Aug. 30, 2004
The Air Force volleyball team kicks off the 2004 season on Friday, Sept. 3, at the Hibernia Bank Classic, hosted by Louisiana-Lafayette (formerly known as the Ragin' Cajun Classic). The Falcons will face Tulsa, Northwestern State, Mississippi State and host UL-Lafayette at Earl K. Long Gym in Lafayette, La.
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Tulsa (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
Head coach: Matt Sonnichsen
Tulsa is coming off of an 11-17 season (2-11 WAC) ... they return five starters from last season's squad, including the top three scorers (each posted over 250 kills in 2003) ... the Golden Hurricane will have one match under their belts before meeting Air Force in the tournament opener, as they host North Texas on Sept. 1 ... Air Force is 2-1 all-time versus Tulsa.
Northwestern State (0-0, 0-0 Southland)
Head coach: Leigh Mullins
Northwestern State went 11-22 overall and 5-15 in the Southland Conference last season ...the Lady Demons return four starters from 2003 and nine letterwinners ... the Falcons are 2-1 all-time against Northwestern State, claiming both winning matches in 3-1 victories ... Air Force first played the Lady Demons in 1977 (just the second year of AFA volleyball).
Mississippi State (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Head coach: Tina Seals
Mississippi State is beginning its first season under Tina Seals, who compiled a 444-137 record at Northwest Shoals CC ... last season, MSU went 3-23 overall and 1-15 in the SEC ... the Bulldogs return two starters, including the team's returning scorer, Rachel Cooper, who posted 306 kills last year... the Falcons are 0-2 all-time to the Bulldogs.
UL-Lafayette (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Head coach: Becky Madden
UL-Lafayette is coming off a 6-22 season (2-13 Sun Belt)... they return five starters, including Elina Salomaki, who posted 2.60 kills per game and a team-best hitting percentage of .192 ... the Ragin' Cajuns will open the season on Sept. 1, against Southeastern Louisiana and Alcorn State ... this will be the first meeting between UL-Lafayette and Air Force.
THE LEADERS OF THE PACK
Seniors Lamecca Jefferson and Molly White were selected as co-captains of the 2004 season. It is the ninth time in program history that two players have shared the position of captain.
THE COACHES DECREE
With 28 points, the Falcons were picked to finish eighth in the Mountain West Conference, according to the annual preseason poll that included the votes of the head coaches and selected media. Colorado State was the overwhelming favorite, receiving 14 first-place votes and 118 points. BYU (100) just edged out Utah (97), while San Diego State (65), Wyoming (59) and UNLV (40) finished fourth through sixth. New Mexico narrowly surpassed Air Force with 33 points to take the seventh spot.
MWC PRESEASON POLL RESULTS
1. Colorado State (14) 118
2. BYU 100
3. Utah (1) 97
4. San Diego State 65
5. Wyoming 59
6. UNLV 40
7. New Mexico 33
8. Air Force 28
First-place votes in parenthesis
The Falcons return eight players from last year's squad, including four returning starters who saw action in at least 100 games. Molly White is the only Falcon that played in all 101 games, but Lamecca Jefferson, Kristin Hamlett and Jenalee Burke saw action in 100 games. In addition, Carly Siefken and Rebecca Gallegos saw significant time in over 80 games.
LEADING THE WAY
Junior Carly Siefken led the Mountain West Conference in service aces per game last season, as she recorded an average of 0.45 aces per game. She recorded 42 service aces in 93 games. Her 42 aces ranks second in the program's Division I history, just five behind Academy leader Tharommony In, who recorded 47 in 1999.
Senior co-captain Molly White and head coach Penny Lucas-White are returning home for the Hibernia Bank Classic, hosted by Louisiana-Lafayette. White grew up in Lafayette and graduated from Lafayette High School. The Falcons' mentor attended Tara High School in nearby Baton Rouge.