Pettie and Kurtz Lead Falcons to Second at Air Force Invitational
Aug. 25, 2007
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Highlighted by furious comebacks in each of the first two games, the Air Force volleyball team picked up a decisive three-game victory over Bucknell in the final match of the Air Force Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Academy. The Falcons topped the Bison 30-28, 30-28, 30-26 to improve to 2-1 on the season.
The outcome of the match determined the tournament runner-up, as Portland State had already secured the championship title with a perfect 3-0 record.
Bucknell pulled out to the early lead in the opening set and used a six-point run to secure the 16-9 advantage. Backed by strong serving and a pair of service aces from sophomore Katie Batchelder, the Falcons pulled within one at 16-15, but Bucknell once again regained a substantial lead. Down 26-20, Air Force called a timeout. Returning to the court following the break, the Falcons embarked on a 10-2 run to hold off the Bison with a 30-28 score. With Batchelder serving once again, junior Jasamine Pettie accounted for three kills during that stretch. Sophomore Michelle Harrington put down the final two kills to give Air Force the victory.
Freshman Nichole Stilwell accounted for the first point of the second game, but Bucknell once again took the lead. Down 28-23 and the opponents just two points from a win, Air Force received a pair of service aces from senior setter Kim Kallabis and forced the Bison into five errors to take the second game by another 30-28 mark.
Bucknell claimed the first three points of the third game and managed a 10-5 lead, but strong serving from freshman Caroline Kurtz pulled the Falcons to within one. A kill from Kurtz tied the set at 16 and Air Force took the lead on the ensuing point from the blocking of Pettie and Stilwell. The Bison did tie things at 20, but Kurtz added another kill to regain the lead. Batchelder, Stilwell and Kurtz combined for several more kills, while Harrington added another ace to guide the Falcons to the 30-26 win.
Pettie and Kurtz led the Falcons with 10 kills apiece. Batchelder led all participants with 18 digs, while accounting for a team-best three aces. Junior Ellen Bina and Kallabis, who tallied 33 assists as the team's primary setter and added a solo block, each collected a pair of aces.
Batchelder (28 kills, 32 digs, five aces), Pettie (26 kills, nine blocks) and Kallabis (95 assists, two aces, 13 digs) were named to the all-tournament team. They joined Chicago State's Jessica Khouri, Bucknell's Shannon Pitsch and Portland State's Jen Oney, Maija Vojnovic and Dominique Fradella on the all-tournament team. Fradella was named MVP.
The Falcons take to the road next weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) for the Volley in the Valley Tournament, co-hosted by Army and Marist. Air Force opens the tournament on Friday, Aug. 31, when it takes on service-academy rival Army at 7 p.m., in West Point.