Volleyball To Host Nationally-Ranked MWC Foes

Oct. 17, 2000

After a Tuesday (Oct. 17) match at UCRiverside this week, the Aztecs (11-10, 4-3 MWC) resume Mountain West Conference action at home when they host Brigham Young and Utah this coming weekend. The Cougars (13-5, 5-2 MWC) will visit Peterson Gym on Friday (Oct. 20) at 7:00 p.m. Utah (15-3, 6-1 MWC) will face the Aztecs the following evening (Saturday, Oct. 21), also at 7:00 p.m. in Peterson Gym.

San Diego State leads the series with Utah by a 13-7 margin, but SDSU's last win over the Utes came back in 1995 in Salt Lake City. Since that time, the teams have met just five times with Utah claiming wins in all five matches. Included in that number is the Utes' four-game win in Salt Lake City earlier this season.

Brigham Young holds a 22-13 edge against San Diego State and has won its last eight matches against the Aztecs. BYU defeated San Diego State, 3-0, when the teams met last month in Provo. SDSU's last win over the Cougars came in 1996 in Peterson Gym.

Utah: The Utes begin the week with an overall record of 15-3 and a no. 15 national ranking. Among Utah's victims this fall are Stanford (top-ranked at the time) and University of San Diego. Utah is led by returning all-Mountain West Conference selections McKelle Stilson (3.09 kpg, .295). Freshman middle blocker Kim Turner has a .302 hitting percentage and is averaging 2.60 kpg. The Utes' only loss in their last four outings came at 25th-ranked Utah State (3-1). Utah has advanced to the NCAA Tournament each of the past two seasons while finishing third in the final MWC regular-season standings.

Brigham Young: BYU's record stands at 13-5 to start the week and the Cougars are ranked 17th in the nation. Four of the Cougars' wins have come against ranked opposition that includes Stanford (#1), Long Beach State (#2), Kansas State (#20) and Clemson (#27). BYU is led by Nina Puikkonen, a 1999 second-team All-American, who is hitting .343 with 3.87 kills/game. She was named the national player of the week after her performances in wins over Stanford and Long Beach State the weekend of September 9-10. Outside hitter Sunny Tonga was the MWC freshman of the year in 1999, and continues to excel with a .338 hitting percentage and 3.13 kpg. As a team, BYU is hitting an impressive .273.

The Aztecs split a pair of conference road matches last weekend, winning at Wyoming and losing at Colorado State.

In Laramie last Friday (Oct. 13), SDSU came back from a 2-1 deficit top defeat the Cowgirls 3-2 (9-15, 15-7, 6-15, 15-12, 15-8). Four Aztecs recorded double figures in kills, led by freshman Aspen McPartland with 15. The others included Monet Solberg (11), Nicole Akporiaye (11) and Amy Hallquist (10).

The following afternoon (Oct. 14), the Aztecs fell to fourth-ranked Colorado State in three games (7-15, 7-15, 4-15). McPartland again led San Diego State in kills with six. Senior Erin Grady led all players with seven blocks.

Monday evening(Oct. 16), the Aztecs needed just over an hour to defeat William &Mary in three games (15-9, 15-4, 16-14). Solberg led SDSUwith a dozen kills while Grady totaled seven blocks.

After 21 matches, here's a look at the San Diego State start leaders thus far:
           Overall                      Conference
Kills......162-Akporiaye, McPartland....70-Hallquist

The Wyoming contest marked San Diego State's first five-game match of the 2000 season.

Two Aztecs recorded double doubles at Wyoming ,last Friday. Freshman Aspen McPartland had 15 kills and 14 digs while senior Monet Solberg had 11 kills and 10 digs. It was the third double double of the season for each player.

Solberg's five-match streak of reaching double figures in kills was ended at Colorado State when she had six. Over the past six matches, the senior outside hitter from Sebastopol, is averaging 3.40 kills per game. Her season average of 3.02 kpg leads the team.

Over San Diego State's last five matches, senior outside hitter Amy Hallquist is hitting .336 and is averaging 3.35 kills per game. She had a four-match streak of matches with double figures in kills stopped at Colorado State.

Nicole Akporiaye has compiled a .342 hitting percentage over the Aztecs' most recent six matches. The sophomore from Tucson, Ariz., leads the team in total kills this season with 159.

Setter Melissa Wright has totaled 771 assists in her first season as an Aztec to rank ninth on the SDSU career list. In addition, she is also hitting .318 on the season. In her last six matches, the sophomore from Muncie, Ind., is hitting .356 with 23 kills and just seven errors in 45 attempts.

Senior Erin Grady is averaging 1.74 blocks per game this season, a figure that ranks third in the nation entering the week. Earlier this season, she set a new San Diego State record with 15 block assists in a match vs. Idaho on Sept. 9th. It broke the previous mark of 13 set by Renate Busch vs. UC Santa Barbara back in 1979.

The loss at Colorado State ended San Diego State's four-match win streak.

With seven MWC matches left, SDSU has already matched its conference win total (4) of last season. The Aztecs also have 10 matches (plus MWC tournament) left, and one win will match their overall win total of the 1999 season (when they won 11).

The Aztecs are currently in sole possession of fourth place in the Mountain West Conference at 4-3.

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