U Volleyball Scores Upset As BYU Star Gets Bloody Nose

Momentum was a crucial matter in the volleyball match on Friday night. However, who would have thought that the contest would have been completely altered from a ball hitting Nina Puikkonen?s nose in the match between No. 13 BYU and No. 18 Utah?

The rivalry lived up to its billing, as the match was decided in five tight games, with every play crucial to the outcome of the match, in which the Utes went on to win by a 30-25, 25-30, 30-32, 30 26, 15-12 margin.

After what seemed to be a backbreaking loss in game three, and the Utes down 20 13 in game four, the unthinkable happened.

Puikkonen hit a spike off her nose and consequently had to come out of the game, leaving Utah with a great chance to come back.

?Nina is so critical to their team, and every play was so critical in the match,? said Ute coach Beth Launiere.

Puikkonen’s departure sent tremors across the BYU line, and Utah erupted with 10 of the next 13 points and tied up what seemed to be an insurmountable lead.

?I thought that if we just sideout, then we would win,? said BYU coach Elaine Michaelis.

However, with Puikkonen out, Ute middle blocker Kim Turner took advantage, and had 8 kills in game four.

?We were all tense, and then everything just clicked,? Turner said.

Despite the absence of Puikkonen, coming back from a seven-point deficit and then winning game five was not easy.

?You have to give our team credit for its pride and composure,? Launiere said.

When the Utes played BYU in Provo back in September, the Utes were plagued with 13 service errors in three games that consequently resulted in a three-Game loss for the Utes.

In this match, the Utes had 9 service errors in five games and a killing percentage of .218, compared with the .180 that BYU put up.

In game five, the Utes held BYU to a killing percentage of .000. Turner, Katrena Ellett and Alisa Geddes came through with 2 kills apiece to clinch the match for the Utes.

Puikkonen and Sunny Mahe were the offensive leaders for the Cougars, with 24 and 16 kills, respectively.

?Nina had her best match of the season, and it was good to see her break out,? Michaelis said.

However, her best match could not overcome the injury in the fourth game.

Her sister, Karina Puikkonen, was instrumental in the Cougars’ victory in Provo, however, she could only muster up an .059 killing percentage, with 62 assists, Friday at Crimson Court.

Utah was led by Turner and McKelle Stilson, who totaled 18 and 16 kills.

The setting for the Utes was ugly at times, but great at the end of the contest. Jackie Morrill led the team with 35 assists, while Kelsie Kartchner put up 28.

?Kelsie served the best she has all year and really came through for this team,? Launiere said.

The momentum shifts were resonant, and the match itself was thrilling, but in the end, the Utes tied the Cougars in the year’s season series, and increased their record to 13-4 overall and 6-2 in conference play, while BYU dropped to 12 4 and 6-2 in conference play.

?Both teams fought very well, and it came down to who played the best at the end of the match,? Michaelis said.

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