. The capacity at the Smith Fieldhouse is 5,000.

30. The team’s 2018-19 season win percentage was .939, which is the program high.

All Americans

31. Last season, six women on the team earned the All-American title. The total of All-American BYU women’s volleyball players is now 58.

32. The first two All-Americans were Annette Cottle and Karen Curtis Lamb in 1977. Karen Curtis Lamb later became the team’s head coach.


33. In 2000, Charlene Johnson became the first BYU women’s volleyball player to participate in the Olympics.

34. Mary Lake is set to play on the 2020 Summer Olympic women’s volleyball team.

Family Ties

35. Current Cougars Morgan and Whitney Bower are sisters, and their mom, Caroline Steuer Bower played on BYU’s team from 1996-99.

36. Morgan Johnson’s mother, Gale Oborn Johnson, played on the team from 1993-96.

37. Steuer Bower and Oborn Johnson played together in 1996. Their daughters play together now.

38. Mary Lake’s sister Melissa was on the 2008-09 team.

39. Coaches Shawn and Heather Olmstead are siblings. Shawn Olmstead now coaches the BYU men’s volleyball team.

40. The Olmsteads’ sister, Laci Olmstead, played setter for BYU in 1994-95.

41. McKenna Miller is married to Alex Ah Sue from the men’s team.

Colin Wylie
Coach Heather Olmstead instructs the 2018 women’s volleyball team in the NCAA Final Four game. (Colin Wylie)

Current Coach

42. Heather Olmstead holds the highest winning percentage of any women’s volleyball coach in NCAA Division I history.

43. Coach Olmstead reached 100 wins in 111 games. She was the third-fastest coach to reach 100 Division I wins.

44. The team is 129-15 against all opponents since Olmstead became coach.

Current BYU women’s volleyball teammates, Mary Lake and McKenna Miller celebrate BYU’s win over Weber State on Sept. 7. (Hannah Miner)

Current Team

45. The current team has four All-Americans.

46. Whitney Bower skipped her senior year of high school to play volleyball at BYU.

47. Mary Lake had 1,645 digs as of Sept 26, 2019. She is on track to become BYU’s number one in digs. The current record holder is Ciara Parker with 1,793.

48. Seven players on the team are from Utah, six are from California, two are from Idaho, two are from Hawaii and one is from Arizona.

49. BYU has made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 in each of the last seven years. In 2018, the Cougars made it to the final four, and in 2014 they made it to the NCAA final.

50. The women’s volleyball team is ranked No. 5 in the NCAA RPI rankings and No. 9 in the AVCA Coaches rankings, receiving one first-place vote.

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