Volleyball Falls to #11 Brigham Young 3-0 In Season-Opener

Aug. 31, 2001

SEATTLE - BYU All-American Nina Puikkonen had 11 kills to lead the 11th-ranked Cougars to a 30-25, 20-26, 32-30 victory over Washington Friday in day one volleyball action at the Point Huskies Invitational Tournament at Bank of America Arena. The loss spoiled the Husky debut of first-year UW head coach Jim McLaughlin, as the UW fell to 0-1 and BYU improved to 1-0 in both schools 2001 season-opener.

The Huskies were led by senior center blocker Allison Richardson (Hemet, Calif.), who had a double-double with 15 kills and 10 digs to go along with a team-best three service aces. Junior outside hitter Paige Benjamin (Redmond, Wash.) added 11 kills, while true freshmen Vanessa Gilliam (Fairfield, Calif.) and lefty Kaitlin Leck (Carson City, Nev.) tallied eight and seven kills respectively. Junior setter Gretchen Maurer (San Clemente, Calif.) also had a career-best 42 assists.

In game one, the two schools stayed close as the score was tied 11 times, before BYU broke a tie at 18-18 and went on a 5-0 run, capped by a kill off an overpass by middle blocker Jackie Bundy. The Huskies crawled back to within three points twice at 20-23 and 21-24, but a service error ended game one in the Cougars' favor at 30-25.

BYU continued where it left off in game one, never trailing in the second game and leading by as much as six three times, before Washington drew to within two points at 21-23, following a Richardson jump serve ace and a back row kill. The Huskies kept the Cougars within two at 23-25, 24-26 and 25-27, before running out of time following a game-ending kill by Puikkonen at 26-30.

The Huskies attempted a comeback in game three, leading by as much as five at 24-19 following a straight down block by Richardson and Gilliam on a Puikkonen hitting attempt. A pair of Husky hitting errors and several BYU kills later, the Cougars tied the score at 27-27. The two teams then traded points back and forth, tying the score once more at 28-28.

BYU has its first game point at 28-29, but a Benjamin kill followed by a block by Gilliam and senior Lisa Underhill (Vista, Calif.) gave the Huskies a game point of their own at 30-29. After that, however, it was all BYU as a pair of kills by Natalie Whittaker sandwiched a kill by Puikkonen off an overpass to give the Cougars a game three win at 32-30.

In the first game of the day, Bethany Howden had 18 kills to lead Texas past Purdue 3-0 (31-29, 30-25, 30-26).

All four teams will be back in action Saturday for the second and final day of the Pt. Huskies Invitational Tournament. Washington will play Purdue at 10:30 a.m., and Texas at 7:30 p.m., while BYU and Texas face-off at 10:30 a.m. in the Pavilion Addition and Purdue plays BYU at 5:30 p.m.

Washington vs #11 BYU (Seattle, Wash.) - August 31, 2001
BYU (1-0) def. Washington (0-1), 30-25, 30-26, 32-30

Kills: UW 46 (Richardson 15), BYU (N. Puikkonen 11), Hitting: UW .236, BYU .281, Assists: UW 45 (Maurer 42), BYU 41 (K. Puikkonen 35), Service Aces: UW 5 , BYU 7, Digs: 39 (Richardson 10), BYU 40 (Bundy 10), Team Blocks: UW 5, BYU 9.

Texas (1-0) def. Purdue (0-1), 31-29, 30-25, 30-26

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