LOGAN, Utah – A late rally fell just three points short, as the Air Force volleyball team suffered a tough 3-2 loss to Utah State this evening (Nov. 11) in Logan, Utah. After dropping the first two sets by 25-19, 25-20 margins, the Falcons evened the match with a pair of 25-22 victories, before falling 15-12 to the host Aggies in the deciding set.
During the contest, senior Piper Heineck became the program’s Division I leader in both assisted and total blocks, as she registered a match-high eight stops (all assisted)
Sophomore Denise Ssozi registered her sixth double-double of the season, as she recorded 17 kills and a career-high 23 digs. Junior Shanleigh Conlan also earned a double-double on the night – her eighth of the year – with 24 assists and 10 digs. Heineck (10) and junior Abigail Miksch (11) both added at least 10 kills, while freshmen Alex King (15) and Jordan Daniels 11) also reached double figures in digs. Fellow freshman Andi Ahlers rounded out the Falcons’ list of stat leaders with three service aces.
Miksch kicked off the scoring for the Falcons, registering a pair of kills and one ace as the Falcons and Aggies battled to a 5-5 tie in the opening points of the match. Utah State scored five straight points to take a 10-6 advantage, before extending its lead to eight at the 17-9 mark. Freshman Cambria Galloway put down a kill and Ahlers served up her first ace, as Air Force scored four of the next five points to cut into the Aggies’ lead. Ssozi added three kills and a solo stop, but Utah State took the opening set, 25-19.
Ssozi put down the first point of the second set, while Heineck (two) and Miksch (one) added kills to even the set at six. Utah State scored seven of the next eight points to go up 13-7, before Ssozi and junior Lauren Heldt put down kills to stop the run and pull within three (10-13). Heineck assisted with Miksch on her record-breaking block at the 12-16 mark, before adding a second assisted stop (freshman Mackenzie Robertson) for the Falcons’ next point (13-18). Ahlers and King registered aces, while Ssozi (two) and Heldt (one) combined for three kills, but the Aggies claimed the 25-20 victory.
Freshman Brynn Sulte recorded a kill to open the third set, but Utah State took an early 4-1 lead. A kill and block from Heineck book-ended an ace from Ahlers that evened the set at four. Back-to-back kills from Heineck and Miksch gave the Falcons a 6-5 lead, while an ace from Heineck pushed the squad’s advantage to two (8-6). The Aggies scored the next three points to retake the lead, but Robertson and Heldt put down kills to tie the set at 10. Ssozi and Sulte teamed up for a block at 11-all, but Utah State scored four of the next five points to take the 15-12 lead. Air Force evened the set at 15 following a Ssozi kill and a Heineck/Robertson block. The blockers teamed up for another stop that tied the score at 16, while a kill and block from Sulte, as well as a score from Miksch, gave the Falcons a two-point lead (19-17). The Aggies responded to even the score at 22, but Heldt, Ssozi and Heineck put down three straight kills to cement the 25-22 victory.
Sulte opened the scoring in the fourth set, while Heineck and Ssozi teamed up for a block that gave Air Force the early 4-2 lead. The Falcons extended their lead to five (9-4) following kills from Ssozi and Miksch, another Heineck/Robertson block and a solo stop by Sulte, while a second kill from Miksch and a service ace from Conlan pushed the squad’s advantage to six (11-5). Back-to-back kills from Miksch and Heldt kept the Falcons’ lead at six (13-7), but the Aggies began to cut into that advantage and eventually used a 7-1 run to take a two-point lead (19-17). Highlighted by kills from Sulte, Ssozi and Heldt, Air Force scored five of the next six points to take its own two-point lead (22-20). The Aggies pulled within one at 23-22, but Heldt and Ssozi scored the final two kills and Air Force evened the match with a 25-22 win.
Sulte tallied the Falcons’ first offensive point for the third straight set, while a service ace from Daniels and a solo block from Ssozi gave Air Force a quick 4-0 lead. Utah State scored the next seven points to take a 7-4 advantage and the teams switched sides with the Aggies holding an 8-5 lead. Heineck added a pair of kills, while Miksch registered two kills and a block, but Utah State took the set by a 15-12 margin to hold off the Falcons’ rally and secure the five-set victory.
Air Force begins the final week of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 15, when they host New Mexico d the final home contest of the season. Prior to the contest, the Falcons will honor Heineck during their Senior Night celebration.