Air Force Opens Home Slate Hosting Falcon Invitational
The Falcons open the home portion of the schedule, hosting the Falcon Invitational on Sept. 2-3 at the Academy. The tournament, which features Butler, San Jose State, Southeast Missouri State, Weber State and Wisconsin, will take place at both the Cadet East Gym and Clune Arena.
HERE'S THE SITUATION
On Friday (Sept. 2), matches are scheduled to take place at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. Air Force, Butler and Southeast Missouri State will compete at Clune Arena, while San Jose State, Weber State and Wisconsin will play in Cadet East Gym. On Saturday, all teams will converge on Clune Arena at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m., for the championship brackets. The first-, second- and third-place teams from Friday's action will face one another, although Air Force will compete in the 5 p.m. match.
Due to the increased traffic on base due to the annual Parents Weekend, fans are encouraged to arrive early for this weekend's Falcon Invitational. Both levels of the East Lot will be available for parking, as well as the reservoir lot to the east of the Field House.
HELLO MOTHER, HELLO FATHER
This weekend's Falcon Invitational will mark the first time that Air Force will be at the Academy over Parents Weekend since seniors Rebecca Gallegos, Kristin Hamlett and Carly Siefken joined the squad.
SEE YOU SOON
Air Force and Weber State have a chance to play each other twice this season, as WSU travels to the Academy for the Falcon Invitational this weekend and the Falcons travel to Ogden, Utah, for the Weber State Invitational next weekend. Should the two teams meet in the finals of the Falcon Invitational, it will mark the third time in three seasons that Air Force has faced a non-conference opponent on more than one occasion.
Senior Carly Siefken tallied a career-best 59 assists in the Falcons' match with UNC-Wilmington. The new mark is one better than her previous high of 58, which Siefken set on two occasions last season.
After three matches, sophomore Elizabeth Arrington is just one kill shy of her entire freshman year output. In just 11 games, Arrington has already tallied 18 kills, after putting down 19 kills in 34 games last season.
THE ONE IN THE OTHER JERSEY
Sophomore Rebecca Gerton and freshman Ellen Bina split time at the libero position during the Falcons' matches over the weekend at the Battle at the Beach Tournament. Making her collegiate debut, Gerton tallied two aces and seven digs over the weekend. Bina, a freshman who spent four years enlisted at Lakenheath AFB, England, working as a jet engine mechanic, recorded 24 digs and an ace.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW
For the fourth straight season, the Falcons featured a freshman in the season-opening lineup. Rookie Kristina Stewart was on the baseline for the squad's 2005 debut versus Xavier at the Battle at the Beach Tournament. Stewart recorded two kills, one assist and a team-best nine digs in her first game as a Falcon.
All six of the new additions to the travel roster made their inaugural appearance on the court in the Falcons' match with Xavier. In addition to Kristina Stewart, senior Briana Thomas earned a starting nod, while junior Tara Dunn and sophomore Rebecca Gerton also saw time on the floor, as well as freshmen Jasamine Pettie and Ellen Bina.
SHE GOT A BEACH TOWEL!
Senior Kristin Hamlett was named to the all-tournament team at the Battle of the Beach Tournament, receiving a beach towel "trophy". For the weekend, Hamlett recorded 65 kills in 11 games for a 5.91 per game average. In addition to hitting .381, she tallied seven aces, 20 digs and 11 total blocks. In fact, during the team's victory over South Carolina State, Hamlett led all scorers with 23 kills -- just one shy of the Bulldogs' entire kill total. This is the sixth all-tournament team selection of her career.
Three different Falcons recorded double-digit kill totals over the weekend. Kristin Hamlett pounded down kill totals of 15, 27 (a career-high) and 23, respectively, over the three matches, while the sophomore duo of Elizabeth Arrington (14) and Brooke Akers (13) collected a mass of kills against UNC-Wilmington. In addition, Ellen Bina (15), Rebecca Gallegos (14) Hamlett (10) registered double-digit dig marks against the Seahawks, while Kim Kallabis tallied 10 against South Carolina State.
ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN
As a team, the Falcons currently lead the Mountain West Conference in kills in a match with 72, from the five-game heartbreaker to UNC-Wilmington. Air Force also leads the league with 67 assists in a match, as well as 68 digs in a match.
THE LEADERS AND BEST
Over the weekend, Kristin Hamlett leads the conference in four individual match-high categories. The senior posted a league-best .583 hitting percentage in the win over South Carolina State, putting down 23 kills in 36 attempts, while committing just two errors. She also claimed the two best single-match kill totals, with 27 and 23. In addition to a MWC-best 55 attempts against UNCW, Hamlett also laid down a league-best four aces against SCSU. Classmate Carly Siefken's 59 assists is also a conference leading mark.
THE LEADERS OF THE PACK
While senior Kristin Hamlett holds the title of 'team captain', fellow classmates Rebecca Gallegos and Carly Siefken will also be looked upon to guide this team in the new direction that they are taking. The different qualities that the three seniors possess will compliment each other both on- and off-the-court and help solidify the team.
After spending the past year serving an assignment in the Middle East, assistant coach Lt Col Scott Nelson returns to the sideline. Nelson, who will work extensively with the outside hitters, served as a U.S. military observer assigned to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Israel and Egypt.
HOME SWEET HOME
Air Force will play 17 matches in the comfortable surroundings of the Academy in 2005. In addition to hosting all eight of their Mountain West Conference opponents, the Falcons will welcome North Dakota State, South Dakota State and local rival Denver to the Cadet East Gym. Air Force will also host two tournaments, including the second-annual All-Armed Forces Tournament at Clune Arena.
The Falcons return many of last season's consistent starters, including senior Kristin Hamlett - the only Falcon to play in all 92 games - who led the team with 3.24 kills and 0.87 blocks per game. Also returning to the lineup is sophomore Brooke Akers, who led the team with a .206 hitting percentage, despite missing 20 games with an injury. With 91 games under her belt last year, senior Rebecca Gallegos returns to the lineup with the best dig-per-game (1.96) record of all returning players. Air Force also returns senior setter Carly Siefken, who averaged 10.59 assists per game before going down with an injury midway through the conference slate.
HELLO, MY NAME IS...
Air Force welcomes six newcomers to the court this season, including three who have had at least one year Academy-living under their belts. Senior Briana Thomas and junior Tara Dunn join the squad after spending several years as members of the women's basketball team, while sophomore Morgan Dolan entered the Academy as a member of the track and field team. The Falcons bring three freshmen into the mix with prep school graduates Jasamine Pettie and Ellen Bina, as well as Kristina Stewart.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
With 16 points, Air Force was picked to finish ninth in the newly expanded Mountain West Conference, according to the annual preseason poll that included the votes of the league's head coaches and select media. With 108 points, BYU edged out defending co-champions Utah (106) and Colorado State (96), as the early on favorite. UNLV (74) and conference newcomer TCU (62) are picked to round out the top-five. With 44 points, San Diego State narrowly topped Wyoming (42) for the sixth and seventh spots, respectively, while New Mexico (37) and Air Force round out the standings.