2012 Air Force Volleyball Preview
Aug. 20, 2012
The 2012 edition of the Air Force volleyball team is a near-perfect mix of veterans and newcomers. The Falcons return 10 talented and experienced players to the roster, while adding nine freshmen with strong prep credentials.
Leading the Falcons this season will be the squad's lone senior, Maiya Perich. The native of Houston, Texas, is coming off of a stellar junior season that saw her break all three of the program's Division I records for digs (single-season total: 400, single-season average: 4.17, single-match: 36) en route to earning the team's Defensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards. Perich, who has played in every set of her career, will serve as captain for the Falcons' second straight year.
Although the junior class is also small, two of its members have been significant contributors throughout their first two seasons. Cami Richan (Highland, Utah), the team-leader in kills as a sophomore, was one of the conference's top underclassmen in 2011, averaging 3.16 kills-per-set in conference play. Richan will be joined by fellow junior Josalynn Wise (Amarillo, Texas), who has already amassed the eighth-most assists in the program's Division I history (558) during her first two years as a setter. Classmate Casey Boyle (Dallas, Texas), who gained valuable experience last season as a member of the practice squad after joining the team in 2011, also returns to the Falcons' roster for her second season.
The Falcons' six-member sophomore class brings a wealth of knowledge to the bench, having all seen time in the starting rotation during their first season.
Ayesha Hein (Honolulu, Hawaii), the Offensive Player of the Year and a full-time starter in 2011, returns to the lineup after posting the fourth-highest single-season hitting percentage (.275) in the Academy's Division I history. Like Hein, Kristen Holt (Edgewood, N.M.) was a member of the starting rotation for every match in 2011 and returns to the roster after ranking second on the team in total blocks (40).
Amassing over 530 assists in 2011, Hillary Keltner (Belleville, Ill.) is back for her second season after serving as the starting setter during 28 of 30 matches - and playing in all 96 sets - as a freshman. Classmate Emma Dridge (Allen, Texas) was a strong back row presence for the Falcons last year, collecting 148 digs during her first season as a defensive specialist. Attackers Lizzy Carpenter (Murphy, Texas) and Victoria Foster (El Paso, Texas) each participated in over 60 sets during their freshmen campaign and bring added depth to the net, as they recorded first-year kill totals of 77 and 137, respectively.
Joining the program for the 2012 season is a stellar nine-member freshmen class. The newest group of Falcons became the first recruiting class in program history to earn High Honorable Mention from PrepVolleyball.com, the only website to recognize the nation's top incoming classes for collegiate volleyball.
Two of the Falcons' newest members are in-state athletes, as both Danielle Kaufman and Maggie Sherrill hail from Littleton, Colo. Rebecca Bates (West Chester, Pa.), Rachel Bradley Powers (Albuquerque, N.M.), Meg Bright (Kennesaw, Ga.), Felicia Clement (Long Beach, Calif.), Taylor Parker (Bozeman, Mont.), Raquel Rosas (Westminster, Calif.) and Allison Vakerics (Livonia, Mich.) round out the youngest class of Air Force players.
The Falcons, under the direction of third-year head coach Matt McShane, hope that the blend of skilled veterans and enthusiastic newcomers will lead to exciting things during the 2012 campaign.
Air Force opens the season on Aug. 24 for the two-day Rice Invitational in Perich's hometown of Houston, Texas. The Falcons will also travel to the Northern Colorado Invitational on Aug. 31-Sept. 1 and the inaugural All-Academy Championship at The Pentagon on Sept. 7-8. The Falcons will co-host a three-day joint tournament with Colorado on Sept. 13-15, welcoming the Buffs, CSU Bakersfield, Norfolk State and Washington State to Falcon Court at East Gym.
In addition to its annual home tournament, the Falcons will also host Denver (Sept. 25) and Mountain West opponents from UNLV (Sept. 20), Fresno State (Sept. 22), Nevada (Oct. 11), San Diego State (Oct. 13), Boise State (Oct. 27), New Mexico (Nov. 1), Colorado State (Nov. 15) and Wyoming (Nov. 17).