Aug 31, 2013
DENVER, Colo. - The Air Force volleyball team closed out the Pioneer Classic with a 3-1 loss to Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Saturday, Aug. 31, in Denver. The Falcons mounted a remarkable rally in the opening set to take the 25-21 victory, before falling in straight 25-18, 25-23, 25-22 sets to the Islanders.
Sophomore Akokwe Clement tied for the match-lead with 13 kills, while junior Ayesha Hein added 10 and accounted for a match-best .588 hitting percentage (10k-0e-17a). Junior Hillary Keltner, who recorded 41 of the team's 45 assists, also paced all players with a career-best 27 digs. Sophomore Rebecca Bates added a pair of service aces, while classmate Raquel Rosas recorded seven blocks (all-assisted).
Air Force gave up the first 10 points to Texas A&M Corpus Christi, before Rosas put down a pair of kills to stop the Islanders' early run. Rosas added another kill, while five errors by TAMUCC cut into the Falcons' deficit. Back-to-back kills by Clement and a service ace from junior Emma Dridge evened the score at 11. The Islanders retook the lead, but a kill from Hein helped the Falcons tie the score at 16, while a score by senior Cami Richan evened the set at 18. Two consecutive kills from Rosas gave Air Force its first lead of the set at 20-19. Rosas teamed with Richan for a block (22-19), while kills from Clement (two) and Richan (one) gave the Falcons the 25-21 comeback win.
The Falcons surrendered the first six points of the second set, before Rosas halted the Islanders' streak with a kill. Air Force scored the next six points, behind three kills from Clement, a pair of blocks (Rosas/Clement; Rosas/Clement) and a service ace from Bates, to take a 7-6 lead. Richan (8-6), Hein (10-8) and sophomore Maggie Sherrill (12-10) kept the Falcons' advantage at two, before Texas A&M Corpus Christi scored 10 of the next 12 points to take a 20-15 lead. Rosas, Hein and Clement added kills, but the Islanders went on to win the second set by a 25-18 score.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi tallied the first point, but Air Force took the 7-3 advantage behind kills from Clement, Hein and Sherrill, as well as Clement's first career service ace. Texas A&M Corpus Chris retook the lead following an 8-0 run. Rosas and freshman Collette Foster teamed up for a block to stop the Islanders' run, before each recording a kill to pull the Falcons back within three (15-12). A pair of kills from Hein, as well as individual tallied from Clement and Foster brought the Falcons within one (20-19), while another block from Foster and Rosas evened the set at 20. The duo teamed up for another block, but Texas A&M Corpus Christi took the set by a 25-23 margin.
The two squads traded points throughout the fourth set, with Clement (2-2) and Hein (3-3, 4-4) providing the tying marks. A block by Rosas and Keltner, as well as a kill from Foster gave the Falcons a two-point advantage (7-5). Rosas and Foster teamed up for a block, while Richan earned back-to-back kills to put the Falcons up three (12-9). Hein, Clement and Foster added kills before the Islanders tied the set at 16. A kill by Rosas and another ace from Bates helped Air Force return its lead to 20-17, but the Islanders scored the next six points to take a 23-20 advantage. Richan and Clement added kills in the final minutes, but Texas A&M Corpus Christi took the final set, 25-22.
"Everyone needs to be more consistent," head coach Matt McShane said. "We're making big plays, but we need to make more. We're playing at a high level and learning to win sets ... now we have to learn how to win matches. Coco (Foster) played really well; it was nice to see her come in and get some kills and blocks. Our middles (Ayesha and Rocky) played awesome, too."
Air Force returns to action next weekend, when it travels to San Francisco for the Bay Area Challenge. The Falcons will play Long Beach State, San Francisco and St. Mary's over the Sept. 6-7 weekend.