Sept. 19, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Air Force volleyball team snapped a five-match losing streak by defeating Hofstra, 3-1, during its final match of the West Point Challenge on Sunday, Sept. 19, in West Point, N.Y. Backed by a combined 31 kills from seniors Nichole Stilwell and Caroline Kurtz, the Falcons won in 25-22, 24-26, 25-23, 25-21 sets.
Kurtz and Stilwell paced the Falcons with respective kill totals of 16 and 15. Freshman Annalyse Schmitt hit a team-high .421, connecting on nine of 19 attempts, while committing just a single error. Stilwell also paced the Falcons with six blocks, including one solo block and five assisted stops, while Kurtz earned a team-high nine digs. Senior Jessica Hellmann collected a team-best 21 assists, while freshman Josalynn Wise added 19. Sophomore Maiya Perich recorded two of the team's six service aces.
The Falcons trailed 4-2 to start the match, despite a pair of kills from freshman Cami Richan, but quickly took a 5-4 lead behind three consecutive attacking errors by Hofstra. The Pride scored six of the next seven points to go up 11-7, before Air Force pulled within one (13-12) with kills from Richan, Schmitt and Stilwell, as well as an ace from Perich. Hofstra increased its lead back to five (18-13), before Air Force went on a furious rally to take a 20-19 lead. Stilwell added three kills during the Falcons' 7-1 run, while Kurtz and Schmitt each added one. Senior Kelly Spencer also put down a service ace during that span. The Pride evened the score at 20, 21 and again at 22, but an ace by Schmitt helped the Falcons take the first set by a 25-22 margin.
Hofstra struck first in the second set, going up 3-0, but Air Force used three kills by Kurtz and a fourth by sophomore Preslee Maki to take a 5-3 lead. The Falcons held a slim lead 8-7 lead, before using an 11-3 run to go up by a 19-10 margin. Stilwell sparked the Falcons' run with two kills, a solo block and another pair of assisted stops (Richan, Schmitt). Kurtz and Schmitt also added kills during that run. Following a timeout by Hofstra, the Pride used a 10-3 run of their own to pull within two (24-22). Schmitt added a kill, but the Pride scored the final four points to take the second set by a 26-24 score.
The third set was a close battle, as neither team was willing to sacrifice a lead greater than two points for the entire game. Kurtz and Stilwell tied the set at six, while Maki and Richan teamed up a block to even the score at 11. Kurtz recorded her first solo block of the season to match the score at 12 apiece, while a kill by Schmitt gave the Falcons a 15-13 lead. Hofstra retook the lead at 16-15, but senior Julia Hansen quickly recorded a kill to tie the set at 16. The Pride would take a one point lead, but the Falcons matched the score on the next point behind kills from Kurtz and Richan. Hofstra went up two at 21-19, but back-to-back blocks from Maki/Kurtz and Hellmann/Stilwell evened the score at 21. With the score deadlocked at 23, a kill and assisted block by Stilwell (Richan) gave the Falcons the 25-23 lead.
Perich's ace gave the Falcons the first point of the fourth set, but Hofstra used a 7-1 run to put the Falcons down five at 7-2. A kill and service ace by Kurtz helped the Falcons pull within one (8-7). Air Force continued to trail the Pride until a kill from Richan tied the set at 14 and a service ace by Wise gave the Falcons a 16-14 lead. Kurtz, Stilwell and Schmitt tallied kills as the Falcons went up 21-18. Hofstra pulled within two at 23-21, but Richan and Kurtz added the final two kills for the 25-21 Air Force victory.
Air Force opens Mountain West Conference action next week, when it travels to Las Vegas, Nev., to face UNLV on Friday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. (PST).