Falcons Rally for Thrilling 3-2 Victory
Aug. 28, 2009
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - The Air Force volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to claim its first win of the 2009 season in thrilling fashion at the La Salle Invitational on Friday, Aug. 28, in Philadelphia, Pa. After trailing host La Salle by two sets (22-25, 18-25), the Falcons collected back-to-back 25-22 victories to force a match-deciding game five. A strong final stanza by junior Caroline Kurtz gave Air Force the 15-11 set victory and the match win.
Although errors gave La Salle an early lead, Air Force responded with a 5-1 run, highlighted by a pair of kills from junior Nichole Stilwell. Classmate Emily Frick and freshman Grace Konstanzer also contributed points to the Falcons' total. La Salle rebounded with four straight points to retake the lead. The Falcons tied it again at 13 off of a kill from Frick and regained the advantage off of a service ace from Kurtz. The Explorers tied the set at 20, before going on to take the 25-22 win.
Freshman Maiya Perich served up an ace to help the Falcons take a 5-2 lead in the second set, but La Salle responded with a 9-2 run to retake the lead. A quick kill by freshman Dani Griffith helped the Falcons pull within two, but the Explorers continued to maintain the lead. Frick and classmate Jessica Hellmann added kills, while Kurtz posted a kill and another ace in the waning minutes, but La Salle took the second set by a 25-18 score.
Frick and Stilwell opened the scoring for Air Force, but La Salle gained momentum with a nine-point lead to take an 11-4 advantage. But the Falcons fought back, until senior Michelle Harrington recorded a kill which tied the set at 17. Several errors by the Explorers opened the door for the Falcons to take the lead and another ace by Kurtz sealed the Falcons' 25-22 victory.
The opening minutes of the fourth set were a tight back-and-forth showdown, as neither team was willing to give up more than a two-point advantage. Stilwell tallied a pair of kills, while Harrington, Hellmann and Kurtz also added kills to their stat line. With the set tied at 20, Stilwell caught fire, accounting for all five of the Falcons' final points, including four kills and an assisted block. With another 25-22 score, Air Force had evened the series at two sets apiece.
Kurtz tallied the Falcons first two points of the second set, as the two teams traded points. Heading into the midway point, Air Force was able to convert four La Salle miscues into points and pull out to an 8-5 lead. The Explorers had no answer for Kurtz, who added another pair of kills to the score. But La Salle, playing its second five-set match of the day, took the lead at the 11-10 mark. An out-serve tied the score at 11 and the Falcons claimed the final four points to take the impressive 15-11 victory.
Stilwell and Kurtz paced the Falcons with kill totals of 17 and 15, respectively. In addition to leading the team with three blocks (one solo, two assisted) Stilwell connected on 17 of 32 attempts, while committing just four errors, for a match-high .406 average. Kurtz, who led the team in service aces with four, recorded a double-double with a team-best 15 digs. She was one of four Falcons to surpass the 10-dig mark, joining classmate Kelly Spencer (14), Konstanzer (11) and Perich (10). Hellmann assisted on 33 of the Falcons' 58 kills, while Griffith helped on six.
Air Force returns to action tomorrow (Aug. 29) for the final day of competition at the La Salle Invitational. The Falcons will face Fairleigh Dickinson at 9 a.m., before closing out the tournament with Canisius at 1 p.m.