Courtesy: Air Force Athletics
This Week: Air Force (6-1 overall, 0-0 WWPA) opens Western Water Polo Association play as the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds (1-6, 0-0 WWPA) visit the Cadet Natatorium on Saturday, Sept. 18. The teams meet in a conference game at noon MT, followed by a non-conference game at 3 p.m.
Series Records: Air Force and Fresno Pacific have played 13 times and the Falcons hold a 12-1 advantage in the series that began in 2010. Air Force has won seven straight in the series. The teams did not play last season due to COVID-19. In 2018, Air Force defeated FPU, 20-14, at the Academy. In 2019, the Falcons defeated FPU (15-9) in Fresno and in the WWPA Tournament (14-5) in Riverside.
About the Sunbirds: Fresno Pacific is 1-6 overall this season. Last weekend, the Sunbirds won the final game of the Inland Empire Tournament, 17-16, over La Verne. Bodhi Bowden leads the WWPA with 24 goals and is second with 27 points. Goalie Clay Maroney has seen the most action between the pipes and is third in the league with 59 saves. Due to COVID-19, the Sunbirds played just one game last season, a 23-9 loss to eventual WWPA tournament champion, California Baptist.
Common Opponents: Air Force and FPU have both played Cal Lutheran and Redlands this season. Air Force is 2-0 against them while FPU is 0-2. FPU fell to CLU, 15-12, at the Pacific Invite and to Redlands (17-13) at the Inland Empire. Air Force defeated both teams this season. The Falcons defeated CLU, 16-9, at home on Sept. 5 and then beat Redlands, 13-12 in overtime, at the Inland Empire last weekend.
Last Week: Air Force posted a 3-1 record at the Inland Empire Tournament, Sept. 11-12, in Redlands, Calif. The Falcons opened the tournament with a 13-12 overtime win over Redlands and then beat Chapman, 14-8, later on the first day. On day two, the Falcons improved to 6-0 overall this season with a 19-16 win over Ottawa University. The Falcons suffered their first loss of the season to sixth-ranked Long Beach State, 15-4, in the final game of the tournament.
Best Start in 30 years: Air Force opened the 2021 season with six straight wins, before falling to No. 6 Long Beach State. The 6-1 start is the best since the Falcons opened the season 8-0 in 1991. The six-game winning streak is the longest since the 2008 team won seven in a row at midseason. The 1978 team opened the season with four straight wins and was 10-1 in their first 11 games.
Big Tourney for No. 8: Senior Sam Fuller had a career weekend at the Inland Empire Tournament. The native of Santa Barbara, Calif., scored 11 goals and had four assists, along with five steals and two drawn exclusions, in the four games. Against Redlands, he had a career best six points with four goals and two assists and netted the game-winner in overtime. In the win over Chapman, he had a career best five goals.
Inside the Numbers: Junior Grant Snyder is second in the league in goals (23) while senior Sam Fuller is third (19). Snyder leads the league in points (29) and Fuller is third (26). Freshman Ryan McLaughlin is tied for third in the league in assists (9) while senior Henry Yavitt is tied for sixth (8). Senior Gavin Jones is tied for third in the league with three field blocks. Sophomore Ian Christie leads the league with 12 steals. Snyder is second with 10. Snyder leads the league with 15 sprint victories. In the NCAA stats, Snyder ranks sixth in goals, sixth in points, second in sprint victories and ninth in steals. Christie is seventh in the nation in steals while Fuller is 10th in goals.
All-American Grant Snyder: Senior Grant Snyder, a second-team All-American last season, picked up right where he left off last season. Snyder had a career-best nine goals in a season-opening win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. He had 16 goals in the first three games of the season and added seven more at the Inland Empire Tournament. He has scored a goal in all seven games this season. Snyder, from Springville, Calif., ranked in the top 10 in the nation in nearly every statistical category last season. He was third in the nation in points (50), sixth in goals (33), sixth in assists (17) and seventh in steals (19). He also led the nation in sprint victories with 32.
2020 WWPA Champions: Air Force won its first ever WWPA regular season championship in 2020 with a perfect 2-0 record in conference play. The Falcons defeated Loyola Marymount, 15-13 in overtime, and Cal Baptist, 15-14, in overtime, in designated conference games. Air Force was the No. 1 seed in the WWPA Tournament for the first time ever, but fell to Cal Baptist, 11-9, in the title game. Air Force finished the season ranked eighth in the nation. The Falcons finished the season with a 4-7 overall record.