Falcons Drop Season Finale with 3-0 Loss to Utah
Nov. 21, 2009
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force volleyball team dropped a three-set decision to Utah in its final match of the 2009 season on Saturday, Nov. 21, at the Academy's Clune Arena. After dropping the first two sets by scores of 25-18 and 25-16, the Falcons suffered a hard-fought 27-25 loss to the Utes in the final, deciding set.
The Falcons concluded the regular season by setting a new attendance record. Bolstering by a raucous contingent of cadets supporting the Commandant's Cadet Wing Sports Day, the Air Force played its final match in front of 2,475 fans.
Senior Michelle Harrington, playing in her final collegiate volleyball match, tied for the team lead with junior Nichole Stilwell for the team lead in kills with eight. Connecting on eight of 15 kills, while committing just a single error, Stilwell led the team with a .467 hitting percentage. Stilwell and classmate Julia Hansen paced the Falcons with a pair of assisted blocks, while Harrington and junior Jessica Hellmann each recorded a solo stop. Hellmann added 23 assists to her state line, while freshman Grace Konstanzer led the team with two service aces and nine digs.
Air Force jumped out to a 3-1 lead, thanks to a kill from Stilwell and a service ace from freshman Maiya Perich. The Utes tied the set at four, but a kill by Harrington helped the Falcons bump its advantage back up to two. Utah scored the next three points and took a 7-6 lead, but Harrington put down another kill to even the score. The two teams traded points, tying the set each of the next five scores, before Utah began to pull away from the Falcons and took a 16-13 lead. Harrington and Stilwell added kills, but Utah used several runs to take the set by a 25-18 margin.
A Utah error gave the Falcons the first point of the second set. Both squad traded points during a span that included five ties, before Utah edged ahead 8-5. Kills by Hansen and Konstanzer helped the Falcons tie the set at eight. The two teams again traded points, ultimately evening the score at 11. The Utes edged ahead 14-11, but Harrington put down a strike that changed Utah's rotation. Konstanzer collected a service ace the Falcons cut their deficit to one (14-13), but Utah scored the next nine points to widen its advantage. Harrington added another kill, but Utah took the set, 25-16.
Air Force found itself in a 4-1 hole to start the final stanza, but tallied kills from Stilwell and Konstanzer to even the score at seven. Utah took a two-point advantage at the 10-8 mark, but Konstanzer recorded her second ace of the day to tie the set at 10. From there, the two teams battled. Utah again edged ahead 14-12, but the Falcons responded with a kill from junior Caroline Kurtz to tie the set at 14. Air Force upped its advantage by two (17-15) with the help of a Konstanzer kill, but Utah came back to create a tie at 18. Following a deadlock at 19, Utah took the next two points, but the Falcons came back to even the score at 22 with a kill from Hellmann. The programs recorded three more tied marks (23, 24, 25), but back-to-back Air Force attacking errors gave the Utes the 27-25 victory.
Prior to the match, the Falcons honored Harrington and senior manager Nicole Hartig for their dedication and service to the program for the last four years. Air Force finished the 2009 season with an 8-21 record, including an impressive 8-5 record in non-conference action.