Freshmen Have Strong Debut in Season Opener
Aug. 28, 2009
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Highlighted by strong performances from the Falcons' youngest class, the Air Force volleyball team opened the 2009 season on Friday, Aug. 28, at the La Salle Invitational in Philadelphia, Pa. In the first of two matches this evening, the Falcons dropped a 3-0 decision to Cleveland State at Tom Gola Arena by 25-17, 25-20, 25-15 scores.
While tying the set at two, freshman Grace Konstanzer tallied the first kill of the Falcons' 2009 season. She went on to tie the score on two more occasions. Following the kill that evened the score at four, Air Force went on a 5-0, highlighted by a pair of back-to-back service aces from fellow freshman Maiya Perich. Cleveland State tied the score at 10, but junior Caroline Kurtz added a pair of kills to retie the score at 12, but the Vikings scored the next six points to take the advantage. Konstanzer added another kills, while Perich served her third ace of the set, but Air Force dropped the first set 25-17.
Air Force jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the second set backed by a pair of aces from Kurtz. Kills from senior Michelle Harrington and junior Nichole Stilwell helped the Falcons to a 6-2 lead. Cleveland State tied the set at 10, but Air Force regained the lead thanks to a pair of kills from Konstanzer. The Falcons continued to hold a slim lead after a pair of CSU errors and an ace by Konstanzer. The Vikings tied the set at 16 and used a strong closing to secure the 25-21 victory.
Cleveland State took the lead early in the final stanza and refused to relinquish it, despite kills from Harrington, Stilwell and Kurtz. Perich made several strong digs during the middle of the set, including several diving plays to keep the Falcons within five. Ultimately, Cleveland State took the final set 25-15.
Stilwell led the Falcons with eight kills and .278 hitting percentage (8-3-18). Harrington added seven, while Konstanzer posted six in her collegiate debut. Junior Jessica Hellmann accounted for 18 assists, while freshman Dani Griffith tallied seven. Junior Kelly Spencer paced the squad with 11 digs, while Konstanzer and Perich each added eight. Perich also accounted for three service aces, while Kurtz and Konstanzer combined for three more. Harrington continued to be a force from the line, leading the Falcons with a pair of assisted blocks.
Air Force continues action at the La Salle Invitational this evening, when it faces the host Explorers at 5 p.m. (EST).