Sept. 11, 2013
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Air Force volleyball team claimed a thrilling 3-2 victory over service academy rival Navy on Wednesday, Sept. 11, in Annapolis, Md. The Falcons improved to 11-1 all-time against the Midshipmen following a 25-22, 19-25, 25-21, 24-26, 15-4 victory at Wesley Brown Field House.
Senior Cami Richan, who led the Falcons with 14 kills, was one of four Falcons to record double-digit kill totals, as sophomore Maggie Sherrill (12), junior Hillary Keltner (10) and classmate Ayesha Hein (10). Keltner, who notched her 19th career double-double by adding 44 assists, also led the team in hitting with a .562 average. Hein tallied three of the team's 10 service aces, with sophomore Rebecca Bates, junior Emma Dridge and senior Josalynn Wise each adding a pair. Dridge recorded a career-best 27 digs to pace all players, while sophomore Raquel Rosas led the team with three blocks (all assisted).
The first set opened with a service ace from Bates, while a pair of kills from Richan counted towards Air Force's score as the two teams traded points. A kill from sophomore Akokwe Clement sparked a 6-1 run by the Falcons that included kills from Hein and Keltner, as well as a service ace from Clement. A kill from Rosas put the Falcons up four (10-6), while back-to-back kills from Richan and Clement kept Air Force's lead at four (12-8). Navy cut the lead to one (12-11), but a kill from Richan and a service ace from Dridge pushed the advantage back to four (15-11). Navy came back again, cutting the lead to two at 21-19, before kills from Richan (two), Clement and Sherrill secured the 25-22 victory for Air Force.
Backed by a kill from Sherrill and a block by Rosas and Clement, the Falcons scored the first four points of the second set. Navy responded with seven of the next nine points to earn its first lead of the match at the 7-6 mark. The Midshipmen increased its lead to four (12-8) and, despite kills from Keltner and Richan, eventually seven (18-11). A kill from Richan that sparked a short Air Force run, as the Falcons cut their deficit to four with two kills from Hein and a service ace from Wise. Bates added another ace, while Hein, Rosas and Richan tallied kills, but Navy took the second set 25-19.
Although Clement put the Falcons on the board early with a solo block, Navy raced out to a 10-4 lead in the third set. Air Force returned the rally, scoring seven of the next eight to even the set at 11. Sherrill tallied three aces during the run, while Hein tallied an ace and Richan and Rosas teamed up for a block. The Mids used another run to go ahead 15-11, but a pair of kills from Rosas brought the Falcons within one (15-14). Navy took the 21-18 advantage, but Air Force responded with a 7-0 run to close out the set. Sherrill put down a pair of back-to-back kills, while Keltner added one and Hein served up another ace. Three straight attacking errors by the Mids capped off Air Force's 25-21 victory.
An ace by Dridge helped the Falcons to the first two points of the fourth set, while kills from Clement, Sherrill and Keltner put the Falcons ahead 6-3. Rosas and Richan added kills, but the Midshipmen tied the set at 11 and took the lead at the 13-12 mark. Keltner, Sherrill and Wise put down kills that gave the lead back to Air Force (17-15), but Navy one again tied the set at 18. A kill from Hein off of an overpass evened the set at 20, while she and Richan gave the lead back to Air Force at 22-21. The score tied at 23 and again at 24, before Navy captured the final two points for the 26-24 win.
The Falcons dominated the final set, jumping out to the fast 8-2 lead behind a pair of kills from both Richan and Clement, as well as a pair of blocks (Hein/Richan; Hein/Keltner). A kill from Hein put Air Force at the 10-point mark (10-3) and forced Navy into its final timeout. Wise added another ace, while Keltner and Sherrill tallied kills. A final block from Sherrill and Rosas closed out the deciding set with a 15-4 Air Force victory.
"Rivalries are always emotional," head coach Matt McShane, improving to 3-0 all-time against the Midshipmen. "It wasn't our smoothest match, but it was a win against a rival ... and those matches are huge. We (told the team in the locker room) that Ayesha, Cami and Jos have bragging rights against Navy for the rest of their lives in the military. They're going to meet those girls again ... it's a win, a great win. There were some bright spots ... our defense stepped up quite a bit at the end and we started stopping their middles. We ended up serving much better
The Falcons return to action tomorrow (Sept. 12) at 4:00 p.m. EST, when they face eighth-ranked Stanford in the first match of the Service Academy Challenge in Washington D.C.