2001 Volleyball Season Review
Jan. 15, 2002
Air Force volleyball certainly had its ups and downs during the 2001 season. The season's overall record is not indicative of the team's development and unity. Playing in one of the toughest conferences in the country, the team fought hard every match and built a wonderful foundation for Falcon teams in the future.
It was a season of changes at the collegiate, as rally scoring was implemented, with games going to 30 points. The Falcons' first victory came in the second match of the season, when the team swept a solid Appalachian State team, 3-0 (30-26, 30-20, 30-25). The Falcons would then go on a 16-match losing streak before defeating in-state rival Denver 3-1 (32-30, 19-30, 30-25, 30-27) for the team's only other win of the season.
The Falcons were shut out in conference play, despite several close matches, including a five-game loss to New Mexico late in the season. Although the 0-14 record was disappointing, the team improved in several areas. Not indicated in any box score or overall statistics was the unity and strengthened bonds that were developed among the players and staff.
Much of the team unity was established early in the season, when Air Force traveled to New York to take on Army. The team was in the hotel when the devastating and tragic events of Sept. 11 took place. The team pulled together and got through the emotional time as a stronger, more dedicated team.
"As the head coach, I tried to display a calm demeanor, although I was shaken," said Penny Lucas-White. "I have never felt so helpless. We certainly take our freedom for granted, and we received a wakeup call that morning. Although we did not touch one volleyball on the trip, we touched each other's hearts. It was a trip for bonding."
While the unity and togetherness was not reflected in the team's record, the future looks bright for the Falcons. Air Force returns all six starters and all 13 letterwinners next season. They have dedicated themselves to working hard in the spring and preparing themselves for a solid 2002 season.
"People may look at our record and think what they will about our season," Katie Dildy said. "However, they will never see the priceless bonds we made, the devotion we have to each other, and the many other little things that have set the foundation for a future of success and hard-earned respect."
Several teammates had similar thoughts and feelings about the season, knowing that the record wasn't an indication on how much the team grew.
"While this year wasn't what we hoped for when it comes to wins and losses, we built and strengthened friendships and trust on the team," Brandi Raifsnider said. "We have a lot to prove next year to ourselves and the conference, and I think the progress we made this year will be the foundation to a successful season in 2002."
For the second straight season, Delavane Diaz led the team in kills (270), finishing the season in the top 10 in the league in kills per game. Christina Nigro, one of the team's two juniors, led the Falcons in blocks with 45. Setter Kristin Huitt was seventh in the league in assists and led the team in digs (148). Brittany Edmonds missed several matches due to an injury, but was still one of just four players to notch over 100 kills.
Several freshman made an immediate impact for the team. Lamecca Jefferson started in all but one match and was second on the team in kills and blocks. Tiffany Bishop also had a solid freshman season, notching 104 kills and 33 blocks.
Overall, the Falcons were disappointed with the final overall record for 2001, but are optimistic about the next few years, as the team is developing into a solid contender.
MVP - Delavane Diaz