Falcons Drop Three-Set Match to New Mexico
Oct. 18, 2008
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M - Despite a strong performance from sophomore Nichole Stilwell, the Air Force volleyball team fell 3-0 to New Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 18, in Albuquerque. The match, which concluded the first half of the Mountain West Conference season, was decided in straight 25-9, 25-13, 25-18 sets.
Stilwell led the Falcons with eight kills and a .235 hitting percentage (eight kills - four errors - 17 attempts). Senior Jasamine Pettie, whom the Lobos had no answer for in the third set, collected seven kills, while junior Michelle Harrington added four.
Stilwell also accounted for three of the Falcons' four blocks (one solo, two assisted), while freshman Victoria Martinez earned nine digs. Sophomore Jessica Hellmann recorded 11 assists, while classmate Stephanie Stanford added nine, including an impressive one as she was falling away from the attacker in order to set the ball. In addition, the setting duo added a service ace to their stat line.
The Falcons were unable to overcome the Lobos' attacking percentage, which finished the match with a .387 mark. New Mexico connected on 40 of 80 attempts, while committing just nine errors.
Air Force fell in an early 8-1 hole to start the match, before Stilwell's second kill of the night stopped the streaking Lobos. Sophomore Caroline Kurtz added a pair of kills, including one that landed in the very corner. Stilwell added another pair of kills, but New Mexico put the game away with a 25-9 tally.
New Mexico scored the first four points of the second set, before Stilwell and Pettie helped pull the Falcons within two (5-3). The game was delayed as the fire alarm sounded and everyone evacuated the building. When play resumed, Air Force again cut into the Lobos' lead, thanks to kills from Harrington and Pettie. The Falcons held New Mexico at set-point with two kills (Kurtz, senior Kristina Stewart) and an ace (Hellmann), but UNM took the set 25-13.
The two teams traded points to start the final set (3-3), as Pettie had an answer for every Lobo point. New Mexico used a 5-0 run to pull away, but Air Force pulled back within three at the 13-10 mark. A Pettie kill was the only Air Force point during a 5-1 run by the Lobos that widened their margin. However, the Falcons kept New Mexico from closing out the match, as they scored four of the next five points to close the gap. A pair of kills by Stilwell and Stanford's ace allowed the Falcons to reach 18 points - its best output of the weekend.
Air Force returns to the Academy next week to begin the second round of conference matches. The Falcons welcome BYU to Clune Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 22, before hosting Utah on Saturday, Oct. 25. Both matches are slated to begin at 7 p.m.