Sept. 17, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Despite an impressive .389 hitting from senior Nichole Stilwell and a career-best five blocks from sophomore Preslee Maki, the Air Force volleyball team dropped three close sets to Buffalo during its first match of the West Point Challenge on Friday, Sept. 17, in West Point, N.Y. The Falcons, who fell to 2-8 on the season with the loss, fell by eight total points (25-23, 25-22, 25-22).
Stilwell posted a kill for the first point of the match, but Air Force found itself down 5-2. Senior Caroline Kurtz added a pair of kills, while freshman Annalyse Schmitt recorded a kill and assisted on a block with Stilwell. Backed by kills from Stilwell and Kurtz, the Falcons pulled within on (14-13) with a block by Maki and senior Jessica Hellmann. The Bulls extended their lead to four, and held a 23-18 lead. Sophomore Maiya Perich posted a pair of back-to-back service aces to help pull the Falcons within one at 23-22. Stilwell and Kurtz added another block, but ultimately fell by a 25-23 margin.
The two squads traded points during the beginning of the second set, but Buffalo used a 4-0 run to take cross the 10-point plateau first (10-6). Stilwell and Kurtz both put down a pair of kills, while Hellmann and Maki teamed up for a block to pull within on at 13-12. Air Force remained within one (18-17) following kills from senior Julia Hansen and Stilwell, while classmate Jacqueline Norton recorded a service ace. A kill by Maki helped the Falcons tie the set at 21, but a 4-1 run by the Bulls put the game away at 25-22.
Stilwell struck first once again in the third set, but Buffalo jumped out to a 5-2 lead. Senior Emily Frick, who had teamed up with Maki for a block earlier in the set, added a kill as Air Force scored four straight points to take the 8-7 lead. A pair of blocks by Stilwell and Hansen bookended a service ace by fellow senior Kelly Spencer. Buffalo once again took the lead, despite a pair of kills from Stilwell. Maki added another kill and teamed up with Hansen on a block to pull the Falcons within one (20-19). During that run, Hansen and Schmitt put down kills for Air Force. Schmitt added two more kills, but Air Force dropped the final set by a 25-22 margin.
Stilwell led the Falcons with nine kills and an impressive .389 hitting percentage. Connecting on nine of 18 attempts, while committing just two errors, Stilwell recorded the third-highest hitting percentage of the season. Hellmann paced the Falcons with 19 kills, while Spencer collected a team-best 15 digs. Maki led the team with a career-best five blocks.
Air Force returns to action this evening when it takes on tournament host Army at 7:30 p.m.