Air Force Swept by UNLV in Home Opener
Sept. 24, 2009
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force volleyball team dropped a 3-0 match to UNLV in Mountain West Conference action on Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Academy. The Falcons, playing at home for the first time of the 2009 campaign, fell in 25-23, 25-18, 25-23 sets to the visiting Rebels. The loss drops the Falcons to 8-7 on the season (0-3 MWC), while UNLV improved to 3-7 (2-1 MWC).
Senior Michelle Harrington and junior Nichole Stilwell led the Falcons with 10 kills apiece. Harrington, hitting at a match-leading .667 clip, connected on 10 of 15 kills, while committing no errors. She also recorded a solo block and assisted junior Julia Hansen on another stop. Junior Jessica Hellmann accounted for 38 of the team's 41 kills, while recorded three service aces. Classmate Kelly Spencer tallied 17 digs to pace the Falcons.
A kill by Harrington put the Falcons on the board first, but the two teams traded points. The Falcons and Rebels accounted for 14 ties before evening the set at 18. Another kill from Harrington and a UNLV error gave the Falcons a two-point lead at 20-18, but the Rebels came right back to tie the set at 20. Air Force again took a two-point advantage, but two attacking errors allowed UNLV to even things at 22. The Rebels scored three of the next four points to win the first set by a 25-23 margin.
Air Force struck first in the second match. Junior Caroline Kurtz put down a kill, as the Falcons rolled to an early 4-1 lead. UNLV came back to tie the set at five and the two squads traded points, tying the set seven more times before hitting the 13-all mark. Air Force took a 16-14 lead off of a kill by Stilwell, but UNLV again tied the score. The Rebels pulled away in the waning minutes, using a 9-2 run to take the second game by a 25-18 score.
Harrington put down a kill to give the Falcons the first point. But, in keeping with the theme of the first two sets, the two teams traded points, accounting for four deadlocked scores before either team reached six. Air Force used a three-point run to take an 8-5 lead, but UNLV came back to tie the score at 10. Air Force and UNLV went point-for-point for the next several exchanges. With the score even at 14, freshman Grace Konstanzer put down a kill that started a 6-1 run by the Falcons. Air Force held a 20-15 lead, which included another kill from Konstanzer. UNLV used its second 9-2 run of the night to take the match with another 25-23 win.
The Falcons, who bettered the Rebels in kills (41-38) and service aces (4-0), had no answer for the block. UNLV accounted for 10 total blocks, including three solo stops, while the Falcons amassed just two total blocks.
After this brief home respite, Air Force heads back out on the road next week, traveling to TCU (Oct. 1) and New Mexico (Oct. 3) for another pair of Mountain West Conference matches.