USAF ACADEMY, Colo. -- Four players registered double-digit kill totals, as the Air Force volleyball team captured a 3-2 victory over Fresno State this evening (Nov. 3) at the Academy. After winning the first two sets by 26-24, 25-17 margins, the Falcons responded to a match-tying comeback by the Bulldogs (21-25, 18-25) and won the deciding set by a 15-8 score.
Sophomore Denise Ssozi (15), junior Abigail Miksch (13), senior Piper Heineck (12) and freshman Kathleen Medill (12) combined for 52 of the team's kills, as Air Force out-killed the Bulldogs by a 61-45 margin. Medill hit at a team-leading clip of .381 (12-4-21), while Heineck registered eight blocks (one solo, seven assisted), Ssozi notched her fifth double-double (10 digs) and Miksch tied for the team lead with a pair of service aces. Freshman Andi Ahlers, who tied with Miksch in aces, recorded a 24 assists and classmate Alex King rounded out the team's stat leaders with a match-best 15 digs.
Fresno State scored the first point of the match and jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead, before Air Force used a 7-1 run to take a two-point advantage (8-6). Medill, Ssozi and junior Lauren Heldt registered kills during the Falcons' early run, while Miksch added a pair of service aces. The Bulldogs tied the set at nine and retook the lead on the ensuing point. Fresno State pushed its lead out to five at the 20-15 mark, before kills from Miksch and freshman Cambria Galloway helped tie the set at 22. Miksch scored the Falcons' next two points, while a Heldt/Medill block and a Ssozi kill gave Air Force the 26-24 victory.
The second set started similar to the first, as Fresno State took an early 4-0 lead. Heineck teamed up with Heldt for a block and added a kill, while a service ace from Medill capped a 5-0 run by the Falcons to give Air Force the 5-4 advantage. The Falcons pushed their lead to two (7-5) off of an ace by junior Shanleigh Conlan, before a solo stop by Heineck gave Air Force a four-point advantage (10-6). The Bulldogs pulled within one three plays later, but Heineck (kill, ace), Ssozi (kill) and Medill (kill) registered points that increased the Falcons lead to five (16-11). Medill, Heineck, Heldt and Ssozi added kills, as the Falcons took the second set by a 25-17 margin.
A pair of kills from Heineck helped Air Force take a 4-0 lead to open the third set, while back-to-back scores from Miksch kept the Falcons in front. Fresno State tied the set at 10, but Air Force retook the lead off of a serving error on the next play. The Falcons extended their lead to four (16-11), before the Bulldogs scored the next nine points to take their own four-point lead (20-16). Medill accounted for the run-stopping kill and added another score, but Fresno State took the set by a 25-21 margin.
The two squads traded the first four points of the fourth set, before Heldt (kill, assisted block) and Ahlers (ace) helped Air Force take a 6-2 lead. Fresno State responded to even the score at six and the teams traded the next eight points to match scores at 10. The Bulldogs tallied the next three points and pushed their advantage out to five at the 18-13 mark. Heldt, Ssozi and Medill added kills, but Fresno State evened up the match with the 25-18 set win.
Backed by pair of kills and an assisted block, Miksch helped the Falcons take a quick 4-0 lead to start the deciding set. Another two scores by Miksch and Ahlers' second ace of the night pushed the Falcons' advantage to five (7-2), while three-straight kills from Ssozi gave Air Force a 12-4 lead. Heineck teamed up with Heldt for a block and added a kill, as Air Force took the decisive set by a 15-8 margin.
With the win, Air Force swept its season series with Fresno State for the first time in program history and improved 6-9 in its all-time standings with the Bulldogs.
"It really was a team win," head coach Marc Swindle said. "I'm really proud of our middles - they hit very well. Kat and Piper both had some long serving runs and when you score points in bunches - that really makes things easier. Our defense, at the end, was great. (Fresno State) had a good game plan to block us and I thought that we mixed it up a lot. We were aggressive and it was just a great team win."
Air Force returns to action on Sunday, Nov. 5, when it hosts San Diego State at 1:00 p.m. (MT).