Nov. 29, 2013
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Backed by three players hitting .500 or better, the Air Force volleyball team closed out the 2013 campaign with a sweep of San Jose State on Friday, Nov. 29. With the 25-23, 25-18, 25-19 victory, the Falcons claimed their fifth Mountain West win of the season - matching the program's best conference win total since moving to Division I.
Sophomore Maggie Sherrill, who paced all players with 17 kills, was one of three Falcons to hit at least .500 in the match, as she posted connected on over half of her swings (17k-2e-30a). Sophomore Taylor Parker hit .571 on the night, recording eight kills on 14 swings (no errors), while junior Ayesha Hein added a .562 average behind nine kills on 16 attempts and no errors.
"We told (the team) before the match that there are only a couple teams that are playing their best right now ... and we are one of those teams," head coach Matt McShane said. "Ayesha, no errors, and Maggie hit .500, Taylor hit .575. That says a lot about what we've worked really hard on the last month."
Sophomore Akokwe Clement, who added 10 kills to the Falcons' total, paced the team in blocks with two (one solo, one assisted), while junior Hillary Keltner, who also recorded a solo stop and a service ace, accounted for 45 of the team's 52 assists. Sophomore Rachael Bradley Powers tallied a career-best 20 dig, while junior Emma Dridge added eight digs and a service ace.
"I really thought our blocking stepped up tonight too," McShane continued. "You can't stop (San Jose State's middles), but I thought that our blocking did a really good job of holding them back as the match progressed."
Hein, one of three Falcons playing in their final home contest, opened the match with a kill, while three straight kills from Sherrill pushed the Falcons to a 4-1 lead. Air Force extended its lead to five (7-2) following a block by Clement and Parker. Clement and Hein scored the Falcons' next four points (11-7), while Keltner put down a service ace that pushed the score to 14-9. San Jose State pulled within one (16-15) before eventually tying the set at 20. Senior Cami Richan put down her first score of the night to break the tie, while additional kills from Clement (two), Hein and Richan secured the 25-23 victory for Air Force.
The Spartans took the early lead in the second set, despite a combined five kills from Parker (three) and Sherrill (two). San Jose State reached the 10-point mark first (10-7), but six straight points from the Falcons shifted the set's momentum. Clement, Hein and Sherrill all contributed kills during that run, while three more scores from Sherrill pushed the Falcons' advantage out to 17-13. Clement, Richan and Hein used a late 3-0 run to go up 20-14, while a kill by Keltner sent the Falcons into intermission with a 25-18 set win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Sherrill struck first in the third, while a pair of kills from Parker, as well as additional kills Richan and Clement allowed the Falcons to double-up the Spartans 6-3. Hein and Sherrill each added a pair of kills to put the score at 12-7, but SJSU responded to pull within two (12-10). Air Force used a pair of attacking errors by the visiting team to rebuild its five-point margin (15-10), while back-to-back kills by Richan and an ace by Dridge extended the lead to 18-12. Following another kill by Parker, the Falcons earned consecutive points off of solo blocks by Clement (21-15) and Keltner (21-16). Kills by Sherrill and Parker pushed the Falcons to match-point, before Richan, playing the final point of her collegiate career, drove down the final point that secured the 25-19 victory for Air Force.
The Falcons, who ended the season with five matches over a 10-day span, finished the season with an 8-24 record, including a 5-15 mark in conference play. Air Force also accounted for a .500 record at home with a 6-6 slate and ended the year with a three-match win streak at the Cadet East Gym.