Air Force Opens MWC Season with Three Matches in Three Days
COMING UP: With the start of the Mountain West Conference season just around the corner, the Air Force volleyball team gears up for another busy week, hosting three matches in as many days (Sept. 22-24). The Falcons welcome South Dakota State to the Cadet East Gym on Thursday, before hosting Utah and No. 22 BYU in the start of league play.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE NOTABLES: After dropping a pair of contests to Wake Forest and Georgetown on Saturday (Sept. 17), the Jackrabbits are 6-8 on the year...Minette Ridenour and Kristina Martin lead South Dakota State, as they average 3.79 and 3.70 kills per game, respectively...Kristie Klusaw leads the team with 10.61 assists per game...two Jackrabbits have triple-digit dig totals, while two others are less than 10 away from the 100-dig plateau...Air Force and South Dakota State have faced each other just once before, with the Jackrabbits holding the 1-0 advantage.
UTAH NOTABLES: Utah has picked up three straight victories - including a 3-2 win over No. 17 Santa Clara - to move to 7-3 on the year...the Utes are led by Shelly Sommerfeldt, who averages 3.46 kills per game...Airial Salvo (3.13) and Kathryn Lovell (3.00) also average at least three kills a game...Emillie Toone leads the conference with 1.43 blocks per game...the Utes have never lost to the Falcons and hold a perfect 14-0 all-time mark...last season's match at the Academy marked the first time since 1999 that Air Force had taken a game from Utah, as it won the first set 30-25.
BYU NOTABLES: BYU is currently ranked 22nd, following a perfect 7-0 start to the season...last weekend, BYU upset No. 14 Ohio State in five sets...Erica Lott averages 3.97 kills per game to lead the team, while Chelsea Goodman is close behind with a 3.93 kills per game mark...Lindsy Hartsock is hitting .440 to lead the Mountain West Conference...teammate Lauren Evans leads the league with 13.04 assists per set... after a pair of 3-0 sweeps by the Cougars last season, BYU improved its all-time record over the Falcons to 14-1...Air Force's lone win came in 2002, when the Falcons upset the Cougars, 3-1, in Provo.
A SAD WEEKEND: Air Force picked up its first loss ever to service-academy rival Navy on Friday, Sept. 16, in a 3-1 defeat. On Saturday, Sept. 17, the Falcons rebounded to defeat The Citadel in straight sets, but dropped another 3-1 loss to Army. That loss was the first to the Black Knights since 1985 -- and just the second defeat ever.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TWOSOME: Carly Siefken and Brooke Akers were named to the all-tournament team for the All-Armed Forces Tournament. Siefken hit better than .300 in all three matches, recording 20 kills on 50 attempts with just two errors (.360 hitting percentage for the weekend). In addition, she posted 10.00 assists per set, three aces, 36 digs and four assisted blocks. Akers averaged three kills a game, while tallying five solo and eight assisted stops.
THE CURSE OF GREELEY: Things have not been particularly good for the Falcons since resuming their rivalry with Northern Colorado in 2004. Last year, then-freshman Brooke Akers broke her finger at the Butler-Hancock Hall -- an injury that kept her out of several matches. This season, Kristin Hamlett rolled her ankle just two points into the Sept. 23 match -- an injury that hindered her performance at the All-Armed Forces Tournament.
KEEP THIS DATE OPEN: Air Force's 3-2 victory over Utah Valley State on September 10 comes one year to the day of the Falcons' last five-game win. Air Force defeated Army (3-2) on September 10, 2004, in the finale of the All-Armed Forces Tournament.
STRIKE FIRST: With the exception of South Carolina State, Army and Navy, the Falcons have struck first in every match. Air Force has taken a 1-0 lead in 10 of its 13 matches, highlighted by an 11-0 run to open the victory over Utah Valley State.
TAKING HOME THE PRIZE: Senior Kristin Hamlett picked up her third all-tournament selection of the season at the Ogden Marriott Weber State Classic (Sept. 9-10), after collecting 3.92 kills and 1.08 blocks per game. Hitting .216 over the three-match series, Hamlett added 27 digs and a pair of aces.
THEY KEEP GOING AND GOING: Air Force's 3-1 loss to Army on Sept. 17 marked the eighth match this season that has gone past three games. The Falcons have only played five matches this season that have finished in three sets. The eight extra-set matches Air Force has played in are currently the sixth-most multiple-game matches in Division I history.
ARE WE LOST?
After 10 years of action familiar confines of the Cadet East Gym, Air Force is playing six matches at Clune Arena this season. The Falcons 'borrowed' the new court from the men's and women's basketball programs for the Falcon Invitational (Sept. 2-3) the All-Armed Forces Tournament (Sept. 16-17). Following the tournament season, Air Force will return to the East Gym on Sept. 22, when it welcomes South Dakota State to the Academy.
SHE MEANS BUSINESS
Sophomore Elizabeth Arrington had a stellar morning during the Falcons' match against Southeast Missouri State, as she posted a match-leading 23 kills. Her career-high outing was four higher than her entire freshman campaign. In addition, Arrington committed just three errors on 45 attempts for a match-best .444 hitting percentage.
THE ALL-TOURNAMENT DUO
Air Force senior Kristin Hamlett and sophomore Brooke Akers were named to the Falcon Invitational All-Tournament Team, following stellar performances over the three-match weekend. Hamlett averaged 4.69 kills per game, while tacking on 1.46 blocks a game and adding four aces. Akers put down 3.00 kills per set, hitting .261 for the weekend. In addition, she added 10 total blocks, including four solo stops.
Air Force's 30-25 win over Butler in the second set was the Bulldogs' first game-loss of the season. The team had recorded three straight sweeps prior to taking on the Falcons.
HELLO MOTHER, HELLO FATHER
The Falcon Invitational marked the first time that Air Force was at the Academy over Parents Weekend during 10-year Penny Lucas-White's tenure.
Senior Carly Siefken tallied a career-best 61 assists in the Falcons' match with Southeast Missouri State. The new mark is two better than her previous high of 59, which Siefken set just one week earlier at UNC-Wilmington.
THE ONES IN THE OTHER JERSEY
Sophomore Rebecca Gerton and freshman Ellen Bina have split time at the libero position for the Falcons during this young season. Since making her collegiate debut, Gerton tallied eight aces and 68 digs. Bina, a freshman who spent four years enlisted at Lakenheath AFB, England, working as a jet engine mechanic, recorded 49 digs and three aces.