USAF ACADEMY, Colo. -- Backed by an Air Force Division I record 25.0 blocks, the Air Force volleyball team captured a five-set thriller of San Diego State this afternoon (Nov. 5) at the Academy. The Falcons, who also posted program-best marks in assisted blocks with 46, defeated the Aztecs 24-26, 25-19, 27-25, 20-25, 15-10 to win their fourth-straight contest inside Cadet East Gym.
Senior Piper Heineck led the Falcons' block party, tallying a pair of Academy records in the process. Backed by 13 assisted blocks -- a new Air Force all-time single-match record, the senior broke her own DI single-match record with 14 total stops. Freshman Kathleen Medill added nine (all assisted), while junior Lauren Heldt (seven; all assisted), sophomore Denise Ssozi (six; all assisted), junior Abigail Miksch (five; one solo, four assisted), freshman Cambia Galloway (five; all assisted) and freshman Mackenzie Robertson (two, both assisted) also registered at least two stops on the day.
Heineck, who hit .458 on the day with 15 kills on 24 attempts and just four errors, was one of three Falcons to register double-digit kills in the win. Miksch led all players with 17 strikes on .311 hitting (17k-3e-45a) and added a match-best two service aces, while Ssozi added 11 kills and nearly reached a double-double with nine digs. Junior Shanleigh Conlan registered a team-high 29 assists, while freshman Alex King rounded out the Falcons' statistical leaders with 19 digs.
San Diego State opened the match on a quick 3-1 run, before Miksch put down a kill and assisted on a block with Medill to even the score at three. The Aztecs retook the lead on the next point, before pushing its advantage out to four (10-6). Kills from Miksch and Galloway, as well as a block from Medill and Heldt, brought the Falcons within one (11-12), before a kill from Heldt helped the Falcons tie the set at 14. San Diego State retook a four-point lead (19-15), but Air Force responded with six of the next seven points to take a 21-20 advantage. The Falcons benefitted from three Aztec attacking errors during the run, while Heineck (two) and Miksch (one) combined for three kills. San Diego State took a 23-22 lead, before Medill put down a kill to tie the score at 23. A service ace by Miksch put the Falcons at set-point, but the Aztecs earned the final three points off Air Force errors to take the set by a 26-24 margin.
The Aztecs jumped out to another 3-1 lead and, like the first set, Air Force tied the score at three off of a Miksch/Medill block. Another block, this time by Heldt and Heineck, helped the Falcons tie the set at six, and the two squads traded the next six points (nine-all). Backed by blocks from Heineck/Galloway and Miksch, the Falcons took a 13-10 advantage. Galloway teamed up with Heineck for another stop (14-12), while a kill from Miksch sent Air Force into the media timeout with a 15-12 advantage. Miksch added another kill and teamed up with Medill and Heldt for a triple block, while Heineck and Ssozi both registered kills and assisted on blocks to keep the advantage with Air Force. A block from Heineck and Galloway put the Falcons at set-point and Heineck recorded a kill to give the Falcons the 25-19 victory.
Heineck opened the third set with a pair of blocks (solo; assisted), while a kill from Miksch gave Air Force the 3-1 lead. Medill tallied a pair of kills and teamed up with Heldt for a block, as Air Force extended its advantage to four (7-3). San Diego State tied the set at eight-all, before Heineck registered three straight kills to put Air Force up, 12-9. The Falcons continued to maintain a three-point lead (18-15), receiving three kills and an ace from Miksch. Scores from Medill and Heineck put the Falcons at the 20-point mark (20-16), while another set of scores from pair put Air Force at set-point (24-22). The Aztecs tied the set at 24 and reached their own set-point on the next play. Medill and Ssozi registered a block on the next play, while a Heineck/Ssozi stop and an Aztec error gave Air Force the 27-25 victory.
Like a first two sets, the Aztecs took a 3-1 lead and the Falcons used a block to even the score at three (Medill/Heldt). San Diego State scored the next four points (7-3) and maintained a four-point lead (9-5), before a service ace from Conlan pulled the Falcons within one (8-9). Air Force remained within one off of kills from Heineck (10-11) and Galloway (11-12), while an ace from freshman Andi Ahlers tied the set at 12. San Diego State scored eight of the next nine points to go ahead by a 20-13 margin. Ssozi and Heineck tallied kills and assisted each other on a block, but San Diego State evened the match with the 25-20 victory.
San Diego State scored the first three points of the deciding set, before Medill put down a kill to stop the run. With freshman Jordan Daniels at the serving line, the Falcons scored the next five points to take a 6-4 lead. Heineck assisted on a pair of blocks (Heldt, Ssozi) during the run, while back-to-back kills from Ssozi gave Air Force the 8-4 lead. Heineck added another pair of points (kill, assisted block with Ssozi and Robertson) to put the Falcons in double digits with a 10-6 lead. Medill teamed up for blocks with Robertson and Heldt, while kills from Miksch and Ssozi put down kills to secure the Falcons' 15-10 win.
"Wow," head coach Marc Swindle said after the match. "San Diego State is a great team. They had been on a roll, so for us to take care of business ... it was a really fun match and another great team effort."
Air Force heads back out on the road next week to complete its final home-and-home series of the 2017 campaign. The Falcons will travel to Boise State on Thursday, Nov. 10, before closing the weekend at Utah State on Saturday, Nov. 11.