Attacking Woes Doom Falcons in Loss at Utah
Oct. 16, 2010
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Hitting errors doomed the Air Force volleyball team during a 3-0 loss to Utah in Mountain West Conference action on Saturday, Oct. 16, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Committing 23 hitting errors, the Falcons fell in straight 25-10, 25-19, 25-18 scores to the host Utes at Crimson Court. Senior Jessica Hellmann had a solid day, collecting an ace, solo block, two kills, four digs and 16 assists.
Utah controlled the opening set from the first serve, jumping out to an early 6-1 lead. Senior Nichole Stilwell collected a pair of kills, while classmates Jessica Hellmann and Kelly Spencer added a kill and service ace, respectively, to help pull the score within three at 7-4. The Utes expanded their lead to nine, scoring seven of the next eight points to take a 14-5 lead. Stilwell, senior Caroline Kurtz and classmate Julia Hansen added kills, but Utah took the first set by at 25-10 score.
The second set started close, with Air Force remaining within one at 5-4 off of a kill by Kurtz. Utah opened its lead to four (8-4), but Air Force responded. Hansen added a kill and the Falcons forced Utah in committing several errors so that a kill by Stilwell closed the gap to one at 11-10. Hellmann added a kill, but the Utes scored eight of the next nine points to take a 19-11 lead. Air Force once again responded, taking five of the next six points. Kurtz contributed a pair of kills, while Hansen added one during that run. Freshmen Cami Richan and Annalyse Schmitt got on the board with a combined three kills in the final plays, but Utah took the second set 25-19.
Air Force took the early 7-4 lead to start the third set behind a pair of kills from Schmitt and a single kill from Stilwell. Utah snuck back to go ahead 9-8, but Kurtz tied the set with kills at nine and again at 10. Hellmann put down a service ace to put the Falcons up one (11-10), but Utah went on a run to retake the lead and increase it to 18-12. Schmitt stopped the run with a kill, while Hansen and sophomore Preslee Maki teamed up for a block to help Air Force cut its deficit to four (18-14). Air Force recorded a final kill from Stilwell and a solo block from Hellmann, before falling 25-18 to the Utes.
Kurtz and Stilwell led the team with six kills apiece, while Schmitt added five. Stilwell, one of just three Falcons to hit above .000, led the team with a .125 average. In addition to her service ace and solo block, Hellmann collected 16 assists. Spencer, who earned the club's other ace, paced the squad with nine digs.
"We play great in the middle of sets," head coach Matt McShane. "We push, we win rallies and force the other team to make errors. We need to be courageous during the start and fearless at the end. We need to earn points and make plays at the end."
The Falcons return to action on Thursday, Oct. 21, when they close out the first round of Mountain West Conference action against San Diego State. The match, a nationally televised contest on The Mtn., will begin at 7:30 p.m.