Air Force Takes Denver to Five in Close 3-2 Loss
Sept. 1, 2011
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force volleyball team rallied from a 0-2 deficit to force a deciding game five in the opening match of the Denver Invitational on Thursday, Sept. 1. After dropping the first two sets (25-20, 25-22), Air Force rallied to win the third (26-24) and fourth (25-22) games before falling in the final set by a narrow 15-13 margin.
Junior co-captain Maiya Perich set a new Academy Division I single-match record with 36 digs, breaking the previous 2007 standard by seven. Perich was one of three Falcons to tally double-digit dig totals, as Air Force posted a combined 80 digs.
Freshman Ayesha Hein put the Falcons on the board first, while sophomore Cami Richan gave the Falcons a 3-2 lead. Hein also evened the score at four, but Denver scored three of the next four points to go up 7-5. Freshman Kristen Holt, sophomore Claire Bieber and freshman Lizzy Carpenter added kills to tie the score at eight. Hein collected a pair of kills to help the Falcons' even the score at 11 and again at 12. The Pioneers scored the next five points to go up 17-12. Sophomore Josalynn Wise posted a service ace, while kills by Richan (18-15) and Holt (20-17) kept the Falcons within three. Hein added one more kill, but Denver took the first set 25-20.
The Pioneers jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, before Richan sparked an Air Force run that evened the set at six. The two teams traded three-point runs until Denver went up 13-10. Carpenter collected a kill, while a score by Hein brought the Falcons within one at 14-13. Denver went up 18-15, but Air Force responded once more, as Richan and Holt helped even the match at 19. Air Force pulled within one at the 23-22 mark, but the Pioneers tallied the final two points to take the set 25-22.
Denver scored the first two points of the third set, but freshmen Megan Clary and Victoria Foster put down kills to help the Falcons tie the score at three. Following another Foster kill, Air Force scored five of the next six points to take an 8-5 lead. Hein posted back-to-back kills and added a block, while Richan put down another kill. Denver tied the score at 10, but Richan and Clary helped Air Force tie the score at 13. Kills from Foster evened the score at 15 and again at 16, while a DU error and a kill from Richan put the Falcons ahead by two (18-16). Air Force took a 23-20 lead behind two kills and an ace from Richan. The Pioneers scored the next three points to even the set at 23, but Carpenter stopped Denver's streak with a kill. The two squads traded points, but Foster put down a kill to give the Falcons the 26-24 win.
The two squads traded points to start the fourth set, with a kill from Foster tying the set at six. Denver scored the next two points, but Hein and Richan helped even the score at eight. The Pioneers took a three-point lead (13-10), but Air Force scored six of the next seven points to take a 16-14 lead. Carpenter and Foster each added a pair of kills during that run, while Perich recorded a service ace. Following a kill by Hein at the 17-15 mark, the teams traded points, while Richan adding a pair of scores. Denver evened the score at 21, but Foster scored two of the Falcons' final four points as Air Force won the fourth set by a 25-22 score.
Playing in its first "fifth" set of the year, Foster (kill) and Perich (ace) helped Air Force to an early 3-1 lead. Denver evened the score at three, but kills from Foster allowed Air Force to take a 4-3 lead and later tie the set at five. Hein, Richan and Carpenter added kills to even the score at eight. The Falcons traded points with the Pioneers, with Foster adding a pair of scores to give the Falcons a 13-12 lead. Denver ultimately took the final three points to win the set by a 15-13 score.
"I am very proud of how we played in the last three sets," head coach Matt McShane said. "We're still learning. We can't start slow, but I am very pleased with our last sets. We had some great performances off of the bench with Victoria (Foster) and Megan (Clary)."
Richan led the Falcons with 17 kills, while Foster and Hein added 16 and 14, respectively. With 10 digs, Richan also posted a double-double for the second straight match, joining Perich (36) and freshman Emma Dridge (14) in double figures for that statistic. Foster hit a team-high .355, as she collected 16 kills on 31 assists, while committing just five errors. Perich recorded a pair of service aces, while Hein collected two blocks (one solo, one assisted). Freshman Hillary Keltner more than doubled her single-match assist total, accounting for 44 helpers over the five sets.
The Falcons continue action tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 2) with a pair of matches at the Denver Invitational. Air Force will take on Bryant at noon, before facing No. 13 Purdue at 5 p.m. Both matches will be held at Denver's Hamilton Gymnasium.