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PROVO, Utah (Nov. 6, 2007) - The BYU women's volleyball team (17-6, 9-4 MWC) will play the first of three home matches to close out the regular season this Friday as the Cougars host in-state rival Utah in the Smith Fieldhouse. The match will begin at 7 p.m. and will be shown tape-delayed on The Mtn. at 8:30 p.m.
"Obviously, there is a lot of emotion associated with our matches against Utah," said BYU head coach Jason Watson. "We played very well against them in Salt Lake City earlier this season and hope to repeat that success here at home in front of a great crowd."
Friday's match will be more than just another Mountain West Conference contest as the Cougars and Utes will be continuing their hotly contested rivalry. The in-state foes have met 84 times in program history with BYU owning a 63-21 record. While the Cougars have traditionally dominated, Utah has claimed supremacy over the last seven years, posting a 15-3 record since 2000. However, BYU has begun to regain control, recording its first win in Salt Lake City since 2000 with a five-game victory earlier this year. Watson also coached his team to a home win in 2005, the first victory over Utah in the Smith Fieldhouse since 2001. This week's match will determine the volleyball champion in the newly created Deseret First Duel rivalry series in addition to garnering the winning school three points toward the overall point total.
BYU closed out its road season last weekend with victories at TCU and New Mexico. The two league wins had large implications on the MWC race as the Cougars put some distance between themselves and those chasing them for third place. At 9-4, BYU has a two-match lead over TCU and Utah, both of whom are 7-6, and a three-match advantage over New Mexico (6-7). UNLV and Colorado State are locked in a tie for first place in the league standings at 10-2. The Rebels will close out the regular season at BYU on Nov. 17.
Several Cougars continue to come up big for BYU as postseason play begins to loom large. Junior middle blocker Rachel Dyer was named the MWC player of the Week on Monday for her role in BYU's weekend wins as she posted 3.57 kills and 2.14 blocks per game while hitting .452 for the week. She currently leads the MWC and ranks seventh in the nation in attack percentage. Senior outside hitter Chelsea Goodman continues her assault on the BYU record book as she is already eighth all-time at BYU in career kills (1331) and seventh in career digs (992) with at least four matches left to play. Her current 3.58 digs per game average this season ranks third all-time.
The Utes are 11-3 overall this season and 7-6 in the Mountain West Conference, which is tied for fourth place with TCU. Junior outside hitter Kathryn Haynie leads the team and ranks ninth in the league with 3.67 kills per game while adding 2.12 digs per contest. Junior middle blocker Lori Baird paces the Utes in both hitting percentage at .306, which ranks seventh in the MWC, and blocks with 1.57 per game, which ranks second in the league, while contributing 2.86 kpg.
In addition to being aired on The Mtn., Friday's match will be available live on GameTracker and BYU All-Access. The contest will also be re-aired on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. on CSTV.