Oct. 20, 2011
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Despite a career-best matching 17 kills from sophomore Cami Richan, the Air Force volleyball team dropped a three-set heartbreaker to Wyoming on Thursday, Oct. 20. Opening the second half of the Mountain West season at the Academy, the Falcons fell in straight 25-17, 27-25, 25-23 sets.
Richan put down a match-leading 17 kills - a total that equaled her career-high that was first set on Sept. 1 in a five-set match against Denver. Accounting for just seven errors on 45 swings, she accounted for a .222 hitting percentage - her fourth highest average of the season. Freshman Victoria Foster added 11 kills, while classmate Ayesha Hein collected seven kills on 15 attempts, with just three errors, for a .267 average. As a team, the Falcons recorded 43 kills - its best single-match performance since Sept. 10, while their hitting average (.197) was the best since Sept. 16.
Freshman Hillary Keltner tallied 20 assists, while sophomore Josalynn Wise added 17. The duo, who saw time on the court together tonight, combined for 37 of the team's 42 helpers - its best total since early September.
"Both setters have great ball control," head coach Matt McShane said of the new lineup featuring Wise and Keltner in the same rotation. "And ball control is a key in winning games. We know that we'll find a way to win."
Richan, freshman Emma Dridge and junior Maiya Perich each added a service ace, while Perich led all players with 13 digs. A defensive specialist, Perich also got in on the offense, as she accounted for her second kill in as many matches.
Hein and Richan got the Falcons started in the first set, combining for three kills and a service ace to tie the set at four. Foster and Richan each added another pair of kills, while Dridge tallied a service ace to put the Falcons up 12-11. The Cowgirls took the lead two points later and advanced to the 25-17 win, despite kills from Richan and freshman Lizzy Carpenter.
Air Force found itself in a quick 3-0 hole to start the second set, but used a pair of Richan kills to help tie the set at four. Perich's kill gave the falcons its first lead of the game at 7-6 and kills from Foster and Hein helped Air Force keep a one-point lead (11-10). Wyoming took a 14-12 lead, before Richan laid down a pair of kills. Coupled with a pair of errors by the Cowgirls, Air Force regained the lead at 16-15. Foster put down kills for the Falcons next five points, as Air Force advanced the score to 23-21. A strike from Richan put the Falcons at set point, but Wyoming tied the set at 24. Richan evened the match at 25, but the Cowgirls scored the final two points for the 27-25 win.
Hein, Carpenter and Richan collected kills to open the third game, but Air Force found itself trailing after the first 15 points, as Wyoming doubled up the Falcons at 10-5. Freshman Kristen Holt accounted for all four of her kills in the final set, including a pair of back-to-back strikes to bring Air Force within three at 12-9. Trailing 17-11, Air Force used a 5-1 run behind kills from Hein (three), Foster (one) and Richan (one) to pull within two at 18-16. Wyoming pulled ahead by five at 21-16, but Air Force responded with kills from Richan, Holt and Keltner to once again pull within two (21-19). The Cowgirls hit match-point at 24-12, but kills from Richan and Foster, as well as an attacking error on Wyoming, brought Air Force back within one (24-23), but Wyoming collected the final kill for the 25-23 victory.
"We talked about getting more kills and cutting our errors," McShane said. "We looked at averaging 13 kills a game and got 14 tonight. Everything we worked on this week, we improved on tonight. I'm very proud of them. This match was a lot closer than the score."
The Falcons return to action on Saturday, Oct. 22, when they host Colorado State at 1 p.m.