Air Force Takes Utah to Four in Loss
Sept. 17, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. - The Air Force volleyball team picked up its first "set" victory over Utah in seven attempts during a 3-1 loss to the Utes in the Mountain West Conference opener this evening (Sept. 17) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Air Force dropped the first sets by matching 25-20 scores, but rallied back to take the 25-23 victory in the third set. Utah ultimately took the match with a 25-14 win the fourth set to move the Falcons to 8-5 on the season.
The determined Falcons avoided a three-set sweep at the hands of the Utes for the first time since Oct. 15, 2005.
Air Force put the first three points on the board, as kills by juniors Nichole Stilwell and Emily Frick bookended a service ace by classmate Caroline Kurtz. Utah tallied six of the next seven points to take the lead at 6-4, but kills from Frick, Kurtz and freshman Grace Konstanzer gave the Falcons back the lead at 7-6. Utah tallied the next two scores, but two errors by the Utes and an ace by Konstanzer helped the Falcons regain a 10-8 lead. Utah went on a 7-2 run, interrupted only by kills from Kurtz and classmate Jessica Hellmann. Konstanzer and Kurtz added kills, while Frick and senior Michelle Harrington teamed up for a block, but Utah went on to take the 25-20 victory.
Utah rolled out to the early 13-7 lead to start the second set, but Air Force quickly cut the deficit to three behind two kill and an ace from Kurtz. Kills from Stilwell and Frick kept the Falcons within three, but Utah pulled away again to take the 25-20 vicotry.
A kill and a block by Harrington and another kill from Kurtz helped the Falcons roll to an early 5-1 lead in the third set, but the Utes went on a 7-0 run to take the 8-5 lead. Kurtz added another pair of kills and Hellmann added a service ace, while Stilwell tallied a kill to tie the set at nine. Stilwell added a pair of solo blocks, including one that retied the set at 11. Utah pulled its advantage to 15-11, but Stilwell added another kill to stop the streak. Air Force quickly fought back and a Stilwell kill evened the score at 18. Utah edged out to a 20-18 lead, but Hellmann and Kurtz took the Falcons under their wings, combining for three kills and two service aces. With the Falcons up 23-21, the two teams traded points and a kill from Frick cemented Air Force's 25-23 win.
Three straight Utah errors gave Air Force the early advantage in the fourth set, but the Utes responded to take a 5-4 lead. Kurtz added a pair of aces, while Konstanzer put down a kill to give the Falcons an 8-5 lead. Utah used several long scoring streaks to halt the Falcons' offense and take the 25-14 win.
Kurtz led all players on either side of the net with 15 kills, while Stilwell added 11 kills and three blocks. Kurtz added 10 digs to her stat line for her sixth double-double of the season, while posting a team-leading five service aces for the second straight meet. Four Falcons accounted for aces in the match. In addition to the five aces by Kurtz, Hellmann added a pair and Harrington and Konstanzer each added one. Kurtz was also one of three Falcons to tally double-digit dig numbers. Freshman Maiya Perich led the Falcons with 14, while junior Kelly Spencer and Kurtz added 11 and 10, respectively.
Air Force wraps up its 14-match season-opening road trip on Saturday, Sept. 19, when it travels to BYU for another Mountain West Conference showdown. The match is slated to begin at 1 p.m., at Smith Field House on the campus of BYU.