Air Force Claims Thrilling Five-Game Win Over A&T
Sept. 8, 2007
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - Backed by four players with double-digit kill totals, the Air Force volleyball team pulled out a thrilling five-game victory over North Carolina A&T on Saturday, Sept. 8, in Boiling Springs, N.C. After falling 2-1 in the first three matches (22-30, 30-24, 26-30), the Falcons responded with 30-25 and 15-13 victories to take the five-game match.
Freshman Nichole Stilwell earned the Falcons' first point with a commanding kill, but the Aggies took the early 14-5 lead. Junior Kristina Stewart posted a kill that stopped the scoring by A&T. Senior Kim Kallabis served up an ace and freshman Nichole Stilwell posted a solo block, but A&T took the 25-15 lead. Stewart added four kills during the final run, but North Carolina A&T took the first set by a 30-22 score.
Air Force claimed the first two points of the second set, but A&T quickly responded and took a 3-2 lead. Junior Jasamine Pettie and sophomore Michelle Harrington teamed up for a block to tie the set at three. The duo teamed up again to give the Falcons the lead at 5-4, before freshman Caroline Kurtz put down a pair of attacks to help pull the score to 9-5. Kallabis added back-to-back aces as the Falcons doubled up the Aggies 12-6. A&T climbed back and pulled the set within three, but a pair of blocks helped the Falcons regain their sizable advantage. Air Force watched as the Aggies pulled within three once more at 23-20 mark, but two out balls and kills from Kurtz and Stilwell helped guide the Falcons to the 30-24 victory
The third set went back and forth from the very first serve, as neither team gave up more than a two-point lead throughout the first 27 points. Stilwell posted two hard kills before the score had reached 10. Freshman Stephanie Stanford posted an ace, while Stilwell added several more kills, including one that tied the game at 24. A&T finally earned the first three-point lead at 27-24, before taking the game 30-26.
Pettie tallied the first point of the fourth game and two Aggie errors gave the Falcons the early lead. Sophomore Katie Batchelder recorded back-to-back kills as Kurtz served the Falcons to a 10-5 lead. The Falcons doubled the Aggies at 14-7, but A&T began to creep back. Kurtz and Batchelder added kills to keep the Falcons' lead. Down eight, A&T used another run to pull within five at 25-20. Two Air Force setting errors brought the Aggies within three, but an ace by Kurtz re-extended the lead. Harrington added another kill and guided the Falcons to a 30-25 victory to force a fifth and final game.
Air Force took an early 3-1 lead behind kills from Batchelder and Kurtz to start the fifth game, but A&T quickly evened things up. Harrington and freshman Jessica Hellmann teamed up for a block to retake the lead. Air Force entered the midway point ahead by an 8-6 margin, but the Aggies took the lead three points later. A kill by Harrington tied the set at nine and an A&T error gave the Falcons back the lead. The Aggies once again claimed the go-ahead point to take the 13-12 advantage, but Stillwell, Harrington and Kurtz responded with three straight kills to give Air Force the thrilling 15-13 victory.
Stilwell led all athletes with 23 kills and a .474 hitting percentage. Harrington added 18 kills and a team-best six blocks, while Batchelder and Kurtz added 10 kills apiece. In addition, Batchelder (10 kills-15 digs) and Kurtz (10 kills-17 digs) each recorded double-doubles. Kallabis, who posted three aces, led the setters with 47 helpers, while Hellmann chipped in 18. Freshman Kelly Spencer, who served as the libero in the final four games, led all Falcons with 29 digs. Classmate Stephanie Stanford also tallied a double-digit total in digs with 11.
Harrington was named to the all-tournament team for her stellar performance this weekend.
Air Force begins a busy week of competition on Tuesday, Sept. 11, when it hosts Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference opener at the Academy. The Falcons then travel to Prairie View, Texas, for the Lady Panther Invitational on Sept. 14-15, playing four matches in two days to close out the tournament season.